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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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PLEASE CHECK OUT OUR NEW VIDEO TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN ABOUT CHAVIRA’S MOMENT WITH ANTHONY LEBLANC, OWNER OF ICEARIZONA BEFORE VOTING APPROVAL OF THEIR $15 MILLION A YEAR MANAGEMENT CONTRACT.

The August 4th edition of the Glendale Star ran the following under Letters to the Editor.

An open letter to Mark Burdick

“Dear Mr. Burdick:

We are writing you in response to your comments to the editorial staff of The Glendale Star. Specifically, your astounding admission that you were knowingly and deliberately attempting to deceive the voters of Glendale by misrepresenting the record and accomplishments of our current mayor, Jerry Weiers. You explained that your advisors told you that you needed to lie in order to have a chance of winning the race, but this, in no way, relieves you of the responsibility of your deceit.

Your campaign consultants may have advised you to lie, but you willingly agreed to do it. You stood before the people of Glendale and lied. You wrote editorials to newspapers that contained lies. And even after being confronted, you doubled down on the lies.

It is our belief that while a campaign over legitimate policy differences is healthy and worthy of our city, you have run the most dishonorable race imaginable. You cannot lead a city if you cannot be honest with the citizens of that city. Nor would we want you to.

Accordingly, we believe that, through your dishonest actions and gleeful confession, you have disqualified yourself as a legitimate candidate for mayor and we ask that you withdraw from this race. It is unfair to subject the voters of Glendale to another month of lies masquerading as a political campaign.”

Respectfully,

Ray Malnar, Councilmember

Ian Hugh, Vice Mayor

Bobby Casares

John LeGendre

Larry Rovey

Ron Kolb

Norma Alvarez

Adela Guerra

Laura Hirsch

Bobby Gonzalo

Bill Kelleher

Richard and Mickey Lund

Randy Miller, USMC Ret

Tom Traw

Jeff Blake

The reason I have posted this Letter to the Editor is Sammy Chavira, who supports Mark Burdick for Mayor (and after all, why wouldn’t he…they are both in fire; one a former Chief and the other currently a Phoenix fire fighter) took a page out of Mark Burdick’s style of campaigning. He took a kernel of truth and misrepresented it beyond recognition.

Another pro-Chavira mailer hit the streets today. This time paid by Revitalize Arizona with major funding by Residents for Accountability. It’s my understanding that a PAC that spends money on behalf of a Glendale candidate must be registered with the Glendale City Clerk. As of August 4th, neither of these PACs is registered with the Glendale City Clerk according to the City Clerk’s website. In fact, OpenSecrets.org says, “This PAC does not exist in the 2016 election cycle. Try another cycle.” The Residents for Accountability PAC is registered with the City of Tempe but was only active in 2012 and 2013.

It’s another one of those pesky “Independent mailers” supposedly unknown to candidate Chavira nor coordinated with his campaign committee. Haven’t we seen this disclaimer before with his previous mailer? You bet we have. If one had the time to dig deep enough the connections between these two PACs and Sammy would be discovered.

Sammy’s mailer takes one fact: that I chaired the Risk Management and Workers Compensation Trust Fund as the city council representative. That is a fact and is true.

Sammy’s mailer implies that I was a participant or condoned the misappropriation of taxpayer dollars while serving on this board. That is not a fact and not true.

I served as Chairperson of the Board during my last year of council service in 2012. An audit of the money in the Risk Management Trust Fund and Workers Compensation trust fund was conducted in 2012. The misappropriation of funds by city staff members that had the responsibility of managing the funds on a daily basis had occurred several years earlier.

I was not chairperson of the board at the time of misappropriation but I did chair the board when it was discovered and when the solutions to fixing the problems were crafted. The board immediately released its findings with a series of corrective measures to prevent it from happening again — to the city council which accepted the recommendations unanimously.

Sammy’s mailer also says, “…helped lead a spending spree that nearly bankrupted our city.” It’s just another Burdick-like lie. Boy, I wish I had had that kind of power! Things would be a lot different.

No, the spending spree lies at the feet of former Mayor Elaine Scruggs and her band of crony councilmembers. She had the majority of votes on council that approved much of it and included former Councilmembers Yvonne Knaack and Manny Martinez, both of whom have endorsed Mark Burdick.

The mailer goes on to say, “…she called the auditors ‘nitpicky’.” Lie. I did not. I was shocked to learn of the misappropriations and supported all of the conclusions in the auditors’ report. I did say that I thought some of the irrelevant details in the report were “nitpicky.” One word – yet taken completely out of context.

Again, let me remind you all of the accusations against Chavria are fact based upon his decisions and actions and reported in detail in various media, both TV and the newspapers.

