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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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On September 30, 2016 the Glendale Star reported former mayoral candidate Mark Burdick was fined $619.59 for violating state statute. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_37133b8c-8431-11e6-8aee-c743b27a385d.html .

Glendale City Attorney Michael Bailey shipped the investigation over to Scottsdale City Attorney Bruce Washburn to avoid any conflict of interest.

Every candidate is required to include “paid for by” and the name of the campaign committee on all campaign literature. Burdick violated the law. He sent out a hit piece on Mayor Weiers and failed to include attribution to his committee.

As for the $600+ in fines, can you say unbelievable? Burdick is claiming that the cost of the campaign mailer including postage was $1,239. Washburn says, “You have provided me with an invoice indicating the cost of the mailer was $1,239, which you have informed me is inclusive of postage and all other related costs.”  

Let us assume for a moment that Burdick’s claimed expense of $1200+ was for postage only. At 40 cents per piece in postage (not printing) that accounts for a mailing to 3,075 homes citywide. Glendale has an estimated 90,000 registered voters. A candidate usually sends mailers to high efficacy voters. That would diminish the numbers considerably and probably be approximately a third of the 90,000 registered voters or about 30,000 voters. The cost to mail a campaign piece to 30,000 voters citywide would be about $12,000. This estimated cost does not include the design of the piece or the cost of printing the piece.

Burdick is claiming one tenth of this estimated cost. Ridiculous. The cost of production and mailing one piece of campaign literature to high efficacy voters in the Yucca district in this election was over $1600. I suspect but have no proof, that Burdick’s mailer, to produce and mail citywide, would have cost somewhere between $12,000 and $18,000.

The penalty of the violation can be up to three times the cost of the mailer. Washburn gives Burdick a “get out of jail” card by saying he believed the violation was not done on purpose. In criminal cases, not civil cases, motive and intent matter. Shades of FBI Director Comey refusing to refer Hillary Clinton for prosecution to the Justice Department because he could not determine “intent.” Has intent become the new buzz word to absolve wrong doing?

Burdick’s fine should have been far more substantial, anywhere from $12,000 to $50,000. Instead he received a slap on the wrist by having to pay $600+. I guess there are different standards for different people and lady justice stopped being blind a long time ago.

NOTE: My next blog will be on the most recently filed (due September 29, 2016) campaign finance reports. Sammy Chavira, once again, flaunts the law, by as of this posting, having failed to file his campaign finance report. Then again, the Campaign for Truth and Leadership (fire committee) and Fire Fighters interested in Registration and Education PAC have not filed their campaign finance reports either. Both of these groups sent out campaign mailings in support of Sammy.

© Joyce Clark, 2016        

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Earlier today, March 27, 2015 I made a Public Records Request for information relating to an allegation that Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni may have violated the state’s Conflict of Interest law. Before the close of business today I received the information I had requested. I want to publicly thank Darcie McCracken, Deputy City Clerk, for the excellent and immediate service I received.

The information I received begins with a letter dated February 11, 2014 sent by Frisoni to Michael Bailey, City Attorney and copied to Jim Brown, Director of Human Resources and to then City Manager Brenda Fischer. In her letter she stated that Councilmember Alvarez had been harassing her and creating a hostile work environment for a month. She stated, “This merchant (from Glendale) told our staff today that CM Alvarez told him that I was going to be fired because of my unethical dealings in relation to purchases from a company that my husband works for.” She went on to say, “My understanding is that she (Alvarez) is violating the council code of ethics, as well as the council code of conduct.” She asked for an immediate investigation to remedy the situation and to be advised of the next steps.

Two days later, February 13, 2014 Brenda Fischer sent an email to Frisoni and copied Jim Brown and Michael Bailey. Fischer indicated that after receiving a councilmember complaint she directed Bailey to “research this matter” and based upon Bailey’s review she considered the matter closed. She attached a memo from Bailey with his conclusions. Bailey’s February 13, 2014 memo said, in part, “From his (Shumway) job title, he does not appear to be involved with public sector sales. Based on this cursory review, I did not find any information to indicate that Mr. Shumway was involved with or benefitted from Glendale’s contracts with Insight Public Sector.” He went on to say, “We were not provided nor discovered any evidence suggesting a conflict of interest. Please note that this review was cursory in nature; a more formal review and opinion would require information that isn’t publicly available.”

Fischer’s and Bailey’s conclusions are troubling because of the perceived lack of due diligence by Bailey in investigating the allegation. He said, “On-line information indicates that Mr. Shumway is vice president, information systems-application development at Insight.” He stated, “Based on this cursory review, I did not find any information to indicate that Mr. Shumway was involved with or benefitted from Glendale’s contracts with Insight Public Sector.” As you can see, Bailey appeared to have done on-line research and used that as the basis of his legal opinion. There also seems to be a lot of CYA on Mr. Bailey’s part with words such as “my understanding is” and it “appears.” As any good “jail house attorney” knows, those are wiggle room words. However, a February 20, 2014 letter by Frisoni to Jim Brown and copied to Fischer and Bailey indicated that she was satisfied and stated, “I am satisfied with the current action that has been taken…”

Hold on…not quite so fast…On March 3, 2015, a year later, Councilmember Bart Turner sent an email to Mayor Jerry Weiers, Acting City Manager Dick Bowers, City Attorney Michael Bailey, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and Finance Director Tom Duensing. Prior to voting on the issue of a payment increase in the Insight contract he asked for an explanation of, “it appears that the increase in the contract is significantly higher than the base ($138,000) without any explanation for what we receive for the additional expenditure.” He made clear that he was not accusing Frisoni of any conflict of interest. He then stated, “In reviewing the conflict of interest disclosure file at the City Clerk’s office I notice there is no non-conflict statement on file from Ms. Frisoni as there are for several other city employees who may have a perceived conflict of interest due to family or personal ties to city business.” There is the answer we were seeking. Ms. Frisoni did not file a Conflict of Interest Disclosure about her husband’s company bid on and securitization of a multi-million dollar contract from the city.

