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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On May 18, 2017 as a Council Item of Special Interest the Glendale City Council approved my request for a temporary council subcommittee on business. Its purpose is to review all codes, ordinances, regulations, policies, etc., associated with businesses in Glendale. This initiative has never been accomplished since the city’s inception in 1912. Over the years there are sure to be outdated and redundant regulations that can be eliminated. It’s an opportunity for the business community to tell Glendale what it’s doing right and where there can be improvement.

The article below by Cecila Chan for Your West Valley News of May 1, 2017, sums it up very nicely:

Glendale to establish subcommittee to help businesses

May 1, 2017 Business

Cecilia Chan Independent Newsmedia

“Glendale wants to improve its climate to keep and grow the business community in the city.

City Council last week in study session agreed to move forward with the creation of a temporary subcommittee and to solicit feedback from the business community. Mayor Jerry Weiers was absent. The item is expected to come before Council at its next voting meeting.

” ‘This sends a positive message to all business large and small in Glendale that we are interested in them and what they do,’ said Councilwoman Joyce Clark, who came up with the idea. ‘It sends a positive message to businesses thinking about moving here that we are serious about improving the business climate. I’m not saying it’s bad but it can be made better.’

“The one-year subcommittee will be made up of three council members and representatives from the business community who will review the city’s codes and make recommendations to the Council.

“Ms. Clark said during her time on the Council off and on since 1992, there has never been a review of the city’s policies, regulations or laws pertaining to businesses in Glendale.

“The subcommittee will remove outdated, ineffective and redundant business regulations on the city’s books, she added.

“The committee will look at everything the city does relating to business and see where it can become more business-friendly and enhance its reputation as the premier business community in the Valley, Ms. Clark said.

“Development Services Director Sam McAllen said the subcommittee would take an average of two to three hours a week of staff time. For the duration of the committee, it is estimated to take 1,040 hours to 1,560 hours of staff time, he added.

“Councilman Ray Malnar suggested increasing the seven- member committee to include a contractor or builder because that profession, which creates job opportunities in Glendale, is affected by city fees and policies.

“Councilman Jamie Aldama suggested adding two representatives, one from the minority business community and one from a woman-owned business.

“Councilman Bart Turner said the idea of a subcommittee is a worthy endeavor, however, it is a step too soon.

“He cited the large use of staff hours, a city resource.

“Instead, he suggested the city find out what the issues and/or frustrations are for businesses in Glendale by getting it from the members of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, soliciting input at city hall’s second-floor service counter and establishing a hotline for merchants.

“Try that for a year and then see if the committee is still needed, Councilman Turner said.

“Councilman Aldama asked what the staff hours equated to in money.

“Mr. Allen said staff only went as far as to identify which departments would be involved in the committee. Departments involved include Building Safety, Fire Marshal, Planning, Economic Development and City Attorney.

Councilman Aldama noted despite the cost of creating the committee, its recommendations would generate more revenue for Glendale.

Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff suggested the council move forward on both proposals.

” ‘I have no problem doing both at the same time,’ she said.

“The council also agreed to expand the subcommittee to 11 to 13 members, taking in Councilmen Aldama’s and Malnar’s suggestions.

Staff estimated the new subcommittee could be up and running within three to four months upon approval.”

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

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It has been 18 years and 121 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Chavira volunteer

Chavira volunteer’s vehicle

Before we delve into the classification and compensation study, I just had to share this. A voter who had signed my nominating petition emailed me with this photo. To say the voter was perturbed would be an understatement. The voter observed a woman parking her vehicle. See it parked on the sidewalk? It turns out that the vehicle belonged to a young woman who was trying to obtain petition signatures for Sammy Chavira and Mark Burdick in a neighborhood I had already canvassed.  Apparently she did not know the law or chose to ignore the law. No matter. It seems to be the perfect symbol of the opposition who apparently think that laws are not meant to be obeyed. Talk about making a positive PR statement for your candidate…not!

On April 12, 2016 the third agenda item was an employee classification and compensation study performed by the consultant, Segal Waters. The presenters were Jim Brown, Human Resources Director and Andrew Knutson of Segal Waters. I cannot provide an easy link to the study because the file is too large and this blog site cannot accommodate it. However you can always go to www.glendaleaz.com, then click on the City Clerk link on the left side of the page. Once you get there at the top there is a link to Council Minutes and Agendas. Click on that and a page of dates will appear. Scroll down to 4/12/16, city council workshop. Then click on the Agenda for that meeting. The third item on the agenda is the study.

