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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

On June 12, 2014 Mike Kenny had an opinion piece in the Glendale Star entitled, Ring the alarm – city once again wants you to foot bill. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/ . Generally I do not agree with Mr. Kenny’s stance on many issues but this time I do.

One sentence stood out, This current city administration banks on two things for survival, and they’re both yours: money and apathy.” The current city council simply cannot stop itself from spending money, your money. The latest example of their inability to reign themselves in is the expenditure, one-time and on-going, for an electronic voting system to be used at 24 council meetings a year. Why? Because they want to assure that you are confused as to who might be the deciding vote on any hotly contested issue…and to relieve Councilmember Chavira’s stress level.

What if there’s not enough in the budget to cover their willingness to spend your money? Not a problem. They will just create a new tax or raise an existent tax. Need money to cover the construction debt and annual management fee for the arena of approximately $27 million a year or the construction debt on Camelback Ranch of $18 million a year?No problem. Just make the temporary sales tax increase permanent. Need money to raise employee salaries? No problem. Just create a new annual licensing fee of $20 on your alarm system or make sure Glendale charges the highest fee in the state for driving school as you try to avoid those points on your record.

Why are 4 councilmembers led by the nose by senior management? Simple, it’s the easier way for them because you, the taxpayer in Glendale, never object. It’s called apathy. I can remember when a bunch of us tried to repeal the sales tax on food. Senior management put together a slick piece of propaganda asking citizens to decide what service(s) to cut if the sales tax on food was eliminated. It was a scare tactic and it worked beautifully. Glendale voters bought city rhetoric.

This time we heard the same scare arguments, i.e., half of Glendale’s staff would be terminated; services would continue to be cut. Those arguments only hold true if citizens allow this council to continue to spend beyond the city’s means. If citizens had demanded council adopt a phased plan of $5 million in cuts per year for 5 years there would be no need for the temporary sales tax to become permanent. Instead it was easier for them to accept Finance Director Duensing’s demands that the temporary sales tax be made permanent now…not in 2017 when it was due to sunset…but now.

This council, with the exception of Mayor Jerry Weiers, has adopted a budget that is not balanced as required by state statute. The budget starts with a $2.7 million deficit. But that’s OK according to senior staff. The money can come from $5 million in Contingency. If Phoenix demands a payment of over $3 million this October, that’s OK too…just take it out of Contingency. But wait…there’s not enough in Contingency to cover both obligations. Well, that’s OK too…just take it out of the Unappropriated Fund Balance (just a slick, new name for what is basically another Contingency account). They play games with your money and by now, you are so confused you can’t figure out what is going on.

Because of citizen apathy you, the Glendale taxpayer, will continue to be “nickled and dimed” to death until you have no more nickels and dimes. What many fail to recognize is that it takes so few of you to have an effect on this council’s financial decisions. Because so few citizens object to anything at council meetings when 20 or 30 citizens show up and speak to an issue council’s sensitivity radar kicks into high gear. Yep. That’s all it takes… 20 or 30 speakers to object. Are there 20 or 30 Glendale residents ready to scream, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?” or will citizen apathy allow this council to spend beyond your means?

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Pocket #4 contains Municipal Property Corporation (MPC) Bond debt of $29,496,137. It totals 33% of Glendale’s debt for this year.  According to bdu-4-pocket-khaki-tan-jacket-100-ripstop-cotton[1]the latest Glendale Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of 2013, the overall total of MPC debt is $1,020,889,000.

So far we’ve examined the contents of three pockets: Pocket #1, Enterprise Fund debt; Pocket #2, HURF and Transportation Bond debt; and Pocket #3, G.O. Bond debt.  These revenues come from specific sources; either customer utility bills, or State Shared revenue, or a dedicated transportation sales tax or secondary property tax.

The uses of monies from Pockets #1 and #2 are regulated and can only be used for utilities, or streets or transportation projects. Pocket #3 is regulated as to the amount of money it may acquire but the stipulations for revenue use are very broad and leave room for council decisions that can be political.

As was identified in the last blog, the state had, by statute, limited the amount of G.O. Bond debt any city could issue. Two categories of G.O. bond debt were created, restricting the amount of bond issuance to two categories: one of 6% of assessed secondary property value and another of 20% of assessed secondary property value.

The Municipal Property Corporation, however, was born as a means by which any city can circumvent the state imposed G.O. debt restrictions and allow the issuance of more municipal debt. Cities throughout the state have created MPCs…from Sierra Vista to Surprise. The earliest reference I could find to Glendale’s MPC is December of 1985.

There is no comprehensive definition in Arizona’s Revised Statutes for an MPC. Generally all are 501(C) (3) s, commonly known as non-profits. The bonds they issue are repaid by a city’s General Fund’s excise (sales tax) revenue. Technically, the bonds issued by a municipal corporation are not considered debts of the city, according to the state revenue department. They are not constrained by the same revenue and expenditure limits as that of G.O. bonds by which cities must abide.

Bonds issued by an MPC are not a debt owed by a city. If they default, a city is not legally bound to pay them with its general tax revenues. But realistically a city does have to make sure the debt is repaid. A city could not allow its MPC’s bonds to default, especially if MPC debt created assets like a water system or an airport. Although it’s not the debt of a city and is a debt of the MPC, any city would be obligated to pay it.

Since there are no restrictions on the amount of MPC debt a city may issue, it’s an area that can quickly lead to financial trouble as it has in Glendale’s case. Glendale’s long held, council adopted policy on excise (sales tax) funded debtstates that debt service will not exceed 10% of the 5-year average of the General Fund Groups’ ongoing revenue.Glendale is not in compliance with its own 10% policy and hasn’t been for several years. The money that goes into this pocket is not enough to cover what has to be paid out of this pocket. There isn’t a pocket large enough to hold what Glendale needs to pay out of it.

These bogs were offered to provide a better understanding of Glendale’s debt structure — where the money comes from and how it is used. In the next two blogs we’ll explore the “why” of some debt that was issued and lastly, are there solutions to Glendale’s debt. The answers may not be pretty.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Glendale is not the only municipality facing financial pressure. One has only to look at Phoenix’s $37 million shortfall. Many municipalities are adopting new strategies to cut their budgets. One area of a municipal budget that merits further scrutiny is the fire department. Let’s look at Glendale.

