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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE CHAVIRA VIDEOS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN. EACH IS ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF IN LENGTH.

It has been 18 years and 190 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

June 24, 2016, marks another milestone of 350,000 reads of my blog since I began in February of 2013. That averages about 100,000 reads a year. I am pleased and very grateful to all those who have become faithful readers. Thank you. In addition, in 3 months, over 1,000 people have viewed my 3 Chavira videos. Again, thank you for taking the time to view them.

In Sammy Chavira’s latest weekly e-newsletter of June 24, 2016, he said, “After serving 17 years as a Phoenix firefighter and Glendale City Council Member, Chavira helped bring a Super Bowl to Cardinals Stadium.” Gosh, in addition to all his other misdeeds now we can add embellishment and exaggeration.

While Sammy may have served 17 years as a Phoenix firefighter, he certainly, thankfully, hasn’t served as a Glendale councilmember for 17 years. He has only served one term of 4 years. As for “Chavira helped bring a Super Bowl to Cardinals Stadium.” Really? And how might he have helped? The bid for a Super Bowl and the choice of the stadium for the last Super Bowl was made long before Sammy became a councilmember.

We have just another example of Sammy’s misdirection of the facts and an attempt to give himself recognition for something he did not do.  Add to his practice of embellishment, his lavish trips at taxpayer expense, his failure to attend council meetings and to hold district meetings and his failure to appear in court with a subsequent suspension of his driver’s license while he claimed it was “a minor glitch.”

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at some of the promises made by Sammy in the campaign mailings he sent to voters in his first run for office in 2012. In one campaign mailing Sammy said, “On the City Council, he’ll fight to protect funding for local schools and excellent, academically-enriched after school programs.” Or how about this from another campaign mailing, “Sam understands that good jobs and good schools go hand in hand. He will fight to fully fund Head Start, support education tax credits for our local schools, and make after school programs more curriculum based.” These statements represent one of two positions – take your pick. Fact: The Glendale city council has no authority over federal or local education policies, curriculum or funding. That is the responsibility of your district school board whether it is the Pendergast Elementary School District or the Glendale Elementary School District. Sammy either didn’t know the facts — which makes him ignorant or he knew the facts and he chose to be deceptive.

Here’s another promise from Sammy.2012. “Too many sweetheart arena deals for out-of-state corporations have left us deeply in debt. Sam will prioritize public safety, education and public libraries and isn’t afraid to say no to special interests.” Or how about, “No more sweetheart deals. The city needs to be a tough negotiator, making smart planning decisions that preserve Glendale’s future.” It would appear that Sammy never met a “sweetheart” deal that he didn’t like. He apparently traded votes with former Councilmember Sherwood, flip-flopping on his promise to protect taxpayers from exorbitant, $15 million dollars a year arena management fees with…you guessed it…an out-of-state corporation.

He seems to favor those who contributed large sums of money to his campaign such as Mark Becker of the Becker Billboard issue that surfaced in Glendale last year.

How has he “prioritized public libraries” by supporting a 7,500 square foot modular building as west Glendale’s branch library? It’s insulting that he thinks so little of his constituency that he throws them this kind of bone.

How has Sammy made “smart planning decisions?” By allowing a residential project like Stonehaven in the Yucca district? A residential project in which 43% of the homes will be on 5,500 square foot lots (smaller than that which is required by the city’s standard R1-6 zoning that requires a minimum of 6,000 square foot lots). That kind of “smart planning decision” devalues all of the homes that surround this project.

There’s more, so much more of Sammy’s deceptions…for another blog, I think. Sammy promised a lot and delivered…nothing. Sammy earns a fire fighter’s pay check as well as a councilmember’s pay check of $35,000 a year. Yet he has failed to do his job as a Glendale councilmember. He’s often absent from council meetings and can’t seem to find the time to reach out to, much less listen to, his Yucca district constituents or their concerns.  It’s time to let Sammy go back to being a fire fighter and not a double dipper. It seems as if he can handle only one job at a time.

© 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.

This afternoon I will be visiting the City Clerk’s office at Glendale City Hall for the purpose of picking up a nominating petition packet and establishing a political committee. Yes, I have decided to run for the Yucca district councilmember seat.