For this study Segal Waters used 11 Valley cities with Chandler and Gilbert being closest in population and the number of employees to Glendale. The consultant also used 3 private sector studies in arriving at its conclusions. The study focused on non-represented employees, those employees that are not primarily in the police and fire departments.

Mr. Brown began by stating that the city has no Compensation Philosophy. He did not indicate which of the cities used in the study had such a philosophy. Mr. Brown recommended that council adopt such a philosophy. If it contains specific annual increases to be met I would be reluctant to adopt it.

In the study’s Executive Summary it states, “Based on overall market data including custom survey peer employers and published data representative of the private sector, the City of Glendale’s pay structure is consistent with the market average at the minimum and midpoint, but falls below the custom survey and overall market average at the pay range maximum, as shown below.

“We define market competitiveness as being between 95% and 105% of the market average at the minimum, midpoint, and maximum. Market comparisons that fall within this competitive corridor are noted in black, below 95% are noted in red, and above 105% are notes in blue.”

In plain English, the study recommends giving employees who are at the maximum range of their pay scale an increase. In other words those non-represented employees who are at the top of their pay range should get more money. By the way, there are indeed employees who fall in the 105% category.

If this classification and compensation study is accepted in full it will affect 400 of the city’s 1,000 plus non-represented employees at a total cost of $3.1 million dollars initially. The study did not reflect the annual increase to the General Fund should this study be implemented.

The justification used to support the results were the turnover rates of non-represented employees:

  • In Fiscal Year 2013 the turnover rate was 20.2% or 182 employees
  • In Fiscal Year 2014 the turnover rate was 18.8% or 186 employees
  • In Fiscal Year 2015 the turnover rate was 14.5% or 158 employees

One question unasked by councilmembers was how did Glendale’s turnover rate during these Fiscal Years compare to other Valley cities? The justification for the study’s recommendation seemed to rely upon an implication staff made that the turnover rate was due to employees taking higher paying positions with other Valley cities. However, people leave their jobs for all kinds of reasons. How many of these employees simply retired? How many became ill and could no longer work? What about those employees who left their jobs only to be reemployed by the city as contract employees? That happens all the time. Employees leave their jobs for all kinds of reasons, not exclusively to take another municipal job at higher pay.

Councilmember Turner asked Mr. Brown if the city conducted employee exit interviews. Mr. Brown said that the city does. When asked for data about those interviews Mr. Brown had nothing to offer.

Councilmember Turner also asked a question about whether all departments were right-sized. Again, Mr. Brown, Director of Human Resources, could provide no information and punted to the individual departments for reliance as to whether each is right sized. Why has Human Resources never recommended a study to verify the right-sizing of all city departments? Why is staff so reluctant to accept the concept of zero-based budgeting, a mechanism that would produce an answer as to whether departments are right-sized?

It is understandable that Mr. Brown as Human Resources Director and Mr. Phelps as City Manager would urge the council to accept this study. That is part of their advocacy – to represent the employees and seek to gain pay raises for them.

Council has the right to have its questions answered in full. Until that occurs it should not be so hasty to accept the study’s recommendation.

© 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 94 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On March 19, 2016, Paul Giblin’s article is entitled Glendale expenses get more scrutiny. It is not online as of this date so no link to the story is provided. In his article Giblin solicits reaction to Chavira’s questionable travel expenses from his peers…the Glendale city councilmembers. Giblin reports, “Sammy Chavira’s colleagues on the Glendale City Council said this week they want to strengthen the city’s travel policy following reporting by the Arizona Republic on Chavira’s travel expenses.”

Mayor Weiers said, “‘We’re going to have to do something. Weiers said one option to tighten the travel policy would be to require councilmembers to use personal credit cards, rather than city-issued cards, for all city-related travel. If you want to be reimbursed, then you have to provide us with all the information – who, what, when, why, where. If you don’t provide that, then you’re not going to get reimbursed,’ he said.”

A majority of councilmembers have said this is a future public city council workshop topic of discussion. Silent on the issue were Councilmember Chavira and Councilmember Aldama. “Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and City Council members Lauren Tolmachoff and Bart Turner told The Republic they expect a formal discussion at a public meeting about improving the city’s travel policy for elected officials.”