Public Safety consumes over two thirds (67%) of Glendale’s General Fund. Glendale’s proposed  FY 2014-15 budget shows a total police department budget of $77,604,581 and a total fire department budget of $36,744,314 (roughly half that of police). The police department has total personnel of 537 and the fire department has total personnel of 267 (roughly half that of police). Everything tracks. The police department has twice the personnel and twice the total budget as that of the fire department. Except in one, major area – Overtime (OT), Hourly & Specialized Pays. You would expect the fire department expense in this line item to track at about half that of the police department. Not so.  The police department line item figure for OT in the FY 2014-15 budget is $1,675,000 covering 537 personnel. Astoundingly, the fire department OT line item figure is slightly higher than that of police’s at $1,681,000 covering 267 people.  Clearly, the fire department’s OT, Hourly & Specialized Pays is out of control.

So, we know the police department’s budget and personnel are twice that of the fire department’s with the exception of Overtime Pay in which they spend virtually the same amount. How can that be? The fire department’s practice of Constant Staffing requiring 4 people on each fire truck is creating unsustainable demands for overtime pay.

There is one other piece of information that is important to consider. In FY 2013-14 the Glendale Fire Department answered 30,040 EMS (Emergency Medical Service) calls; 3,570 fire calls; 2,238 miscellaneous calls and 619 special operations calls. Glendale’s medical calls have become the “elephant in the room” for the fire department. Its medical calls are ten times that of fire calls. Obviously the fire department’s mission has evolved over time. Its first priority is now medical response and fire suppression response, while still critical, has become its secondary mission.

Municipalities across the nation are recognizing the tremendous financial burdens placed upon them in covering the costs of fire department overtime as well as the costs associated with sending a large fire truck to a medical emergency. And they are beginning to act.

In Spokane, Washington as of January 2, 2013 the city decided that three fire stations and one ladder station would start using smaller vehicles on medical calls as opposed to the larger ladder trucks, which age quickly and operating and maintaining them was becoming more and more expensive. They decided it was important to spend their limited resources wisely taking into account that 78% of those three stations’ calls were medical.

Here’s another example: The Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue (TVF&R) near Portland, Ore., was one of the early adopters of a fire/ALS deployment model using smaller vehicles. The department initiated its “Car Program” in 2010 as the way to respond to the increasing demand for EMS in a more efficient and effective manner. With 80% EMS calls, the department searched for a way to effectively respond to lower-priority requests for service and still maintain readiness for major emergency incidents. Instead of deploying a four-person staffed $400,000 full-size apparatus, the department purchased a $31,000 Toyota FJ Cruiser and staffed it with a single fire paramedic to handle calls such as minor traffic accidents, community service requests and lower-priority medical emergencies.

Or… In August 2012, the city of Grand Rapids, Mich., received a report that highlighted the recent trend of fire department rightsizing. The ICMA (International City Managers Association) made 22 recommendations to Grand Rapids municipal leaders that included a variety of changes to the fire department’s EMS response. One of the first recommendations was to eliminate five full-size fire department apparatus and replace them with smaller, more cost effective RRVs. The result was an estimated savings of $2.1 million.

And this… The Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) began providing rescue services in the late 1950s with the use of panel vans that carried firefighters to the scene of motor vehicle accidents and other requests for non-fire suppression services. This model of prehospital care delivery was retained as the LACoFD became one of the nation’s first fire ALS providers in the early 1970s. Today, the department still delivers ALS care by way of quick-response squad trucks staffed with firefighter paramedic personnel. The primary benefit of this ALS model is that it ensures a better utilization of resources while maintaining a cost-effective response. When an LACoFD squad arrives, the paramedic can determine if ALS care is required and then either accompany a contracted ambulance transport provider or return to service for another response.

San Jose, California as well as other cities across the nation are considering or have already reduced the number of firefighters on each response truck. It has proven to provide fire departments with more flexibility and better coverage. Four people on each engine to answer a medical call, was impracticable. Neighboring agencies, like Santa Clara County Fire, already assigns just three people per engine. The reasoning was that since 94% of all calls are medical, the Santa Clara County Fire Department was over deploying.

The practice of responding to medical calls with full-size apparatus is proving to be an expensive and inappropriate use of equipment. One deployment concept that appears to be gaining as an option for the fire service to meet both a decrease in budget and an increase in the demand for organizational efficiency is the transition from full-size fire apparatus to smaller rapid-response vehicles (RRVs). Some departments have used this concept for years to deploy ALS personnel to the scene of a medical emergency and to work in conjunction with other apparatus on fire suppression incidents. Fire departments must embrace new approaches to the deployment of their EMS resources by using peak demand staffing and changes to apparatus.

The “right resource, right place and right time” model has become the key concept for the deployment of fire EMS first response resources. Adopting a clinical, financial and operational strategy; and changing and rightsizing EMS resources appears to be the answer to many of the challenges faced by fire departments today. The modern fire service is now expected to be innovative and able to change its business practices by recognizing  evolutions in the response to the majority of service requests, especially as a majority of calls are now medically related.

As we move toward a change in the nation’s healthcare delivery system based on accountability and clinical outcome, the department that can adapt to new norms will be the most successful.

Models with reduction of personnel on response units and redeployment of those personnel to reduce overtime and the use of small, medical response units staffed with fire paramedics are being used successfully throughout the country.

It’s time to right size the Glendale fire department. Will the Glendale City Council have the strength of will to request that changes be made? Will the Glendale fire department and more importantly, the Glendale fire union, innovate and adapt to the reality of shrinking resources and the increased demand for more effective, reasonably priced medical response? Or will they use the buzz words of “diminished service and response time” to fight it?

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

From the second I posted my last blog on the topic of the most recent Glendale Monthly Arena Management Report I have been inundated with Facebook private messages, emails and Twitter DMs asking so many questions I’ve decided to answer many of them here and now.

