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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE THREE CHAVIRA VIDEOS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN AND PLEASE DONATE TO MY CAMPAIGN.

It has been 18 years and 180 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Rarely does Glendale make a good news headline these days but unbelievably, it has happened. On June 13, 2016, Paul Giblin offered a story in the Arizona Republic entitled Glendale business boom: New companies, jobs headed to city. Giblin tells us, “More than a dozen companies have either moved to Glendale or expanded in the city this year…” representing “approximately 1,000 immediate jobs and 3,000 jobs at build out.” Here is the link to his story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/06/13/glendale-business-boom-new-companies-jobs-headed-city/83852820/?hootPostID=6ada3683edf973f91ab90c9ddc9731c8 .

Who is responsible for the good news? City council? Nah. City Manager Phelps? Nah. The real heroes of this story are Glendale Economic Development Director Brian Friedman and his team. Of the 95,000 person workforce in Glendale, 84,000 travel outside of Glendale to work. Only 11,000 Glendale residents are employed within the city. It should be noted that 59,600 non-Glendale residents travel to work inside Glendale. Congratulations to Brian Freidman and his team. Keep up the good work as Glendale continues its economic resurgence.

One of my readers sent me mayoral candidate Burdick’s latest blast email. In it, I was particularly drawn to this, “Glendale residents deserve well-paying, fulfilling and abundant employment. We have the ability to recruit new, high-paying employers to our region, but unfortunately, many employers and developers look past Glendale because of ongoing budget problems, broken promises and failed relationships.”

There is no doubt that our residents want good, high-paying jobs where they live – here in Glendale. It seems pretty apparent that is exactly what Brian Freidman’ goal is. That is exactly what Freidman is creating in Glendale.

Three days after Giblin’s good news story about job creation and new businesses coming to Glendale, Burdick, in apparent ignorance of the facts, says that new employers are NOT coming to Glendale. I guess Burdick and his team don’t read a newspaper very often. How embarrassing.

I’ve been sent several of Burdick’s email blasts by my readers. What seems to be lacking in all of them are any semblance of fact to back up his claims. Where are they?

At least when I refer to my opponent’s ethical challenges, there are facts gathered from the media or city council minutes to back them. For instance, his travel expenditures were well documented in the Arizona Republic on March 4, 2016. His traffic citation and failure to appear in court were reported by the Glendale Star on April 28, 2016 and his record of absences can be found in city council minutes.

Now, a little of this…the light rail issue, is one of the most divisive in modern Glendale history. A few weeks ago Glendale Councilmember Ray Malnar offered to the public cost estimates to build 7 miles of light rail beginning at the end of the Phoenix light rail and culminating in Glendale on either the east or west side of Grand Avenue. Here are the cost estimates he provided:

  • Glendale Total cost (7 miles) $560,000,000.00
  • Federal Funds 50% $280,000,000.00
  • Glendale Sales Tax (GO Transportation Program) 17.5% $84,000,000.00
  • Phoenix T-2050 Tax 17.5% $112,000,000.00
  • WEST PHOENIX-CENTRAL GLENDALE – Regional Funding 15% $84,000,000.00
  • Assumes 50% federal funds and 15% regional funds
  • Assumes local share is split 4/7 Phoenix (4 miles in Phoenix), 3/7 Glendale (3 miles in Glendale)

Councilmember Malnar went on to report, “The latest estimated maintenance cost is $1.5 Million per mile for a total of $10.5 million per year. Based on the 3/7, 4/7 split between Glendale and Phoenix, the estimated Glendale cost per year for maintenance and operation of the 3-mile section would be $4.3 million per year. These costs are estimated to be reduced by about 1/3 from passenger fares, advertising and other income sources.”   

These are important facts to consider. Cost estimates for Glendale’s portion are $84 million dollars which comes out of Glendale’s GO Transportation sales tax revenues and the annual estimated maintenance cost to Glendale would be in the $4 million dollar range (cost reduced by 1/3 resulting in estimated cost of $3 million dollars per year).

The question of light rail in Glendale at this time and its associated costs demand another public vote expressing ratification or denial of the light rail concept in Glendale. The last vote on the issue was in 2001, 15 years ago, and resident’s priorities may have changed since that vote. Residents need the facts regarding costs and then the right to determine if this is how they want the transportation sales tax to be spent. Are there other priorities for which $84 million dollars of transportation sales tax could be used?

Now, a little of that…the elusive proof of insurance for the Cinco de Mayo Festival has finally been located and produced. Former Councilmember Norma Alvarez received the document as a result of yet another Public Information Request. She shared the result of that request and I am now sharing it with you. Here is a copy of the insurance: BreakthruChurchInsurance 2

Please note that it is under Barrio Breakthru Community Church. It would appear that a claim for the estimated $50,000 of criminal damage to city hall can be made against their policy. It would also be highly appropriate for the city to notify Barrio Breakthru Community Church and/or Productions that it will perform an audit of the $5,000 donated to them by Councilmembers Chavira and Aldama for their Cinco de Mayo event. After all, it is taxpayer money and the public has the right to learn if the $5,000 was spent appropriately.