The reactions from various councilmembers are varied. “Hugh said he is opposed to granting council members authority to approve or disapprove of each other’s trips.” Frankly I agree with his assessment. In towns and cities there are councilmembers who don’t like each other, don’t get along with each other and may downright hate each other. In most cases, the public is never aware of councilmembers’ animosity toward one another because publicly they remain polite to one another. Political animosity (or even revenge) would be a constant threat if councilmembers’ had the power to approve or disapprove of one another’s expenses.

“‘Council members should be held to at least the same standard as rank-and-file city employees,’ Tolmachoff said.” Councilmember Tolmachoff almost got it. Councilmembers should not be held to the same standards as other city employees. They should be held to the highest standard. They should be a model for all employees to follow. Councilmembers are in a unique position. There are only 7 of them elected by the people of Glendale. There is no comparable position in Glendale. That makes them unique. Their major responsibility is to develop all policy for the city. It is an enormous task requiring their best efforts and a commitment to impartiality. It is their responsibility to strive to be above reproach at all times and in all instances.

Councilmember Ray Malnar thinks that a periodic audit of councilmembers’ use of their expense accounts is in order. “Periodic audits of council members’ expenses would help keep members attuned to existing guidelines, Malnar said. ‘There’s always the ability, no matter what kind of controls you have in place, for abuse. And a lot of it is a matter of trust and follow-up.’ he said.” It is a solid suggestion. It bears serious consideration and has the appeal of having a councilmember’s expenses related to his or her budgets scrutinized on a regular basis.

Councilmember Turner, surprisingly, offered very little concern about councilmembers’ travel expenses and instead focused on lost receipts. “Turner said he’s interested in reviewing the city’s policy for lost receipts and perhaps capping the amount allowable for reimbursement using lost-receipt forms.There’s no transparency around a lost receipt, and I think we owe it to our taxpayers to be as transparent as possible,’ Turner said.”

From the councilmembers’ comments two viable themes emerged. Councilmember Malnar suggested audits. If such audits are not publicly posted prominently and instead are buried in the bowels of city hall paperwork, what good is an audit? Councilmember Turner made reference to transparency. However, currently there is no transparency related to any expense incurred by a councilmember. Why tailor transparency narrowly to a lost-receipt? It’s illogical. Transparency only serves the public interest when it brings to light a practice formerly buried and generalized in the city’s annual budget book.

Perhaps audits and transparency should be used in tandem. City councilmembers should consider revising their policy to include an annual audit performed by Glendale’s Audit Office of both their communications/professional development budget and their infrastructure improvements budget to be completed by October 1 of every year. I can hear the City Auditor now saying that it is an onerous burden upon her department. It is not unreasonable. Each councilmember’s two budgets total approximately $35,000 a year. They are simplistic and not as complicated as one would find in auditing an entire city department comprised of millions of dollars. They could be completed quickly and would not require an inordinate amount of audit staff’s time.

These audits should be posted in each councilmember’s Friday e-newsletter no later than the end of each October. If a councilmember had to publicly announce what expenditures he or she made during the course of a year it would constantly reinforce the concept that each and every dollar is a taxpayer dollar and not “theirs.” This is a reasonable policy. It would create an unmatched level of transparency for Glendale’s citizens. Glendale would be the first city in the state to adopt such a model and it is expected it would cause other cities to follow suit. It would have the effect of helping the public to determine if a councilmember was making effective and ethical use of their taxpayer dollars. It would certainly be a breath of political fresh air.

In the meantime, Giblin reported, “While Glendale officials talked about Chavira’s expenditures, Phoenix officials acted on them. Phoenix officials submitted five checks to Glendale on March 9 to reimburse the city for their portions of the seafood dinner, said Glendale spokeswoman Sue Breding.” Obviously these Phoenix officials, such as the Phoenix Fire Chief, by reimbursing the city, are tacitly acknowledging that Chavira’s payment for their dinners was inappropriate. That cannot be good for Chavira who keeps repeating that he did nothing wrong. Perhaps he’s hoping if he repeats it often enough people will believe him…Hmmm, I think not. I wonder if former Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick or Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela (who happens to be a Glendale fire fighter) reimbursed Glendale. There’s no way to know as that information is not forthcoming.

Come on, Glendale councilmembers, think outside the box. Develop a policy that sheds light on the issue for all of Glendale’s taxpayers. After all, it’s not about you. It’s about the citizens and city that you are elected to serve.

© 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.

Foothills Library Update: All three commissions, Arts, Library and Parks & Recreation, having met this week have voted to disapprove the proposal to sell the Foothills Library. Their recommendations will be presented to the city council at the March 3, 2015 workshop.