I took my time to really think about it. I weighed the pros and cons. I talked to family and friends and asked for their unvarnished opinions. Since Norma Alvarez’ Letter to Editor was published I have been inundated with positive phone calls and emails. My former constituents want me to run. They want to “get their voice back.”

Why am I running? For fame and glory? Hardly. Being a councilmember is time consuming. There are not just the Tuesdays one gives up for council meetings and workshops. There are weekends doing “homework” after council books are delivered. There are small meetings with neighborhood groups. There are the countless phone calls to solve a constituent problem, to listen to a constituent concern or to hear a constituent opinion. There are local functions and regional meetings representing the leadership of our community. It’s a thankless job where more often than not, complaints rather than compliments prevail.

I can and will be the voice of my constituency. I can and will resume holding district meetings. I can and will send out district newsletters. I can and will be available by phone, email and in person to listen to constituents. I can and will use my abilities to make the best decisions possible for all of Glendale. I can and will seek innovative ways to deliver the best possible services to all the people of Glendale.

Sammy has failed to do all of those things. Sammy has failed to reach out to and to listen to his constituents. Sammy has failed to have district meetings and in his term had only one, in early 2013. Sammy has never sent out a district newsletter instead relying on his e-newsletter written by staff. Sammy has not been available and has often canceled scheduled meetings with Glendale residents. Sammy has taken to participating at council meetings telephonically. Sammy has done nothing at council meetings other than to thank everyone.

Perhaps more importantly Sammy has squandered taxpayer dollars with trips that did not serve the interests of Glendale such as going to D.C. to see the Pope or to witness his buddy’s induction into Congress. Sammy has squandered taxpayer dollars by financially supporting Glendale festivals that failed such as $8,000 of taxpayer money for a Watermelon Festival and      $2,500 of taxpayer money at a festival that promoted political candidates of just one political party. Sammy has squandered taxpayer dollars by picking up the tab for lavish meals such as a $420 dinner in D.C. for his boss, the Phoenix Fire Chief, and others including her husband. Sammy appears to be using his position as a councilmember who voted for supporting the casino to obtain a job at this casino from the Tohono O’odham. Sammy has not only failed to serve his constituency but he has also failed to work in the best interests of our entire community.

I have done the job before. I know that I can be effective and responsive. We may not agree on every issue but on those issues where we do not agree I will listen respectfully. I am ready and willing to serve my community again.

Here is the Press Release issued today:

Press Release Mar 2016

As I run you can expect blogs on how and what one does when one runs for a local office. I suspect that you will learn things that you did not know or never considered. I do know one thing. I cannot take this journey without your support. You answered the call when I asked that you share your opinion about my running but there is more to be done. I need your support. I need your help in collecting nominating petition signatures. Can you canvass your neighborhood for me? If you cannot walk, can you make calls? Can you help to prepare political mailings? Can you host a get together at your home so that I might answer questions posed by you and your neighbors? Can you plant a yard sign in front of your home? Lastly, can you contribute to my campaign? Even $5 will help. Many small contributions do add up.

Let the race begin and let’s “get your voice back.”

© 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.

 

It has been 18 years and 68 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

City council held its first budget workshop on February 16, 2016. Here is the schedule of future budget workshops:

  • March 15, 2016             9 AM
  • April 5, 2016                 9 AM
  • April 19, 2016               9 AM
  • April 21, 2016               9 AM

This first budget workshop was a review of all budget components as of December 31, 2015 or the first two quarters of Fiscal Year 2016. The only item which required council consensus for direction was the issue of raising the Secondary Property Tax rate to the maximum of 2% as allowed by state law. Council consensus was…nothing. They gave no direction to staff. Look for the vote on acceptance of a property tax rate in June when council must publicly vote on the issue.

Senior staff’s presentation on the budget’s performance was pure “government speak.” Here’s a good example, “(General Fund) Revenues are $11.2 million or 11% higher than revenues at the same time last year.” Boy, that sounds really, really good. Wait a minute. Staff then said, “Out of the $11.2 million increase in revenues, $8.3 million is due to consolidation of the general fund sub-funds into the General Fund.”

