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PLEASE CHECK OUT THE CHAVIRA VIDEOS, ESPECIALLY “MONEY, MONEY” TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN.
It has been 18 years and 202 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
The July 8, 2016 edition of the Arizona Republic has an editorial penned by Phil Boas. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/editorial/2016/07/07/sammy-chavira-glendale-travel/86789948/ . In part he says, “Glendale council members have also shied away from tackling the problem head-on by censuring Chavira. Shying away from that action also would be a mistake.” He goes on to say, “It is important, indeed, to refine policies and procedures to ensure ethical, professional practices. And we hope Glendale officials come through soon with clearer standards, including on junkets, freebies and late fees.
“But those efforts don’t preclude the mayor and council from passing judgment on a colleague’s decisions that were clearly inappropriate. And sending a message to constituents that the illegitimate use of their taxes isn’t tolerated. That requires and overdue – and well-deserved – censure.”
I agree. The problem is that a majority of council may not. Obviously Chavira must recuse himself in such deliberation and consequent action. That leaves a council of 6 members. Lately there has grown to be a 3 to 3 split between them with Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama vs. Weiers, Hugh and Malnar. Take the latest major issue, light rail. The vote was 4-3 to approve and move forward – Turner, Tolmachoff, Aldama (and Chavira) for approval and Weiers, Hugh and Malnar against, citing the need for more information on their unanswered questions.
There are mechanisms in council guidelines that allow fellow councilmembers to sanction one another. They have never been used but it seems appropriate in Chavira’s case. How can a split council decide on censure for Chavira? The public perception, rightly or wrongly, is that Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama would not support Chavira’s censure. So, they are at an impasse and the public may never see the very message the Arizona Republic calls for – that of “sending a message to constituents that the illegitimate use of their taxes isn’t (and will no longer) be tolerated.”
Add to a split council, the fact that Glendale’s City Attorney, Michael Bailey, had given Chavira a pass by publicly stating that he could find nothing wrong with Sammy’s spending. City councilmembers are his bosses so of course, he’s not going to throw one of them under the bus. What should have occurred and did not, was for Bailey to ask an independent third party, such as a city attorney from another jurisdiction, to review and make a decision.
In governmental terms, $25,000 is not a lot of money. In citizen terms, especially when it’s their taxes, it is. There are people at the poverty level who earn no more than that in an entire year. There are senior citizens who receive no more than that amount each year from Social Security. Chavira makes far more than that annually. Between his Phoenix firefighter position and his councilmember salary it seems he would be in the six-figure range.
That brings up another action that should be required and that is reimbursement to the city. Obviously Sammy can afford to do so but don’t hold your breath. It is unlikely that Glendale taxpayers will see this council censure one of its own or will see Sammy repay the money he lavished on trips.
Sammy’s only censure will come from the voters of the Yucca district at the Primary Election on August 30th for they will make clear their anger.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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