I’ve been asked how the Ice AZ deal is different than the Jamison deal I supported. Why was that more beneficial and why did I support it? I received a flurry of offended IceArizona supporters demanding I announce why Jamison’s deal failed, why I “pick,” “target,” “harass” the new owners. I am not at liberty to discuss why the Jamison deal did not succeed due to confidentiality issues. I can, however, compare the two deals – Jamison’s and IceArizona’s. My only agenda throughout the entire process was to get what would be, in my opinion, the best deal possible for Glendale within the context of the financial environment as it existed at that time. Each deal had its strengths and weaknesses vis a vis Glendale.

 Then there’s the “interested-in-Glendale” crowd who want to know why I continually berate the new Council and is it because I’m running again in the future? Again, I categorically state that I will not run for any office, now or in the future. I have seen some councilmembers who remained well into their 80’s. One could see the diminishment in their faculties and abilities. It is a disservice to the constituents they represent. Instead I appreciate the gift I have been given to opine on Glendale issues and events using the benefit of my 16 years of service to the city. I am enjoying my retirement immensely and writing about Glendale is just plain fun.

Some asked, did I think individual councilmembers or the mayor personally benefit from deals? Then there are the few accusations of “I bet you benefitted just like these lousy politicians” implying that somehow I would financially benefit from a successful Jamison deal. Jamison never, ever made any offer of compensation of any sort and if he had it would have resulted in personal insult at the thought and would have insured my “no” vote on his bid.

Now…for the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say…Let’s begin with the unsuccessful Jamison bid.  In page citations references with regard to the Jamison bid are the City Council Voting Meeting Presentation of November 27, 2012 or the Substantial Final Draft of the Arena Management Agreement dated October, 2012.

  • It was a long-term deal of 20 years with a 5 year option to renew with no opt out clause by either party (Council meeting of November, 2012).
  • Base rent was in years 1 to 5, $500,000; years 6 to 12, $650,000; and years 13 to 22, $800,000; (Final Substantial Draft of Arena Management Agreement, page 24, Section 6. Leasehold Interest. 6.6. Base Rent).
  • Stipulation if full 40+ games were not played it would be arena manager’s responsibility to book other events to compensate for lost games (Arena Management Agreement, page 29, Section 8. Arena Management. 8.1.0).
  • Minimum of 40 games per year with additional 30 events per year. Management fee reduced by $25,000 for each non-hockey event below 30 minimum. Reduction of $60,000 per game below 40 minimum (Council meeting of November, 2012).
  • Parking Rights belonged to team owner/manager (page 30, Section 8.2).
  • Stipulation of 15% of the gross from naming rights would go to the city (page 35, Section 8.5).
  • City surcharge on qualified tickets was years 1 to 5, $2.75; and years 6 to 22, $3.00 (page 51, Section 9. Charges and Fees. 9.1. City Surcharge).
  • Arena Management Fee: In year 1, $11M; year 2, $14M; years 3 to 4, $15M; year 5, $16M; years 6 to 10, $18M; and year 11, $17M; years 12 to 15, $16m; year 16, $14M; and years 17 to 20, $13M (Council meeting of November, 2012).
  • Stipulation of 5 year option to purchase the arena (page 89, Section 23. Arena Purchase Option).
  • City offered a bonus incentive of $500,000 for every additional 20 events over 30 minimum required (Council meeting of November, 2012).

Was it a perfect deal? Of course not but I supported it for several reasons. Mr. Jamison continually demonstrated his willingness to compromise during the negotiations with the city. Every nuance of the Jamison deal was highly publicized.  There was no backroom negotiating amongst councilmembers.

A restructured arena management fee was crafted and the first year fee dropped from $17M to $11M. Penalties and bonuses were added — something not seen in any previous deals. The Five Year Scenario presented at the November, 2012 council meeting showed an ending City Fund Balance in 2017 of $63.2M if the team stayed and an ending Fund Balance in 2017 of $63.4M if the team left. The difference was negligible and seemed reasonable as both scenarios required General Fund expense reductions.

It was a deal that offered the city arena stability over 20 years and most importantly, there was an option to buy the arena in the first five years making the balance of the deal a moot point while relieving the city of further financial obligations. The “buy” option in the first five years would have removed the financial debt burden the city was facing at that time. Jamison provided a long term contractual commitment insuring an anchor tenant in the arena for 20 years. His deal was based upon having raised the necessary team purchase equity – no loans were involved.

Why didn’t it happen? Many of the reasons are not public and I am not at liberty to speak of them but I do know that at the eleventh hour the NHL demanded greater team purchase equity. Jamison was raising cash to purchase the team rather than relying upon loans. It was simply impossible to raise in two months the additional equity that the NHL suddenly required before the city’s imposed deadline of January 31, 2013. The originally requested equity amount had been raised but the new, last minute NHL demand was a deal killer. Why the sudden and unexpected requirement of more purchase equity? One would have to ask the NHL officers and they are not talking.

Now, let’s look at the IceArizona deal. Since it was the successful bid and of recent vintage, many of the deal points are already familiar to you. The IceArizona citations used are from the Professional Management Services and Arena Lease Agreement of June 28, 2013. The council approved the agreement on August 5, 2013.

  • The agreement is subject to an early termination right after 5 years (page 3, Arena Lease Agreement, Section 1. Statement of Intent. 1.1.1.)
  • Revenues to be received by the city include surcharge of $3 on qualified hockey tickets; a $5 surcharge on non-hockey qualified tickets; and a supplemental surcharge of $1.50 on every qualified ticket; parking revenues of $10 per vehicle for hockey events and $11.33 per vehicle for non-hockey events less $20,000.00 per event to the team owner; 20% of the sale of naming rights (page 4. Section 1. Statement of Intent. 1.1.5. a through j).
  • Arena Management Withdrawal grants the right of agreement default if there is an arena manager dissolution, bankruptcy or insolvency (page 7, Definitions. 1.2. a through e).
  • Definition of qualified ticket with a distribution limit of 1,000 per event (page 16. Section 1.)
  • Annual rent is in years 1 to 5, $500,000; years 6 to 12, $650,000; years 13 to 15, $800,000 (page 25. Section 6. Leasehold Interest. 6.6.1 to 6.6.3)
  • Penalty of $150,000 per hockey game less than the 40 games per year. There is no penalty for non-hockey events or any minimum of non-hockey events required (page 31. Section 8. Arena Management. 8.3. Event Requirements. 8.3.1. b and c).
  • Qualified hockey ticket surcharge based on attendance of less than 15,000 is $3 per ticket; 15,000 to 15,999 is $3.25 per ticket; 16,000 to 17,000 is $3.50 per ticket; more than 17,000 is $3.75. All non hockey events will be $3 per ticket regardless of attendance figures (page 49. Section 9. Charges and Fees. 9.1.2 a and b).
  • Supplemental ticket surcharge of $1.50 per qualified ticket imposed (page 49. Section 9. Charges and Fees. 9.1.3).
  • City receives 20% of arena naming rights (page 35. Section 8. Arena Management. 8.6.4.b.ii).