Lastly…the Scottsdale city council had selected 3 finalists in its search for a new city manager. One of those finalists was Jim Colson, a former Economic Development Director for Glendale. On a 6 to 1 vote, the Scottsdale city council has directed that it will begin a new search with all finalists having been rejected.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘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 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 material. 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.

It has been 17 years and 233 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Slavin Management Consultants, the firm hired for the city manager search, should be presenting its list of finalists to the city council at any time. What should the Glendale city council consider in choosing finalists?

During my 16 years on city council I worked with various interim and permanent city managers, Dr. Martin Vanacour, Ed Beasley, Horatio Skeete and Dick Bowers. I never worked with Brenda Fischer which was probably a good thing. I think we would have butted heads from day one and I quickly would have been at the top of her *hit list.

What qualities did these city managers possess that served them, the city council and the people of Glendale well? One major quality was that of responsiveness to anyone and everyone. Under Dr. Vanacour it didn’t matter if a citizen was a ditch digger or stock broker. If a citizen called his office, without fear or favor, every issue received a quick and efficient response. Sometimes an issue was resolved to the citizen’s satisfaction…sometimes not but every issue got an answer…not in weeks but in days. The same occurred with councilmember questions and requests.

Another quality that stood Dr. Vanacour, and now Dick Bowers, in good stead there was, and is, no favoritism shown toward any councilmember. All were, and are, treated equally and with respect. Information provided to one councilmember was also provided to the rest of the council. Neither had or has a reporting system where employees are required to report every interaction with a councilmember to the city manager’s office.

Council requires a city manager that shares information willingly and openly and in a timely manner with city council and citizens. Many of council’s previous decisions during the tenure of Ed Beasley were made in either a vacuum or with ginned up information designed to get council to approve a specific outcome. Dr. Vanacour practiced sharing complete information and Dick Bowers is doing the same. If Dick Bowers were willing, Glendale could not do better than to hire Dick Bowers on a permanent basis. However, Mr. Bowers is retired. He graciously agreed to serve short term in Glendale’s hour of need. He wants to be retired once again and to spend time with his family and friends. He’s earned it.

The next city manager must show that he or she truly respects and values all employees within the Glendale governmental family. For too long Glendale’s employees have experienced a work atmosphere based upon fear and favoritism. The city manager must show no bias toward any specific department and make financial resource decisions and recommendations to council based upon the most effective use of taxpayer dollars.

The city manager’s fiscal philosophy should be a conservative one. He or she should believe, as a core principle, that a government’s fiscal decisions are not based on tax increases or growing the size of government. Glendale has learned the hard way that it’s not the size of government that determines the quality of service to its citizens. It learned that the same superior service delivery can be accomplished despite the reduction in the number of employees delivering the service. It’s an individual’s commitment to excellence that counts…not the number of employees on the payroll.

Council should look for a city manager with extended experience, intelligence and adaptability. The last thing the city needs is someone who has been a department head or assistant somewhere. The city needs a city manager with city manager experience and knowledge. The candidate has to have the requisite knowledge and flexibility to hit the ground running.

Lastly, the new city manager must learn to love Glendale. Dr. Vanacour did and still does to this day. Mr. Bowers, retired city manager of Scottsdale, has always exhibited a love for and genuine concern for Glendale. That is obvious in his commitment to serve as its Interim City Manager. Glendale owes Dick Bowers a great deal.

I would strongly suggest that the citizens of Glendale are offered the public opportunity to “meet and greet” all of them before the final selection. This is so important for Glendale and gaining public support at the outset will help smooth the transition to a new city manager. A “meet and greet” not just for stakeholders such as Chamber of Commerce folk or college presidents but for ordinary citizens who take an active interest in and participate in their local government.

In summary, it is my hope that city council will weigh and measure these qualities of the city manager candidates very carefully:

  • Responsiveness to all
  • Respect for all
  • Practices open government
  • Respects and values all employees
  • Conservative fiscal philosophy
  • Previous city manager experience
  • Intelligence and adaptability
  • Willingness to embrace the entire community

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

The Glendale city council has a once-in-lifetime opportunity. With the departure of former City Manager Brenda Fischer it has an opportunity to build a legacy of good government and meaningful leadership with its selection of the next City Manager.

City Managers since the departure in 2001 of City Manager, Dr. Martin Vanacour, created a culture of fear and dysfunctional ethical behavior among employees. The culture that grew after 2001 promoted a genuine distain for Glendale’s residents. While Brenda Fischer is the most recent city manager she is not totally responsible for a local governmental culture run amok.