In plain English what that statement means is this. General fund sub-funds are the Arena, Camelback Ranch, Zanjero, Civic Center and Stadium events. This is not a complete list but you get the idea. Prior to this Fiscal Year, 2015-16, the sub-funds stood separately. Staff had to report on the revenues received and expenditures of all sub-funds. This Fiscal year they were rolled into the General Fund for “accounting purposes.” No longer is there a separate accounting of the sub-funds’ performance. Hmmm.

Staff went on to say, “General Fund City Sales Tax collections are $48 million which is an increase of $7.3 million or 18% over the same time last year. Approximately $6.0 million of the increase is attributable to the consolidation the sub-funds into the general fund. Without including the sub-fund revenues, city sales tax increased by $1.3 million or 3%.” This 3% figure is in line with the federal GDP.

In terms of General Fund expenditures staff reported, “The actual (General Fund) expenditures increased by $15.4 million over the same time last year. This increase is primarily due to the consolidation of the general fund sub-funds into the General Fund ($9.7 million) and reclassification of Technology and Technology Projects ($5.0 million)…” Once again most of the expenditures are attributable to rolling the sub-funds into the General Fund.

The bottom line is this. Half way through Fiscal Year 2015-16 the General Fund has an excess of $8.3 million. It can be assumed that this excess is due in great measure to the $9.0 million reduction (from the previous figure of $15 million) in the arena management fee paid to IceArizona.

Tonight, February 23, 2016 city council will host its regular voting meeting. Guess who will be AWOL? Yep, Councilmember Sammy Chavira…once again. Be reassured. He will participate telephonically.

Three agenda items are worth following: Item 20 is Resolution 5071. It is an acceptance of a $49,000 grant from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority to be used to help develop an archery range at Heroes Park; Item 21 is acceptance of Ordinance 2975 reflecting rezoning request ZON15-10. This action will allow for development of the Westgate Healthcare Campus PAD at the northwest corner of 99th Avenue and Glendale Avenue. This is a very welcome project and provides a fantastic compliment to Dignity’s Westgate Hospital Campus just north of this proposed project; and lastly Item 22. Council will vote on the adoption of the Loop 101 Scenic Corridor in north Glendale. This is another very welcome development that warrants expansion of this designation all along the Loop 101 within Glendale with the only exception being a narrowly tailored Westgate area.

Stay tuned for more reports on Glendale’s budget as council meets in March and April of 2016.

Don’t forget…it’s budget season in 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.

It has been 17 years and 201 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

A July 8, 2015 article in the Glendale Star by Darrell Jackson highlights “coincidences” between Councilmember Chavira’s actions and decisions as an elected official and campaign contributions he recently received. Here is the link:  http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_85b74584-25a1-11e5-95e3-6f2610f801ba.html .

Before reviewing his recent bout of troubling “coincidences” it’s time for another history lesson. I admit to bias. In 2012 Chavira defeated me in the election for the Yucca district seat. He had a lot of support from the Maricopa County Democratic Party #1049 which donated $10,000 to his campaign. He had former Glendale Councilmember Norma Alvarez as well as that of Danny Valenzuela, a Glendale firefighter currently serving on the Phoenix City Council, to thank for the Dems support. Although I am sure Alvarez regrets her support of Chavira when he broke from her and voted against her positions on issues. As a Phoenix firefighter he received thousands of dollars from firefighter union chapters as well benefitting from their independent expenditures on mailers, flyers, signs and manpower. He also received tremendous support from the Hispanic community and used “dreamers” almost exclusively as his foot soldiers. He outspent me in the order of $5 to $1.

During that election cycle some elements of his questionable past actions became public. Just prior to the 2012 election Sammy and Danny were members of the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters (NAHF). Sammy was removed as a Vice President and both men resigned because they allegedly bore responsibility for loss of funds from an NAHF fund raising event. The event may have made money but not for the NAHF. All it received were the bills.