Is this a perfect deal? Of course not but it is one that is far more difficult to support. I cannot speak as to whether there was a spirit of compromise as I was not directly involved with the prospective team purchasers. There appeared to be “back room” negotiating amongst councilmembers in the search for the elusive 4th vote.  

Obviously there was no compromise on the annual management fee of $15M. There couldn’t be compromise because the team purchase relied heavily on loans from the Fortress Group and the NHL rather than on raising a large amount of purchase equity. I find it ironic that the NHL killed the Jamison deal by requesting even greater purchase equity than he has already acquired and now it is stuck with granting an $80M loan to the new owners. The $15M that the city pays for arena management is passed through by the team owners as interest payments on their loans. They quite simply must have that $15M for interest payments.

On the face of it the IceArizona deal speaks to a long-term commitment but that is not necessarily the case. There is an opt out clause after 5 years and that is extremely disturbing. It has been highly publicized that the opt-out trigger is losses aggregately of $50 million. Anyone who is under the assumption that the team owners will not suffer loss is dreaming. Business 101 classes teach that any new business venture can routinely expect losses in the first 2 to 3 years. The question becomes how much will the owners lose and how quickly will it reach the target of $50 million? Even though the city has and will exercise its right to audit at the end of every fiscal year that information will not be publicly available. P&L statements are usually proprietary. The public will not know until if and when the team owners choose to exercise their opt-out provision.

 The city could go through another exercise of crafting an agreement with another new owner but more likely, the team would be sold or relocated. There is also an Arena Manager Withdrawal clause that provides a default opportunity for sale or relocation.

Keep in mind in BOTH deals there are very few new revenue streams to the city. The city had been, in years previous, collecting all sales tax generated within and outside the arena. That is not new money. It also had been collecting a ticket surcharge on all events. That is not new money. These revenues were already going into the city’s General Fund and specifically used to pay the arena construction debt. In the IceArizona deal the revenues flow to the General Fund as well but there is no specific dedication of those revenues to fulfill the city’s arena debt obligations and may be used for any purpose.

In the Jamison deal the only new money was 15% of the revenue from naming rights. In the IceArizona deal the only new money is 20% of naming rights, the supplemental ticket surcharge and parking revenue. None of these revenues are predicted by the city’s Executive Finance Director as being substantial enough to recompense the annual $15M management fee.

In my judgment the better deal was the Jamison deal. He offered a long-term commitment to stay in Glendale with no opt out clause and an opportunity to buy the arena in the first five years. It would have relieved the city of the financial obligations of the arena. Not so with the IceArizona contract. While their advertising states, “Here to stay” there is always that pesky 5 year opt out clause lurking.

Because of the Jamison group’s purchase equity position there was flexibility in pegging the annual management fee to accommodate the city’s needs at the time. Make no mistake. Each deal placed a tremendous annual financial burden upon the city. Coupled with the Jamison deal staff recommended city expense reductions and instituted other strategies such as restructuring city debt that would have offset that burden.  With the IceArizona deal there is too much reliance upon promised revenues that may or may not be realized.  With so little owner equity, their reliance upon large loans and the 5 year opt out clause I wouldn’t take a bet about their future. Would you?

 I am sure that in expressing my POV on the two deals I will raise a great deal of protestation along with, “your facts are flawed” or “you have no faith” or “once again you have delivered an IceArizona hate piece.” There is no doubt that the subject is divisive and highly polarizing. Please remember that my conclusions are based upon publicly available information. It is my best attempt to share my reasoning regarding the many questions received. My initial vote to accept the Jamison deal while still on council resulted in leaving the door open for consideration of other bids resulting in IceArizona’s success. I have never been anti-Coyotes. I have always been pro-Glendale. My prism has always been the best interests of Glendale. It is fair to question whether accepting the IceArizona deal the best choice for Glendale. You decide.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

RESULTS

My previous blogs reviewed the cast of characters, the items under investigation, the city hall atmosphere, and the how, why and what was done. Now its time to look at the results that the external audit produced. The following recommendations are relatively easy to implement and some have already occurred. Frankly, that’s the easy part. These recommendations will enforce and safeguard sound, fiscal policy positions for the city.

  • The City of Glendale should implement an anti-fraud program that would include the following:
  • Conduct a fraud risk assessment to identify areas that are vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse and/or employee misconduct;
  • The City should implement a code of conduct and provide training for that code;
  • Create an ethics hotline where callers could be allowed to provide information anonymously. The calls should be investigated (by whom? At the very least, a third party, neutral, should be used. Perhaps it’s time to create an Employee Ombudsman) thoroughly and immediately with reports provided at least quarterly to the City;
  • Implementation of the ethics/antifraud program should be communicated to all levels of employees.
  • Retention policy for emails/server information should be reconsidered. Sixty days for email backup is not adequate for litigation and investigative purposes. The minimum should be one year.
  • Decisions on significant programs, such as the ERP, should be supported by sound financial analysis and supporting documentation discussing both the short-term impact, and potential long-term impact of the program. It should also document City Management’s consideration and reasoning for recommending or implementing such a program.
  • Have Risk Management and Workers’ Compensation trust fund boards meet more frequently than once a year. (Already implemented before I left as Chairperson)
  • City should evaluate its current policies and guidance as to required authorization for transfers and revise if necessary. These policies should be assessed by City attorneys for consistence with applicable statutes, regulations and ordinances. (The City Attorney Office’s oversight has been nothing short of abysmal)
  • Revise charter/ordinances to require the notification and/or involvement of the City Attorney over all significant transactions.
  • To the extent that budget appropriations transfers are a practical necessity during the year, update or revise the policies to clearly set out what is and is not permitted, as well as what transfers and when those transfers must go for City Council approval.
  • To the extent that the City desires to pay certain administrative costs and salaries related to the appropriate trust fund purposes [as with other cities] -ordinance or amendment to governing documents should be considered and approved by City Council to authorize these expenditures. (Had been proposed to Council but not yet implemented)
  • Premium levels charged to City departments are subject to the recommendations and the discretion of the City Management. Premiums should be based on sound long-term evaluations rather than by short-term cash needs.
  • Significant changes in trust fund premiums (e.g. >20%) paid by City departments should be authorized to the City Council in advance.
  • City Auditor should report directly to the City Council rather than the City Manager. This recommendation has already been made implemented.
  • The City’s external auditor should be engaged to perform at least an annual audit of internal controls.