As was stated in the above letter, it is unfair to subject the voters of the Yucca district to another month of lies masquerading as a political campaign.”

Sammy has done the same that Burdick has done by misrepresenting the record and accomplishments.” Is it any wonder that Sammy is endorsing Burdick? There’s an old adage, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

These men are part of a “flock” that has no place in the leadership of Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

Bread and circuses

Posted by Joyce Clark on February 1, 2015
Posted in City of GlendaleGlendale and the Super Bowl  | Tagged With: , | No Comments yet, please leave one

Today is February 1, 2015 and will forever be known as Super Bowl 49 Sunday. My city, Glendale, is the host city for today’s event. I live within spitting distance of the stadium and like my neighbors, we are hunkered down for the day. We’ve lain in supplies and will wait out the day’s mind bending and unending stream of traffic. It’s around noon and the game will be played in a couple of hours. I woke this morning to a dense layer of fog…something about excess moisture and warm air. Now the sun has come out and burnt off the thick, grey fog to the delight of the media, the fans and the NFL. The Valley of the Sun will keep its moniker intact as it breathes a deep sigh of relief.

Our sky is awash with blimps, helicopters and small planes. The helicopters range from media types to security to aircraft delivering VIPs to Glendale’s airport. Small planes fly banners advertising Bud or KFC and also deliver VIPs to the airport. Geez…It’s noisy and busy up there! That’s strange. I thought there was a no-fly zone around the stadium. I guess that’s just for ordinary folk.

Did you know that nearly 6,000 journalists, media folk, etc., are covering today’s Super Bowl? The media isn’t just American but come from Germany, India, England and Japan to name just a few of the countries represented. Heck, I was contacted by a French journalist for an interview. It is predicted that this game will engender the highest TV rating of any show or event ever televised.

This event provides the real reason for this blog of bread and circuses. That phrase was first used by the Roman poet Juvenal in his treatise, Satires, commenting on the Roman Republic’s evolution into a dictatorship. His original quote was, “Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt.” He went on to say, Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things–bread and circuses.” He believed that the general public had gradually substituted the value of democracy in favor of a daily diet of spectacles.

Here’s another historical tidbit. The Roman Emperor Claudius (41-54 A. D.) maintained a calendar of 159 holidays and 93 were for games at public expense. In addition, there were special occasion and private holidays. Hundreds of thousands of people in Rome were on public assistance and those who worked, worked a full time week of less than 40 hours. The ruling class worked hard to ensure that no one went hungry or was bored for they believed “a people that yawns is ripe for revolt.” Does this sound familiar?

Our nation’s narcotic is television.  It would be easy to lay the blame on the media as our drug dealer of choice. But the blame lies within ourselves. We make a conscious choice as to what books we will read, the movies we will watch, the websites we visit and the television shows we tune into. The media simply provides what we crave. We crave games, celebrity news and reality TV.

The effects of our drug of choice lay all around us if we care to pay attention to them. Our children rank in the 20s among the top 100 countries in reading, math and science. We have become numb to violence. The beheading of an American or Japanese journalist is no more jarring than an episode of NYPD, the Stalker or Blacklist. The lines between violent TV and real violence have become blurred and there is a consequent loss of empathy. The death of a pop culture figure has become more important to the masses than the deaths of thousands in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS.  Sadly, more people can name the Seattle and Patriot quarterbacks than can name the Vice President or the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice. “Deflategate” is more important than a national deficit of $18 trillion dollars.

We are rapidly losing the ability to distinguish between what is really important to our need to thrive as a nation, our very survival and those things which titillate and amuse our insatiable desire for entertainment.

Have we become a nation that superficial? Not yet…but that is our future if we fail to refocus. In an increasingly hostile world with threats to our very essence as a democracy the need to preserve freedom is no longer an option but a necessity.

The daily dose of circus entertainment guarantees that we will threaten no one as we preoccupy ourselves with the inconsequential. How numb do we have to become before we wake up? We choose bread and circuses at our peril.

© 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.