For years and recently exacerbated, there has been a lack of employee confidence in senior management causing an exodus of talented professionals. Those who left observed the problems, refused to participate and simply moved on. The appointment of key personnel, from former city manager regimes, into positions of power (often abused) sent the wrong signal. At various times employees virtually spied on one another and have been required to report the context of any interaction with a councilmember to senior management. Various city managers instructed employees to withhold relevant information from selected councilmembers and in some cases, all councilmembers. Upper management has and currently still does, direct a certain viewpoint be presented to council rather than offering just the facts portraying both the negatives and positives of a proposal. The mantra delivered daily was “speak no evil” of or about Glendale. Massage negative perceptions and make them disappear.

Employees are trained to show the utmost respect for citizens. Yet these same employees are often sent out to shill an already preapproved and predetermined outcome to an unwitting public. The “Library War” is the most current example. It is far more important that they please the city manager than do the right thing for the good of the city and its residents.

Most personnel worked under these regimes silently. The few brave souls that witnessed unethical behavior or saw the use of misinformation and refused to lie about it blew the whistle and were forced out. Others, viewing the results, continued to keep silent and became complicit in allowing such a culture to thrive.

I am not referring, for want of a better term, to the “worker bees.” Worker bees are those men and women on the line delivering service daily, dealing one-on-one with residents’ concerns, picking up our trash, answering an emergency call or repairing a water line. Their culture is truly dedicated to Glendale’s residents.

Fischer’s misdeeds are merely the latest and most public demonstrations of a culture gone awry from the very top down. When employees see a city manager act unethically they quickly learn that it is acceptable. Such actions included the hiring of a then unqualified Frisoni as an Assistant City Manager; a public temper tantrum; the abrupt dismissal of Planning Director Jon Froke (more on this in an upcoming blog); allowing certain employees to resign and be rehired with a different title performing the same work for a lot more salary (more on this in an upcoming blog); and the request for targeted councilmembers’ emails.

Ed Beasley, a former City Manager, was known for his “inner circle” of senior personnel. He made sure his friends like Art Lynch (golden parachute) and Alma Carmichael (worked from Mississippi) were protected and his enemies…not so much. His control of the organization was absolute and he expected information on everyone and everything. When he received a majority of the council’s rebuke, no more than a slap on the wrist, for his DUI employees throughout the organization recognized he was unassailable. Another cultural message sent and received.

During the period when council was actively considering more personnel layoffs, Acting City Manager Horatio Skeete, remarked that he could not bring himself to recommend laying off employees because they were his “friends.” Another signal was sent throughout the organization – performance didn’t matter – it was who you knew. His message was clear – employees were more important than the financial health of the city.

What’s next? The council must appoint an Acting City Manager. That may occur as early as this Tuesday, February 17, 2015. Their best bet would be to ask Dick Bowers, former Scottsdale City Manager and Glendale’s Acting City Manager during council’s previous search. Mr. Bowers is a very intelligent man and understands the role of caretaker while the search is conducted. He also understands the principle of “do no harm.” Anyone currently within the Glendale organization who is appointed as Acting City Manager fully expects to vie for the job and expects it to be an advantage.

The search for a new City Manager should be a nationwide search. Hopefully council will select a candidate from Alaska or Timbuktu. This organization needs someone fresh, with no loyalties to specific personnel. This time a background check is required and someone should talk to candidate’s current management and line employees. Qualities to look for, in random order include:

  • Possesses integrity
  • Listens to all without prejudice
  • Welcomes change
  • Recognizes performance matters most
  • Encourages open two way dialogue
  • Interacts with all organizations and stakeholder interests within the community
  • Serves all councilmembers equally
  • Intelligent
  • Experienced
  • Ability to get along with all
  • Retain independence from council
  • Good communication skills
  • Can develop good rapport with council and employees
  • Although not required, someone who commits to living in Glendale

Will the Glendale city council squander this opportunity? It is possible. Four of the council were seated in January of 2012 and have two years each of current experience: Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh (served on council for 5 years many years ago), Councilmembers Sherwood and Chavira. Three of the council were seated in January of this year and have two months each of experience: Councilmembers Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama. Collectively the mayor and council have a total of 8 years and 6 months of council experience. While some of them have had other previous governmental experience (such as Mayor Weiers in state government) it’s not the same (no matter what they tell you) as serving on a local level as a councilmember.

Can council do their job of choosing a new City Manager effectively? Let’s hope they can. This time let’s hope that Councilmember Sherwood does not insert himself independently into the selection process and attempt to micromanage it in his favor. Let’s hope council can put political wrangling aside and realize the enormity of the challenge before them. Let’s hope they require the new city manager to clean house, eliminate protected classes of employees and restore organizational integrity and the people’s confidence in their local government. Let’s hope they possess the wisdom to allow the new city manager to do the job without their interference.

Let’s hope they can do the right thing.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

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