REPERCUSSIONS

This is not an easy topic nor are there any easy fixes. Today’s City Hall environment is positively toxic. Hopefully the new City Manager will make it her priority to reverse this situation. Obviously politics is not confined to politicians. It’s pervasive throughout this city organization and can be found in every other city. It’s not an aberration confined only to Glendale. When Beasley came on board as City Manager, if nothing else, his control of the organization was absolute and during his tenure political intrigue simmered under the surface but never erupted into outright warfare.

When he left all hell broke loose. Two staffers, Assistant City Manager Horatio Skeete and City Attorney Craig Tindall, were within shouting distance of grabbing ultimate power, that of Interim City Manager. Both probably felt that an outstanding performance could land them the job permanently. Each had their supporters and detractors but vied for the job in dramatically different ways. Craig Tindall’s supporters, were rumored to include among others, Jim Colson, Economic Development Director; Julie Frisoni, Communications and Marketing Director; Fire Chief Mark Burdick and City Auditor Candace Macleod. It is assumed that they knew or at the very least had suspicions of or had heard rumors about the ramifications of the ERP before its eventual disclosure. If they knew and said nothing until disclosure became useful then they are complicit in the cover up. They finally released information about the Trust Fund transfers and the Employee Benefit Program in an effort to smear Skeete. There was no mention of the City Attorney Office’s failure to provide oversight over the ERP. We’ve all heard the phrase that ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

This information was released despite the fact that these decisions were Beasley’s, not Skeete’s. After all, Pam Kavanaugh as Assistant City Manager began the implementation and then retired. When Skeete assumed that role, he was tasked with continuing the implementation. I once asked Skeete why he didn’t play the same game and he told me that was not how he wanted to get the job. There were no monkeys on Skeete’s desk. Council chose Skeete as Interim City Manager and rejected the tactics employed by the Tindall faction.

If council had been informed of the facts when the ERP was first implemented different direction would have been given to the City Manager. To say we were not informed by city management is an understatement. Many of the allegations came to light after Beasley had retired. If the Workmens Compensation and Risk Management Trust Fund Boards had been told the truth reforms could have been instituted.

Now there is a new regime in city management with a new City Manager and soon, presumably a new City Attorney. Heads are rolling with Bolton, Goke, Schurhammer and Skeete placed on administrative leave. It is a strong signal that poor decision making based on a lack of integrity will not be tolerated. The first appointments by City Manager Brenda Fischer are Frisoni as Acting Assistant City Manager and Macleod as Interim Finance Director both of whom appeared to have been actively embroiled in the Interim City Manager warfare. What about Jamsheed Mehta, Stuart Kent, Jon Froke and Erik Strunk who kept their noses clean, hunkered down and did their jobs? What kind of signal has been sent through the organization? House cleaning of a selected few while others suffer no retribution for their actions or lack of disclosure until it became useful does not bode well.

AND THERE’S MORE

The call for an external audit was Norma Alvarez’ baby aided and abetted by a newspaper, the Glendale Star, that appears to have become the mouthpiece for her agenda. She obviously hoped for two outcomes from the audit: finding a pot of gold that somehow had been overlooked; and placing blame directly on former councilmembers. Neither outcome was achieved but it has made her vindictiveness apparent for all to see. She had publicly stated that after the external audit became public she would resign. To date that has not happened but it should. Her contributions to Glendale governance are non-existent. Now she says she will not run again in 2014 but reneging on her promise to resign now signals that she may change her mind as it gets closer to the time to declare reelection intent.

AND THERE’S MORE STILL…MUCH, MUCH MORE

Then there is the question of former mayor Scruggs. Was she involved? That is your decision to make. She has many supporters to this day who will reject the notion of any involvement. I am not a supporter having worked with her for 16 years. Many inside and outside of City Hall were quite aware of her ambitions and her modus operandi. We were never personal friends and for many years were often diametrically opposed on policy issues. Various staffers would often remark privately that there was nothing that went on in Glendale that she did not know about and either approved or disapproved.  In retrospect it appears that this assertion by those staffers seems to be quite accurate.

Below you will see 2 emails that require some explanation.  A Glendale resident, a very intelligent gentleman, now deceased, who had been CEO of several well known national corporations, became concerned about the bonds being issued by Glendale for construction of the arena and surrounding infrastructure. He made a series of Freedom of Information queries. During the course of his inquiries he often updated his progress via email. These are but two of many. The first email forwarded to me relates to the former mayor’s treatment of this gentleman after he spoke publicly about his concerns. The second email on which I was copied, confirms her extensive knowledge of arena finances and her need to know everything. The names of individuals and the topic raised at the time are not pertinent to the illustrations being used to offer some insight into her behavior.

First email********************

From: XXXXX

To: XXXXXX

Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 6:05 PM

Subject: Re: FOI items for Friday

I included the entire exchange because this XXXX gentleman (XXXXX) is asking Glendale some critical questions about the Arena deal. They aren’t answering. He went to Council, waited until the end and stepped up with his questions. Elaine took him aside and berated him for saying these things on Glendale TV. She “doesn’t want the sort of thing out there for the citizens who don’t understand to see”. Scroll down to the last message he sent me. Elaine listened in on a conference call this man had with the financial people of Glendale. She is hiding something…he is close to it….

