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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 July 5, 2018 the Glendale Chamber of Commerce announced its endorsements for the three city council seats to be voted upon in Glendale’s next election. The endorsements were for all three incumbents: Vice Mayor Tolmachoff from the Cholla district; Councilmember Bart Turner of the Barrel district; and Councilmember Jamie Aldama of the Ocotillo district. All candidates were interviewed and their written responses reviewed by the Chamber’s Public Policy Council. Those recommendations were then forwarded to the Board of Directors for approval. Here are the members of the Glendale Chamber’s Public Policy Council:

  • Bill Toops, Glendale Star, Chairperson (also serves on Board of Directors)
  • Steve Adams, AlphaGraphics, (also serves on Board of Directors)
  • Rachel Aja, Cox Communications
  • Kathi Beranek, Blue Cross Blue Shield (company also represented on Board of Directors)
  • Judy Butler, Butler Creative & Consulting
  • Ron Castro, BNC National Bank, (company also represented on Board of Directors)
  • Michael Cavaiola, Redflex Traffic Solutions
  • Stephanie Colbert, Chance Mikos Farmer’s Insurance
  • Donna Davis, Expect More Arizona
  • Patricia DiRoss, Salt River Project, (company also represented on Board of Directors)
  • Yvonne Knaack, State Farm Insurance
  • Matt Ligouri, Southwest Gas
  • Bobbi Magdaleno, Arizona State University, (also serves on Board of Directors)
  • Dave Mitchell, Ideal Insurance Agency
  • Liz Recchia, WeMar
  • Brent Stoddard, Director of Public Affairs, City of Glendale
  • Lyndia Vescio, Vescio Law Firm, (also serves on Board of Directors)
  • Robert Heidt, CEO Glendale Chamber of Commerce, (also serves on Board of Directors)

Here are the members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors;

  • Maria Brunner, Chair of the Board, OneAZ Credit Union
  • Lily DeBileux, Chair-Elect, Pendergast Elementary School District
  • Steve Adams, Treasurer, Alphgraphics
  • Scott Spillman, Vice Treasurer, BNC National Bank
  • Jean Higginbotham, Past Chair, Blue Cross Blue Shield,
  • Robert Heidt, CEO, Glendale Chamber
  • Victoria Coley, Humana
  • Ariana Deerman, Wells Fargo Bank
  • Stephanie Klingener, VitalFit Training
  • Kate Kochenderfer, Salt River Project
  • Wayne Lawson, Signarama on 51st Avenue
  • Patrick McDermott, Arizona Public Service
  • Bobbi Magdaleno, Arizona State University
  • Kevin Phelps, City Manager, City of Glendale
  • Mary Pritchard, Pritchard Insurance Group
  • Richard Sherry, Dignity Health Arizona
  • Bill Toops, Glendale Star
  • Jeffrey Turney, Military & Veterans Affairs
  • Lynda Vescio, Vescio Law Firm
  • Judy Walter, Dignity Memorial
  • Mayor Jerry Weiers, City of Glendale

Of the 18 members of the Public Policy Council, 8 members (44%) also serve on the Board of Directors or have another person from their company serving on the Board of Directors. Once the Public Policy Council has made a recommendation for endorsement it is very probable that the Board of Directors will ratify the recommendations. After the 8 members have made a decision those same 8 companies can ratify the recommendations made to the Board of Directors needing only one more person to constitute a majority of the Board.

It is also worth noting that seven (38%) of the 18 members of the Public Policy Council members represent large companies (Cox Communications, Blue Cross Blue Shield, BNC National Bank, Redflex Traffic Solutions, Salt River Project, Southwest Gas, Arizona State University). All have a Valley-wide presence. Should Valley-wide, major companies be empowered to make recommendations about local candidates for office?

What criteria were used to make their recommendations for endorsement?

  • “Candidates were selected who have distinguished themselves as knowledgeable and supportive (emphasis mine) of issues positively affecting the business community in the city of Glendale.”
  • Bill Toops, Chair of the Chamber’s Public Policy Council said, “The Glendale Chamber Board of Directors is pleased to endorse candidates who have demonstrated accessibility and collaboration (emphasis mine) in support of promoting interests most important to our local businesses.”
  • Robert Heidt, the Chamber’s CEO, said, “Throughout this process we heard from those running for office and have endorsed candidates who has the clearest understanding of the challenges facing the business community and those whose policies align with our initiatives (emphasis mine) to foster a pro-business environment focused on the creation of quality jobs, along with business retention and expansion.”

These criteria seem to favor incumbents. Their positions as elected officials provide many opportunities to “distinguish themselves as knowledgeable and supportive,” to have “demonstrated accessibility and collaboration,” and to have advocated for “policies that align” with the Chamber’s initiatives.