That specific NAHF event was produced by the Phoenix Monarch Group (PMG): Art Jimenez and Tony Herrera. Herrera, a firefighter, has his own business, One Consulting, and also had a  business relationship with Chavira’s wife (and Chavira). Sammy and Danny advocated for hiring them to run the event. Apparently a lot of “funny stuff” happened with scenes (ala the Mafia) of Sammy apparently riding around in a golf cart with Herrera collecting money from the vendors…money never seen again or accounted for to the NAHF.

The Phoenix Monarch Group’s history has a lot of its own question marks. Prior to IceArizona’s successful acquisition of the Arizona Coyotes PMG appears to have had former Mayor Scruggs and former Councilmember Alvarez as advocates as they attempted to secure a contract to manage Glendale’s arena. All of the relationships mentioned are entangled like a giant ball of snakes. It seems as if Sammy’s previous ethical “coincidences” turned out to be precursors’ of his current ethical “coincidences.”

Sammy received a contribution of $500 on February 2, 2015 from Nicholas Wood.  Wood is also one of IceArizona’s stable of legal counsels. On June 10, 2015 the city council voted 5-2 to cancel the IceArizona management contract for the arena. Sammy just happened to be one of two votes against cancellation. Hmmm…

Then on March 23, 2015 Michael Curley (recently deceased) who represented the Bidwills on many of their projects in Glendale, including Sportsmen’s Park East and West, donated $500 to Chavira. A day later, on March 24, 2015, the city council workshop included a discussion of the infamous, Taj Mahal Westgate parking garage. Chavira seemed to have no problem with sticking the cost of this over priced garage to Glendale taxpayers. Hmmm…

Here’s one to watch. Jacob Long, son of deceased John F. Long, is nearly ready to make application for rezoning of a large parcel of land south of the Grand Canal to Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue. Unless, there are some changes to the zoning plan by Long, neighbors will not be happy and can be expected to protest this one. On February 23, 2015, Long made an yet another contribution to Chavira of $500 bringing his cumulative total to date to $930. Hmmm…

Yet another example of a Chavira’s “coincidence” is recent contributions from firefighter unions. At the April 21, 2015 city council workshop Chavira read a prepared stump speech in support of the Glendale firefighter union request for more funding. A few days later, on April 23, 2015, Phoenix Fire Fighters Local 493 (Fire PAC) gave Sammy $1,000 followed by April 27, 2015, donations of $1,000 from the Peoria chapter and $1,000 from the Tempe chapter. You would think he bears a conflict of interest. Hmmm…

Does it seem that Sammy is ethically challenged? Does it seem to you that his relationships seem questionable? Does it seem that if you have enough money to play he will advocate for you? Does it seem that Sammy is not making decisions in the best interest of Glendale but rather in the best interest of his campaign contributors…Becker billboards…a flip-flop from his campaign platform of denial to approval of the IceArizona contract…no vote on IceArizona contract cancellation…advocacy for more money for firefighters with the use of scare tactics…making the temporary sales tax permanent? Hmmm…

© 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.

On Monday, March 16, 2015 the Glendale city council held a special workshop meeting. The only agenda item was the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRC). There were 4 presenters: Brian Jeffries, President of the Professional Firefighters of Arizona (PFFA); Scott McCarty, representing the Arizona League of Cities and Towns Pension Reform Task Force; Justin Harris, President of the Glendale Law Enforcement Association (GLEA) and Secretary of the Arizona Police Officers Association (APOA); and Julie Pendergast, President of the Glendale Chapter of the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police (Glendale FOP) and Co-Chair of the Glendale Law Enforcement Coalition (GLEA +GFOP).

Mr. Jeffries (PFFA) began with a 35 minute presentation of the history and background of the PSPRC; legal challenges as a result of SB 1609 passed by the Arizona Legislature in 2014; and the state fire union’s call for a constitutional amendment to the state constitution. Mr. Jeffries was articulate and offered a slick presentation. One can appreciate why he is the president of the state fire union.

He acknowledged as their partners in seeking a constitutional amendment several law firms hired by the union; TriAdvocates hired by the union as their communications arm; the Fire Chiefs Union and the Fire Districts Association; and last but not least, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Arizona Police Association and the Arizona Highway Patrol Association.