Second email******************

From: XXXXXX

To: XXXXXXXXX

Cc: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 6:37 AM

Subject: Re: FOI items for Friday

Hi! I called Mr. Schuey (sp.?) at nine am on Friday, as planned, for an hour. I said that I expected to talk primarily to Steve Szymanski because he is closest to the data I desire. He said Steve’s boss would be taking his place instead. I asked who was on the line with him. He said that Steve’s boss, Art Lynch, Mr. Perkins (sp.) and Mayor Scruggs were also there!!!! I wasn’t surprised. I couldn’t tell who was doing the talking, but at least the Mayor kept silent (an amazing act of constraint). With such a large cast of characters, I didn’t expect much. They did clarify some things. 

For example, they said that 4 bond issues were for infrastructure only ($30Million), so not with the Taxable, Tax exempt and a small issue associated with the Arena. All together, the total bond amount is $180Million (Arena plus infrastructure). “They” said that I should only be concerned with the Arena bonds, even though in the budgets all six were together. They said that two of the smaller bonds had been dedicated to other purposes via ordinances passed some time ago. In summary they seemed to be defensive on this small issue. I said that I would concentrate on the two Arena bonds and one small one ($150Million), which is my main interest.

 

They went on about their AAA rating and that Mr. Perkins was their expert, etc, etc. and that they had sculptured the Bond allocation to make it easier to keep the early years payments lower so that their payments would not be too tough at first.

 

This was said because I had previously told Art that the distribution used caused a lot of excess Interest. They don’t like criticism.

So, not much accomplished.

Regards, XXXXXXX

These emails are illustrative of the belief by some people that the former mayor was involved in the slightest minutia of Glendale operations and especially when the issue was a “hot topic.”  What did she know about the Early Retirement Program (ERP) and when did she know it? According the findings of the external audit report the ERP was initiated in March of 2009. At the end of the same month (March, 2009) at the first FY 2010 council budget workshop it is now evident that she had knowledge, not readily available or shared with the councilmembers, of the program’s costs as can be seen from the questions and statements she made relative to the issue. Her actions raise more questions that remain unanswered. Many readers of this blog have knowledge of or examples that attest to her intense and perhaps sometimes, inappropriate, involvement in city affairs. If anyone cares to share please send an email to clarkjv@aol.com. Your information will be handled discreetly.

There you have it – the players, the City Hall climate, the actions taken and the repercussions. It’s not a pretty picture. If you are as angry and disgusted as I, you have every right to feel that way. It’s a bitter chapter in the history of Glendale that occurred on the watch of former City Manager Ed Beasley (retired 2012)/Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete (on administrative leave, 2014) and former Mayor Elaine Scruggs (retired 2013). The mushrooms were former Vice Mayor Steve Frate (retired 2013) and Councilmembers Clark (me, retired 2013), Martinez, Lieberman, Knaack and Goulette (former Ocotillo CM prior to 2010)/ Alvarez (current Ocotillo CM from 2010 to present).

The reforms and controls that will be adopted will help to restore confidence in a financial system run amok. Could it happen again, if not in Glendale, somewhere else? Yes because we are all fallible and can make disastrous decisions. You cannot legislate good character, morality or integrity.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

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In my previous blog I outlined the cast of characters, what actions were to be investigated and the city hall atmosphere when these actions were taken. In this article we’ll look at what was done and how it was done. Before that, there is the why. The “why” is based upon assumption. Some of the actions were taken as early as 2008. The city was on the precipice of a great National Recession.  City revenues were declining. The city was facing a budget shortfall of over $14M. Rather than provide direction to city council to begin to make the necessary cuts, including employee terminations, management staff tried to avoid the cuts with other strategies. They were protecting their turf and the jobs of many employees. They thought they were not only staving off inevitable employee cuts but that their strategy would buy the necessary time needed to weather the recession. Their options were limited and they chose actions that produced disastrous consequences when discovered five years later, in 2013.

What did they do? When did they do it? How did they do it? They set their sights on an Early Retirement Program (ERP). They touted that it would result in cost savings in excess of $5M.

What they failed to take into account was how much this program would cost to implement – a price tag of $6.1M. The program was far more popular than they anticipated and 55 employees, many of them middle to upper management representing upper pay ranges and serious money, took advantage of it.  Costs started to balloon. $1.34M in retirement incentive costs; $1.36 in vacation and sick day payouts; but worst of all, the Arizona State Retirement System slapped on a penalty of $2.75M. How could they have not seen it coming? Scottsdale tried the same ERP in 2009 and incurred millions of dollars in penalties. The State Retirement Laws had changed in 2004. Why was no one in then City Attorney Craig Tindall’s office aware of the changes in the law? Why did no one in the city attorney’s office review current law on the use of ERPs when Alma Carmicle first proposed the idea in the fall of 2008? Ignorance is not a legitimate answer, especially at the time of ERP’s publicly advertised implementation in 2009. The city attorney’s office should have been all over it.

Unfortunately, the report does not answer those questions. It merely paints a picture of what was done. Even when staff realized that there were penalties associated with using ERP, the assumptions staff provided to and used with the State Retirement System representatives were woefully under reported. Now staff, in desperation, had to find the money to cover the ERP expenses and the state assessed penalties.

They turned to the Workmens Compensation Trust Fund (WCTF) and the Risk Management Trust Fund (RMTF) as sources to fund the ERP. Then to compound their actions they used a “premium holiday” concept which involved withholding the city’s portion of payment to the Employee Benefits Trust Fund (EBTF) eradicating its stability as well.  They withheld $83 thousand per month for a total of $1M/year in both 2008-09 and 2011-12 from the EBTF. The trust funds, especially the WCTF, began to experience shortages. Over a period of two years (2010-2012) $2.6M was transferred from RMTF to the WCTF. All the while they publicly assured city council and the general public that cost savings from the Employee Retirement Program was being generated.