It seems Councilmember Gary Sherwood requested formal meetings by going through the council office to set up appointments with Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff and Councilmember Bart Turner. The upshot of each meeting was that Sherwood advised each of them that he would be monitoring their performance and would, at some future date, critique them. How’s that for chutzpah? Coming from a councilmember with two years of experience, under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office for alleged Open Meeting Law violations and now facing recall from office. From all accounts he did not meet in a “mentoring mode” but rather to put them on notice that he would be watching them. Are you astounded? I have never heard of such behavior. I expect each of them advised him to not let the door hit him on his way out.

Sherwood also announced at his district meeting held on February 26, 2015 that he would be meeting with Kathleen Goeppinger, head of Midwestern University to explore the idea of allowing Midwestern to build an addition to Foothills Library for Midwestern’s use. He couldn’t be offering this idea to gain support from Goeppinger for Becker billboards (or perhaps hit her up for a campaign donation to his recall campaign), could he? At the last billboard go-around Goeppinger was on record as being opposed. Sherwood’s habit and pattern seems to be to insert himself into situations, in an attempt to broker deals. Isn’t that an administrative function best left to Glendale staff? Aren’t his actions in trying to broker the arena management agreement enough of a warning that perhaps he shouldn’t participate in such activities? Mayor Weiers, representing all of Glendale or Cholla district Councilmember Tolmachoff where the library is located should be none too happy about Sherwood’s insertion of himself into the situation.

Councilmember Bart Turner had a turnout of about 100 people at his district meeting. Councilmember Sherwood had about 30 people. Some of the Sherwood attendees questioned his position on issues, commented on his non-responsiveness to his constituents’ concerns and infrequency of his district meetings (last one was about a year ago). Perhaps before Sherwood tells other councilmembers how to do their job, he should clean up his own act.

© 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.

Before reviewing the Glendale City Council meeting of January 13, 2015 I wanted to share some information related to the events about to occur in Glendale. With the Direct TV Music Festival, the ProBowl and the Super Bowl fast approaching those residents who live in close proximity to the site of these events may have the need for further information about them or may need to lodge a complaint while the events are occurring.  Below are the Glendale numbers for your reference:

DirecTV Super Fan Festival Hotline

A special hotline has been established for the DirecTV Super Fan Festival.  The hotline number is 602-532-6250.

Neighborhood Protection (barricades)

The Neighborhood protection program is being enacted for the DirecTV Super Fan Festival, Fiesta Bowl, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl.

Electronic Link to Glendale’s Got Game Webpage

The information listed above and specific links are available through the City’s Glendale’s Got Game webpage: http://www.visitglendale.com/ZoneA/index.html

The January 13, 2015 Glendale city council meeting was typical of many council meetings. A proclamation recognizing Dr. Martin F. King Day and then an item packed Consent Agenda. The only interesting segment of the meeting was the choice of a Vice Mayor for this year.

Councilmember Bart Turner nominated and Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff seconded the nomination of Councilmember Ian Hugh. A second nomination of Councilmember Gary Sherwood was offered by Councilmember Sammy Chavira and seconded by Councilmember Jamie Aldama. No surprises there. That left Mayor Weiers as the deciding vote. It was well played by Mayor Weiers. The Mayor offered Councilmember Hugh for a vote first, as it should have been, since Hugh’s nomination was offered first.

Votes were cast on the newest toy, the nearly $50,000 voting system and flashed on the large screen behind them. There were four votes (a majority) in favor of Hugh’s nomination: Mayor Weiers, Councilmembers Hugh, Turner and Tolmachoff. Since Councilmember Hugh’s nomination captured the majority of council votes there was no need to vote on the nomination of Councilmember Sherwood. Congratulations go to the newly elected Vice Mayor of Glendale, Ian Hugh.

We have seen the first vote of the new council majority of Weiers, Hugh, Turner and Tolmachoff. We’ll see how well Councilmember Sherwood plays in the sandbox now that his coalition is no longer in the majority.

A word that seems to aptly describe both Councilmembers Chavira’s and Aldama’s usual commentary during the course of council workshops and meetings is saccharin. According to Webster’s Dictionary saccharin is defined as “sweet or sentimental in a way that does not seem sincere or genuine.” If ever two people fit that bill it appears to be these two. Their greatest claim to fame is certainly not the offering of insightful comment but rather a litany of thank yous to everyone they can possibly think of. Perhaps the voters of their districts will thank them profusely as they wander out the door of Glendale politics.

© 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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