In the November 6, 2014 edition of the Glendale Star it was reported that, “the attorney general’s office confirmed it had received all necessary information and is investigating the issue against four members of Glendale City Council.” To refresh your memory on June 29, 2013 Councilmember Gary Sherwood sent the following email to Councilmember Manny Martinez:

June 29, 2013

To: Martinez, Manny; Jeff Teesel

From: Sherwood, Gary

RE: Out Clause and Risk Topics

“Yvonne and I spend over an hour with Nick Woods last night and out of the three concerns from what I shared with Nick after our e-session yesterday (as of 7:45p, Nick has not seen the city’s revised draft which was promised right after we got of e-session nor had it been posted to our website – consequently both happened by 8:45p) two were okay with the city and had to deal with the errors the city made — #1, we don’t own the 5500 parking spots we’re proposing to charge for therefore it must be a license agreement and not a license agreement  (sic) #2) since the bonds that are held against the arena are tax exempt – only a governmental agency can hold those bonds so some different language has to be brought in – city agreed with that. The third item is problematic in that it is against the NHL for cities to hold out-clause and none of the other 29 cities have one. That would allow the city to just kick the team out, where would they play, what if in the middle of the season.

“I don’t have the time to get into all the details but I’ve known Nick Woods for a long time and know him to be a trusted friend and right now I can’t turn my back away from anyone in the city manager’s office or out (sic) acting city attorney.

“Manny, I’ve got a booked day with two Habitat for Humanity events, three radio interviews and two TV spots so contact Yvonne for details of our conversation. Sammy is already on board as he was with us last night.

“Thanks for hanging in there!

“Manny – please delete this email after you’ve read it.”

In the Star article Sherwood mounts a defense of his actions. I would remind all that just because something is in print doesn’t make it necessarily true. I could be the Queen of England in print but that is not true. Sherwood asserts the email was innocent and there was no collusion between councilmembers but that doesn’t make it true.  Councilmember Sammy Chavira uses the time honored phrase, “I do not recall…” Just because someone doesn’t “recall” doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Yet Sherwood, in his email, clearly states that “Sammy was already on board as he was with us last night.” If he did not have a conversation with Sammy that night he must have had a conversation at some time with Sammy to be able to confidently declare that “Sammy was on board…”

Vice Mayor Knaack is also back pedaling with her statement, “I do not recall discussing the terms of the deal or any other substantive discussions about the city-Coyotes business deal during the telephone conversation.” Yet again, Sherwood clearly states in his June 29 email that Yvonne and he spent an hour discussing terms of the deal with Coyotes’ attorney Nick Wood. Either Sherwood is lying or Chavira and Knaack are lying. Take your pick.

Facts are facts. Sherwood confirms that Knaack and Sherwood had an hour long conversation with Coyotes’ attorney Nick Wood. Sherwood refers to the substance of the conversation and that it was about the terms of the city-Coyotes deal and what had transpired in a city council e-session held prior to the phone conversation. There was no other city business that would have necessitated a conversation between Sherwood, Knaack and Wood. Sherwood stated unequivocally that Sammy supported the deal. Sherwood sent his email to Martinez to share results of that conversation.

It appears Sherwood was at the center sharing information about the Coyotes deal with the other three councilmembers, Knaack, Martinez and Chavira, in order to keep them informed and quite frankly, to keep them in line to vote in favor of the deal.

Another just as troubling aspect of the current Star article was this, “The city hired the firm of Simms Murray Ltd. To create and present the city’s case to the attorney general on this alleged open meeting violation.” How much will the city end up paying to defend against the latest alleged transgressions of four councilmembers?

It brings up memories of another such situation where the city paid the personally incurred attorney’s fees for councilmembers. Do you remember the 2006 indictments against Councilmembers David Goulette, Steve Frate, Tom Eggleston, Manny Martinez and City Clerk Pam Hanna? All elected officials are required to submit annual financial disclosure statements at the end of every January as a means of publicly disclosing any possible conflict of interest. These four councilmembers submitted them after the due date and back dated their disclosure statements and were indicted for it. They were not exonerated. Rather a judge ruled in March of 2006 that the city attorney could not testify against them due to attorney client privilege. The following month city council approved a “transfer of general fund contingency appropriation authority and funds in the amount of $500,000 to cover the additional anticipated costs associated with special projects.” The “special projects” were the personal attorney’s fees for the four indicted councilmembers. In 2006 the very same councilmembers that were indicted also voted in the affirmative to have the city pay their attorneys’ fees. It looks as if history is about to repeat itself.

© 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.

The major categories of debt that Glendale carries have been identified in the bdu-4-pocket-khaki-tan-jacket-100-ripstop-cotton[1]previous 4 blogs. How the revenues are spent has also been explored.  The next question is…was the issuance of all Glendale debt prudent and necessary?

The issuance of Enterprise Fund debt, Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) debt and Transportation debt has historically been reasonable and prudent. The debt associated with these three funds are for the “bricks and mortar” of the city. They fund projects for the construction of new infrastructure as Glendale grew and for the repair and maintenance of all city infrastructures. They were used on projects as diverse as new water treatment facilities to new traffic lights to Northern Parkway.