That brings us to Art Lynch’s retirement as Assistant City Manager in October of 2009 and the use of his consulting firm, SRJ Consulting. Mr. Lynch was part of Mr. Beasley’s “inner circle” of trusted advisers. One could assume that Mr. Beasley wanted to make sure his friend was financially comfortable before he, Beasley, retired. So began a series of highly questionable actions performed by Mr. Beasley. Employees, in order to be eligible for the ERP, had to meet a deadline of March, 2009. Mr. Lynch did not retire until October, 2009. By placing Mr. Lynch in the ERP it added another $121,000 to the State penalty. Mr. Beasley approved Mr. Lynch’s participation in the ERP and in fact, granted Mr. Lynch an extension to accomplish that objective. Mr. Beasley also approved an additional $25,000 in deferred compensation to Mr. Lynch. The day after Mr. Lynch’s retirement, he returned to duty as SRJ Consulting, with a contract that never went out to public bid. As a consultant, over several years, SRJ Consulting received nearly a million dollars. These maneuvers cost the city an additional half million dollars. This information is available on pages 23-24 of the external audit report.

It was generally assumed that Ms. Alma Carmicle was also a member of Mr. Beasley’s “inner circle” and a trusted adviser to him. Some people might view Ms. Carmicle’s job arrangement as an example of “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the summer of 2010 Ms. Carmicle moved permanently to Mississippi and Mr. Beasley approved her job retention via telecommuting. This accommodation lasted until her retirement in February of 2012. The rationale for allowing her to stay on as a full time employee through the use of telecommunication was that Mr. Beasley felt that she was needed to negotiate the public safety Memoranda of Understanding (generally recognized as union contracts). Mr. Beasley certainly led me to believe that he was heading up the MOU negotiations. From October of 2011 until her retirement in February of 2012 Ms. Carmicle participated in 26 MOU meetings/telephone calls lasting a total of 13 hours and 55 minutes. During those four months Ms. Carmicle managed to give the City of Glendale almost 14 hours of her time, talent and expertise. Yet she was paid as a full time employee. All of her other duties as Human Resource Director had been absorbed by Mr. Brown, the Assistant Director. During this time Ms. Carmicle received her full salary and car and phone allowances estimated to be about $140,000. This information is available on page 25 of the external audit report. Was it blatant cronyism in the cases of Lynch and Carmicle? You decide.

These were the major issues of the external audit: city nonpayment to the Employees Benefit Trust Fund as “premium holidays” so that those funds could be used else where as needed; transfers from and between the Risk Management Trust Fund and the Workmens Compensation Trust Fund to cover the costs incurred in the Employee Retirement Program; and the unusual job arrangements for Mr. Lynch and Ms. Carmicle.

Ms. Goke and Mr. Bolton are the latest to fall. They have been placed on leave by the new City Manager Brenda Fischer and Candace Macleod, the City Auditor, has been appointed as Interim Executive Finance Director. The bodies are starting to pile up…Skeete, Schurhammer, Goke and Bolton. I am sad on one hand because these are people I admired and respected professionally. I knew and liked some of them personally. I sought their advice and counsel on city matters for years. Did they hide other information from me when I went to them on city issues? They destroyed any semblance of trust and abdicated their fiduciary responsibilities to the city. I am outraged that they could sit before us at budget workshops and hide the truth. Yet they are just the fall guys. They did not make the final decision to implement the ERP program – City Manager Beasley did, presumably after consulting with his “inner circle” of trusted advisers. The four on leave (and others) were directed to make the program work and later told what they could and could not say about the results of the program. They could have but chose not to, blow the whistle. In that atmosphere at that time they may have felt they had no choice. Does that make them less responsible and accountable for their participation? No, of course not. Yet they are not the lead actors in this sordid drama. Some of those who refused to be interviewed were the decision makers and should be held accountable. Will there be criminal or civil action against the major players? I am not an attorney and could not begin to guess. Remember, I am but a lowly mushroom.

Next up…results, repercussions and much more.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

NEXT UP AS BIG SPENDERS ARE #2 ALVAREZ AND #3 HUGH

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

Hugh photo

Ian Hugh

Councilmember Alvarez is number 2 on the list having spent $26,151.34 and Councilmember Hugh comes in at third at $19,771.12. Both share Chavira’s philosophy of giving away your taxpayer dollars.

 

money 2Here is the list of Alvarez’ donations made in the past 6 months totaling  $16,791.40 (60% of her total 6 month expenditures):

 

  • Glendale Arizona Historical Society……………$3,000.00
  • Community Action Program Holiday Event….$3,000.00
  • Football uniforms for Independence HS…….…$3,391.40
  • Hope for Hunger…………………………………$    500.00
  • Scholarships………………………………………..$   900.00

 

  • Jivemind performance at a Glen. ES*.……………$3,000.00
  • Arizona Melon Festival, LLC*…………………….$3,000.00

*Last two items are for-profit corporations.

Like Chavira, Alvarez donated to the Arizona Melon Festival, LLC money 9(AMF). AMF received a total of $11,000 from 2 councilmembers, Chavira and Alvarez.  Jeff Rose, SW Director of Jivemind, is also a managing member of AMF. Alvarez also donated to Jivemind despite the fact that the Jivemind lease of city property requires the company to offer at least 4 free public events yearly. Ummmm… Also of note Jivemind is renting 6,559 square feet of city property (formerly the Bead Museum) for approximately $2.69/SF. In checking the going rate for lease of downtown Glendale commercial property the lowest cost per square foot that is currently listed is $6.00/SF. Ummmm…

money 8Here is the list of Hugh’s donations made in the past 6 months totaling $9,984.98 (50% of his total 6 month expenditures):

 

  • Glendale Arizona Historical Society……………..$4,669.98
  • Jerseys for youth project………………….……….$1,040.00
  • Hope for Hunger…………………………………..$3,000.00
  • Packages from Home…………………….….….…$1,000.00
  • The Salvation Army………………………..…….$   275.00

Other expenditures of note in Hugh’s budget are 1. Yep, you guessed it. Hugh’s cell phone, just like Chavira’s, is covered at $75 a month and 2. On May 13, 2013 Hugh hosted an event at Shane’s Ribmoney 1 Shack for $1,750.45. That’s a lot of ribs! Was it for his constituents? No further information is provided to clarify this noteworthy expense. It’s ironic that a councilmember whose focus and roots are in downtown Glendale chose a restaurant away from downtown and in Westgate.