He did clarify at one point, that while law enforcement had attended fire’s meetings on the issue of pension reform it was there to observe rather than as an active participant.

In essence, Jeffries was asking for council to sign on as a supporter of their constitutional amendment proposal. Their fire referendum’s basic language states, “The benefits of the beneficiaries shall neither be diminished nor impaired except for the provisions on Bill xxxx (sic), as passed by the legislature in 2014.” I don’t pretend to be an expert on SB 1609 and its provisions but it appears as if the fire union really, really wants this bill – to the extent that they want it to be a constitutional amendment. They don’t appear to be interested in true pension reform.

There have been lawsuits filed against SB 1609 and in the Harris case, one provision relating to retiree benefits has been struck down successfully. Another case, the Hall case relating to active personnel benefits, looks like it, too, will be struck down successfully.

Despite those provisions being removed the fire union still wants this bill to remain in perpetuity. Jeffries threw down the gauntlet when he proclaimed that the fire union wanted action now and were prepared to mount a statewide referendum campaign to get it on the ballot this year. We should all be asking, why the rush? Next year, 2016, there will be a presidential election and it could be on the ballot at that time. Instead they are ready to fund it and run it as a full, political operation with TV advertising, direct mail and a statewide grassroots effort – now, right now. The question remains, why?

The next presenter, Scott McCarty represents the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. The league, last June, put together a task force on pension reform. The League is taking a measured approach and is currently preparing a Draft Yardstick of pension reform goals, measurements and outcomes. In May or June of this year, they will compare the fire union’s proposal against their Draft Yardstick and by August, 2015 they will present their proposal for pension reform along with their findings of the fire union proposal to all participating cities at their Annual League Meeting.

Last up were Justin Harris (GLEA) and Julie Pendergast (Glendale FOP). Mr. Harris spoke on behalf of both Glendale police unions. He disputed Jefferies’ assertions that the police were on board by unequivocally stating, “The police union is not working in ‘concert’ with the fire union.” He went on to say, “Currently the police union is at odds with the fire union over an agreeable solution.” He said, “The police union wants a plan that is legitimate, legal and long standing.” If Mr. Jeffries’ statements about police union support for this constitutional amendment were in fact, misstatements, what else in his presentation was a misstatement?

Mayor Weiers made some interesting comments. He explained that at the time SB 1069 was introduced, he was Chair of the House Rules Committee. Upon legal advice he came to the opinion that SB 1069 was unconstitutional and would face legal challenges. Kirk Adams was former House Speaker and fully supported SB 1069. In essence, Mayor Weiers said Adams threatened him with removal of his chairmanship if he did not pass SB 1069 out of committee. Weiers acceded.

Weiers also stated that Mike Colletto of the Professional Fire Fighters Association was opposed to the bill but eventually caved and joined in signing off on it. It just so happens that Kirk Adams is Chief of Staff for newly elected Governor Doug Ducey. So don’t be surprised if the fire union effort eventually receives an endorsement from the Governor’s office.

Mayor Weiers then asked Acting City Manager Dick Bowers if this agenda item was informational or required direction because…he and the rest of council had received an email from…you, guessed it…Councilmember Gary Sherwood…asking that council give direction to place this item on an evening voting meeting agenda so that council could support the fire union’s proposed statewide referendum. Doesn’t Sherwood ever quit?

Councilmember Chavira, a firefighter for Phoenix, just couldn’t stand Mayor Weiers’ characterization of his self proclaimed mentor, Mike Colletto and said, “I never saw Mike Colleto cave on anything.” After thanking Jeffries profusely for his “complete presentation” (he almost said “complex”) he then went on to chide the council by stating the need for “solidarity” between the two unions implying that shamefully the police unions were not standing toe to toe with their brother union.

The most important lesson coming out of this informational presentation is that cooler heads…a majority of them…prevail. Those cooler heads are willing to take the time necessary to come up with public safety pension reform, built on compromise, that will stand up to legal challenge and last over time. The fire union’s proposed constitutional amendment speaks to a hidden agenda…what do you think it is?

© 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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