Incumbents have the decided advantage as they have the opportunity to interact with the Chamber in a variety of ways in their official capacities as well as the opportunity to approve/disapprove actions that benefit the Chamber’s interests. It’s not a level playing field. Often those running in opposition to the incumbents have no experience or knowledge of specific city initiatives or actions, especially any that could benefit the Chamber. It’s not their fault. They haven’t been playing ‘inside baseball’ for the previous four years (term of an incumbent). They simply do not have any experience serving as an elected and therefore are at a disadvantage. It takes any newly elected official time to learn how the city works, to become familiar with its policy positions and to establish relationships with various stakeholder groups within the city.

Perhaps the better criterion to be used would not to be rely upon experience (that is weighted always toward the incumbent) but rather to review candidates’ positions on the issues and which policies would be supported. If two candidates for the same office shared the same views perhaps using incumbency to tip the scales should not be the option for recommendation. Perhaps in some cases there should be no recommendation or a recommendation to support either candidate.

I remain troubled with the process used by the Chamber to select endorsements in a local campaign. It will be another two years before the Chamber issues its next set of endorsements for local office. That time might be well spent in developing a process that recognizes an incumbent’s advantage and levels the playing field for those who have never held office.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

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.

There are two “Breakthru/Through” entities co-existing in Glendale and one is certainly not like the other. The only similarity they share is that both are religious ministries with very similar names. It makes for a fascinating political dynamic in Glendale’s current election cycle.

One entity is called “Breakthru Ministries.” In its last hosting of an event in the city’s downtown Murphy Park it bore the responsibility for the trashing of one of the computer rooms in Glendale’s City Hall resulting in over $50,000 worth of damage. Apparently, a group of youth attendees of the event gained access to enter city hall from “Breakthru Ministries” representatives. There appeared to be no adult supervision of these youth resulting in the damage. It is my understanding that eventually the insurance carrier that the city required “Breakthru Ministries” to have for the event paid the claim.

 “Breakthru Ministries” also hosts religious services every Sunday morning at the Glendale Youth Center in the Barrio. It is my understanding that they pay no rent for the use of this city facility for their Sunday church services. That is a violation of federal laws regarding the separation of church and state. A non-profit, including churches, may rent government facilities but a governmental entity may not sponsor church activities by allowing the use of a facility for free. It is my understanding that such is the case with “Breakthru Ministries.”

“Breakthru Ministries” has an ally in Councilmember Jamie Aldama. Aldama and disgraced former Councilmember Sammy Chavira each donated from their council budgets to sponsor the event cited above that occurred in Murphy Park resulting in $50,000+ worth of damage. It appears that Councilmember Aldama continues to support this organization. On his Facebook Reelection page Aldama publicizes and endorses a recent “Breakthru Ministries” event. It was held on February 25, 2018 at the Glendale Youth Center, 5401 W. Ocotillo Road. Did the organization pay the city to use this space for their event in a city facility? Does the organization pay rent to use the Youth Center for its Sunday church services? Did Councilmember Aldama financially support this event by making a contribution from his council budget (your money, your tax dollars at work) to support this event?

Aldama is up for reelection for the Ocotillo district council seat this year and it looks like he needs all the friends he can get including dubious ones such as “Breakthru Ministries.”

Now, the other “Breakthru/Through” is an entirely different entity. It is called “Breakthrough Life Church.” It was founded by Emmanuel Allen and his wife, Belinda.  They also founded the “Roots Recreational and Learning Center, Inc.”  Allen’s “Roots” program is located at the city’s O’Neil Park Recreation Center and coincidentally, he also hosts church services at the Glendale Youth Center.

The “Roots” program at O’Neil Park was a successful bid selected by the city to provide programming for children living in a low-socio demographic area of Glendale. It appears to be highly successful and the O’Neil Recreation Center, a city facility, is always packed with children after school. The feedback from area residents is that the kids love the activities available at the center and Emmanuel Allen who is there every day.

One glaring difference between the two “Break Throughs” is that “Breakthrough Life Church” does indeed pay rent to the city to use the Youth Center for its religious services. Another, more subtle difference, is that “Breakthru Ministries” seems to feed off the community while “Breakthrough Life” seems to feed the community. While subtle, it is important to note.

What makes these two entities so intriguing is the political dynamic associated with each. Emmanuel Allen happens to be Jamie Aldama’s opponent in this year’s Ocotillo council district election. What is interesting to note is two days after a recent City Council Executive Session, Aldama’s campaign manager, Chuck Foy, filed a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) for all correspondence between any city personnel and Emmanuel Allen. Did Aldama commit an Open Meeting Law violation by sharing information he learned during the Executive Session with his campaign manager Chuck Foy? Why the FOIA? Aldama, through his surrogate campaign manager, appears to be mining for any possible political dirt.  

As you can see, in this case, one thing is not like the other. The same can be said of the two candidates for the Ocotillo district council seat…one is not like the other.

Welcome to Glendale’s political season.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

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