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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Confirmed from several sources: City Manager Brenda Fischer has resigned, effective on a date mutally agreed upon by her and the Glendale City Council. In part, her resignation letter stated, I feel I have “accomplished all of my goals at this time.”

More to follow in upcoming blog.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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It appears Glendale City Manager Brenda Fischer has a vicious temper. Rumors have circulated since she came on board in Glendale but employees have been reluctant to go on record and to share specific incidents. All have been within City Hall – until last week.

A little background first. Robert Heidt is the Glendale Chamber’s new President and CEO. He had been approached by a Chamber member, John and Alice Roach, owners of the White Eyes Fresh Fry Bread Company. The Roachs are Glendale residents. Apparently they have applied for entry to numerous Glendale events only to be turned down repeatedly. Mr. Heidt had been dealing with Glendale’s Communications Department (which runs all City events) for several months in order to obtain clarification on vendor policy and to advocate for the Roachs’ participation.

Darrell Jackson of the Glendale Star has an article about a confrontation Glendale City Manager Brenda Fischer recently and publicly had with Mr. Heidt. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_314b5612-a265-11e4-b241-87a6efc2a085.html . Last week Mr. Heidt was having a pleasant working lunch at the Yard House at Westgate. Ms. Fischer was also there, a few tables away, having lunch with several Glendale employees. At some point Ms. Fischer approached Mr. Heidt’s table and proceeded to publicly berate him over the White Eyes Fresh Fry Bread Company complaint. She was loud enough to be overheard by patrons necessitating a Yard House Assistant Manager’s request “to take it outside.”

Fischer, when asked by Jackson, about the incident conveyed that she was defending “employee integrity and professionalism” which, she believed, had a “negative effect on employees’ morale.” Between you and I, that is so much BS.

If Fischer were really concerned about employee morale she wouldn’t, among other things: 1. Have her reputed, infamous temper tantrums at any time, in City Hall or outside of City Hall; 2. She wouldn’t allow City Manager staff, including herself, and City Attorneys to not be physically present at City Hall on Fridays. They are available by phone and email. I believe that’s called telecommuting. Isn’t that what the previous City Manager Ed Beasley allowed Human Resources Director Alma Carmichle to do? From Mississippi? Wasn’t that a ‘no-no’? No matter the location…it does affect employee morale; 3. She wouldn’t have appointed Julie Frisoni to an Assistant City Manager’s position when Frisoni did not meet the qualifications needed; 4. She would insure that all staff information is distributed to the entire council and not a selected few supporting a staff position and 5. She would resume hosting Quarterly City Staff meetings. Apparently since her hiring she has had one, just one, such meeting with the entire staff.

Mr. Heidt had obvious concerns as a result of that confrontation and sent an email to the Mayor and City Councilmembers, summarizing the incident. As a result, the council will have a special executive session meeting on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 3 PM to discuss Fischer’s confrontation with Mr. Heidt. Expect Councilmember Gary Sherwood (and his two clones, Councilmembers Chavira and Aldama) to defend Fischer’s actions. Councilmember Sherwood not only actively advocated for Fischer’s appointment but personally met with her prior to council’s decision. His exclusive meeting with a potential candidate still under consideration may not have been unlawful but the ethics are questionable. With three newbie councilmembers there will not be much in the way of historical memory with knowledge of other, past Fischer tantrums.

Whatever the results, you and I will never know them as executive session discussions and direction must remain private. The most we can hope for is some kind of reprimand inserted into her personnel file. The best outcome would be for a majority of council to call for her resignation but that is wishful thinking.

Since retiring from city council I have had the opportunity to talk to countless city employees, from a wide variety of departments, at different levels of authority within the organization. None are within Fischer’s “inner circle.” To a person they have conveyed that employee morale is worse than at the height of former City Manager Ed Beasley’s tenure. As they often put it, “It’s the same, only worse.” While Ms. Fischer may have put out some financial fires she has most certainly stoked the fire of the lowest employee morale in recent history.

© 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.

 

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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