Three days later, on March 6, 2015, Frisoni asked for specific statements attesting to her non conflict of interest. Director of Finance, Tom Duensing specifically asked Chuck Murphy, Chief Information Officer if Frisoni improperly influenced the Insight Public Sector bid. Murphy attested to the fact that it did not occur. Duensing did not offer any assurance. Frisoni then sent their emails to the City Clerk’s office.

Apparently Bailey requested a statement from Frisoni. In response on March 11, 2015, she sent an email to Bailey. Her opening stated, “Pursuant to your request, I am providing information regarding my association with Insight…” It appeared that this email was requested by Bailey to tie up loose ends in an effort to counter and to satisfy Councilmember Turner’s observation that Frisoni never signed a Disclosure. As an addendum within Arizona Revised Statues, Chapter 8, Conflict of Interest there is a specific Disclosure form provided. To this day she has not signed one. She should have erred on the side of caution, given her position within the city’s senior management, of signing such a form. It’s a good thing that she didn’t sign one now and backdate it. We all remember a previous backdating by 4 councilmembers, Eggleston, Martinez, Frate and Goulet that resulted in indictments for them and City Clerk Pam Hanna…all of which were dismissed on a technicality.

Frisoni said over and over in her correspondence that she did not influence or interfere with the City’s bid process and that appears to be true. But it doesn’t answer the question of whether or not she gave advice on that specific bid process to her husband to be passed on to Insight’s bid team. That we will never know.

Frisoni, through her actions, probably earns a zero for ethics. Even though it seems apparent that neither she nor her husband immediately benefitted financially from a successful bid, that’s not the point. It’s a matter of doing the right thing even if no one notices or acknowledges it. In a situation offering even the slightest perception of conflict it would have been prudent of her to disclose that her husband works for a company involved in a very lucrative bid with the city. It would not have hurt anything and would have enhanced her ethical standing. Many people are of the opinion that’s just not her style.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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Lately we’ve seen a rash of alleged campaign violations, from the use of a Hope for Hunger (a nonprofit agency) truck to a volunteer with the Glendale Fire Department going door-to-door handing out campaign literature. Complaints have been filed with the city of Glendale and other appropriate agencies.

In response to one of the alleged complaints Jim Brown, Glendale’s Director of Human Resources and Risk Management, on October 23, 2014 said, ““The City employee policy regarding political activities does not prevent an off-duty union member from participating in political activities on behalf of his/her union.”

Apparently he did not get (or did not read) the Memo from City Attorney Michael Bailey dated November 14, 2013. Mr. Bailey cites Glendale City Code, Section 2-75(b). Political activities and contributions from employees that says, “No employee, other than an elected official, shall engage in any political activity in a Glendale municipal election, except to sign a petition for nomination, to cast a vote, or express a private personal opinion.”

Some of the prohibited activities cited by Bailey are, distribution of campaign material or literature for a candidate or an issue involved in a city election and the posting or placing of campaign signs for a candidate or issue in a city election.  He says, “The ordinance (city) also reiterates the state statutory restriction on a city employee influencing other employees or seeking contributions of time or money for a political campaign.” He refers to the United States Supreme Court’s recognition that limitations on political activity serve the public interest of prevention of “a government work force from being employed to build a political machine.”

Nowhere in any of these specific prohibitions is there an exception carved out or an exemption for a local union’s participation in their municipality’s elections. Where is Mr. Brown’s authority to carve out an exemption for a local union member? Upon what legal authority did he base his opinion? We all would be interested in reading the legal opinion that he relies upon.

The Supreme Court, State of Arizona and City of Glendale prohibition from municipal employees participating in their municipal elections is the very reason Valley fire unions have developed a “work around” that has been used for years and years. That is why typically union employees from other cities will contribute money and volunteer to work an election in any city but their own. When the time comes, they, as pay back, will contribute to and work an election in a city from which they received previous help.

There is another and far more serious issue that is finally beginning to surface and that is the Glendale fire union’s political machine. For far too long members of Glendale’s senior management have been aware of the fire union’s political machine. For far too long they have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the Glendale fire union’s political activities and its inclination to skirt the edge of campaign law. Even Glendale’s Fire Chief Burdick does not have the muscle (or will) to control the demands and dictates of Glendale’s fire union.

Do not expect anything to change. After all, City Manager Brenda Fischer’s husband was (any may still be) a fire fighter in Henderson, Nevada. Other city employees have relatives who are Glendale fire fighters. It is any wonder that they would be sympathetic to the fire union and its objectives? If it takes political influence to achieve those objectives those who have the power to rein in fire’s political machine appear to have no will or desire 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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