All of the non-profits listed above are worthy and deservedly so. They offer much needed services in our community. Some of these groups also receive dollars from Glendale’s From the Heart Program or CBDG funding. From the Heart is a program in which residents have the option to pay an additional dollar on their water/sewer/sanitation bill every month. That dollar goes to From the Heart which often also receives grant match funding from other organizations. The funds are distributed to non-profits on an annual basis. In addition, as Alvarez well knows as a former director of Glendale’s Community Action Program, that the city is a pass-through federal funds (called Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] funds). CDBG funds are distributed annually to non-profits that assist the low to moderate income population in Glendale. These are successful, long-term city mechanisms to distribute funding to the economically disadvantaged and disabled within our community.

Is it appropriate for councilmembers to divert funding from their “communications” and “infrastructure” budgets to non-profits? They are taxpayer dollars and the only judge of these monetary awards is the councilmember. There are dangers in cronyism and abuse. What if there are constituents that are philosophically opposed? These councilmember actions make it perfectly clear that they are not focused on district resident outreach and providing their constituents timely information or in making awards that can physically improve the blight in some of their district neighborhoods.

Yet when these budgets were initially created that was the distinct purpose and intent for the use of these funds in councilmember budgets. The need to fund communication to constituents was an identified primary need as was the ability to “fix” minor neighborhood infrastructure issues that arose and were not budgeted for in the city budget. None of the former councilmembers ever voiced the intent to give the money away to their favorite charities. Yet Alvarez made monetary awards totaling 60% of her entire 6 month expenditures (January 1 to June 30, 2013) and Hugh made awards totaling 50%. It’s time to take a look at councilmember budgets and examine what are to be considered as appropriate expenditures.

money 5These very three councilmembers, Chavira ($27,000), Alvarez ($26,000) and Hugh ($19,000) are big spenders who have no problem in giving your taxpayer dollars to their favorite organizations. Their inability to reign in their individual council budgets demonstrates a philosophy loathe to reign in the city’s budget and to reduce spending. The city must reduce its spending by $23 million by FY 2017 when the increased sales tax sunsets. Yet these councilmembers continue to rack up new expenses that were unbudgeted such as $100,000+ for the Beacon bid process the results of which were ignored; or the $500,000 for an audit which will do no more than place blame on some city middle managers long gone from the organization. If they cannot practice frugality with their own council budgets why should we expect them to cut city expenses, something so desperately needed, that continue to outpace its revenues?

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Note: I said that I was taking a hiatus for about a week but this blog begged to be written before my hiatus. It is timely now. See you back here after July 15th.)

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

There are two words that apparently are not in Councilmember Alvarez’ dictionary — grace and dignity. On July 3, 2013 the Glendale Star published a story entitled Alvarez sets deadline for departure by its Editor, Carolyn Dryer. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/headlines/article_d7f30530-e413-11e2-8882-0019bb2963f4.html.

Norma publicly exploded after the affirmative vote by a majority of council for the RSE arena management deal. She laid the blame for the lease management’s acceptance at the feet of the entire council by saying,“It’s our fault, letting them (Coyotes prospective owners) do what they want to do.”

The city paid approximately $500,000 for an external audit. In the minds of some councilmembers such as Alvarez, it’s purpose is to fix blame. In the story Alvarez claims the audit will reveal all kinds of dastardly deeds performed by ??? and she says, “I’m waiting for the audit. You’re going to be surprised.” She also hinted that she will resign after the results of the audit are made public and said further, “It’s going public. So, I’m going to wait for that.” She claimed that she told the auditors an ear-full and she probably did but how much was hearsay and how much had a factual basis? You can be sure the audit will be fact based and may not include all of Norma’s titillating tales. If that is the case, you may see a second eruption from Mount Norma.

Sherwood

Gary Sherwood

She then went on to trash her fellow councilmembers. She claimed discrimination by her peers because “I have never been included in this council from the first day I’ve been in. I’m not ‘one of the boys.’” She accused Councilmember Sherwood of usurping the Mayor’s role during the month-long Coyotes negotiation process with, “I’m tired of this person walking around and talking like he’s the mayor. Jerry (Mayor Jerry Weiers) has been courteous to him.” Sherwood did take the lead on the Coyotes negotiation and his rubbing elbows with the likes of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Assistant NHL Commissioner Bill Daley, RSE’s Anthony LeBlanc and Daryl Jones and attorneys Grant Woods and Nick Wood (no relation) had to have made Sherwood feel warm and fuzzy all over. I’m sure his ego was stoked as all of these principals whispered sweet nothings.  She also accused Sherwood of inserting himself into the search for the City Manager process by “When Sherwood got the applications, he called her (new city manager hired Tuesday, Brenda Fischer),” Alvarez said. “We didn’t call anybody; that’s why we have HR. He (Sherwood) came back and told us this is the best person.” While not illegal, as far as I know, it is a highly unusual action by a councilmember.

Chavira photo

Sammy Chavira

There were no kind words for Councilmember Chavira either. A little past history is in order. When Sammy ran in 2012 Norma stood “toe to toe” with Sammy’s bid. She funneled money and workers to his campaign and did everything in her power to assure his election.  With regard to Sammy’s positive vote for the Coyotes’ deal she said, “But he’s a disappointment to the people of Glendale. I know people in Glendale who say they are going to make sure he never wins again.” (More about Sammy’s vote in a future blog.) I would think Norma feels betrayed by the very person she was instrumental in getting elected. If nothing else Norma has a long memory and the resources to make good on her promise about Sammy’s future.

There’s more but you will have to read the article for yourself to capture the full flavor of the outrage Norma expresses. Every councilmember, in any community, has at one time or another, experienced back stabbing, betrayal and countless other unpleasant actions from their peers. It’s not usually aired in public because most have a sense of grace and dignity and realize that it’s part of politics. Alas, they are not words in Norma’s vocabulary.

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