There is one form of debt that I have not covered previously and that is the Interfund Loan debt. The General Fund borrowed from the Water/Sewer, Landfill, Sanitation, Technology Replacement and Vehicle Replacement Funds to cover two annual $25 million management fee payments to the National Hockey League (NHL) for Jobing.com Arena during Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. The first $25 million annual fee payment in 2011 came from the General Fund’s Contingency Fund and no Enterprise Funds were used.

The second $25 million annual fee payment in 2012 came from loans from the above mentioned funds with the lion’s share of $20 million borrowed from the Water/Sewer Enterprise Fund. We know from Ordinance 1451 that, “The sanitation fund shall be a separate and protected fund, to be used for no other purpose than expenses associated with sanitation services.” The other Enterprise Fund Ordinances carry the same caveat.

There are some who have heart burn over the concept of the city having borrowed money from these funds. What they fail to recognize is that over many years, General Fund dollars were used to support these funds by carrying some of the Enterprise Fund employees or by not receiving full compensation for the support functions performed by General Fund employees. Historically, over the years, the Enterprise Funds have been supported financially in some form or fashion by the General Fund. Under those circumstances borrowing from the Enterprise Funds is not as egregious as some think it to be. Here is just one example of the financial interrelationship between the General Fund and the Enterprise Funds occurring on January 8, 2013, This is a request for City Council to waive reading beyond the title and adopt an ordinance approving an operating cash transfer from the General Fund (GF) to the Water/Sewer Enterprise Fund; and the transfer of 3.5 Full Time Employees (FTEs), and the associated appropriation authority, from the Water/Sewer Enterprise Fund to the GF, both of which are within the Financial Services Department.”

The debt issuance decisions associated with the General Obligation (G.O.) bonds and the Municipal Property Corporation (MPC) bonds have not always been prudent or even necessary. As has been stated previously some of the council decisions were political. In the G.O. bond category just two examples are: the accelerated advancement of the Foothills Recreation & Aquatic Center which was politically motivated; as was the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) number 1 placement of the Public Safety & Training Facility (PSTF). The PSTF was funded with a combination of G.O. debt and MPC debt.

Was the need for either of these facilities critical? No. Those that get everything in north Glendale wanted more and in this case it was their own recreation and aquatic center so that they wouldn’t have to travel down “there.” The number of resident-owned swimming pools in north Glendale and especially the Cholla district is astronomical compared to any other region of Glendale. It’s ironic that this facility has become regional serving the interests of Peoria and Phoenix residents. Councilmember Martinez would be quick to point out that the facility earned revenues that just about cover the annual O&M facility costs but those revenues do not cover the debt issued to pay for its construction. That’s being paid off by every property owner in Glendale with their secondary property tax.

Was the need for a Public Safety Training Facility (PSTF) critical? Again, the answer is No. To this day new police recruits go to a regional police academy such as the Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA) for initial training. The PSTF is used by Glendale police for advanced training only, another function whose needs can be met elsewhere. The Glendale fire department just had to have this facility even though they have always been able to obtain training slots for new recruits at the regional facilities in Phoenix and Mesa. Training slots had never been an issue. Suddenly the dearth of slots became the rationale for Glendale’s very own training facility.

Lastly we arrive at the MPC Bond debt. Were the projects funded by MPC debt critical and necessary? The answer is No.  Decisions regarding MPC expenditures were often political. Former Mayor Scruggs always went ballistic when she heard references to Glendale as the town of “hicks and sticks, plows and cows.” She and former City Manager Ed Beasley shared a vision. Their vision was that Glendale would become an equal of the well known Valley cities who had developed a niche and a city brand for themselves. Tempe is known as a college town. Scottsdale has always been the “west’s most western town.” Chandler and Gilbert were becoming the technology towns. Glendale wanted to be the sports town.

The former mayor often had majority council support from Councilmembers Eggleston, Martinez, Frate and Goulet. All wanted Glendale to be a member of the “big boys’ club” that included cities like Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. All had cache and Glendale had none. The road to acceptance meant Glendale’s branding as a sports and entertainment mecca and accepting the cost associated with making that a reality. As major developments appeared and wanted costly incentives to locate in and around the Westgate area, more and more MPC debt was issued.

Glendale has issued more MPC debt than it can sustain for such projects as Jobing.com Arena, Camelback Ranch, the Regional Public Safety Training Facility, Zanjero infrastructure and the Westgate parking garage, media center & convention center. All…very “big ticket” projects. These projects are the albatrosses hanging from Glendale’s neck.

The final blog in this series will explore any possible solutions to paying down or eliminating the MPC debt. Can it be done? Yes but it requires the will to do so.

© 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.

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