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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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It has been 17 years and 182 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Is the current recall effort by Glendale First! justified? It depends. If you are an avid hockey fan it is. Glendale First! is sponsoring two recently formed political committees, Recall Bart Turner and Recall Lauren Tolmachoff. The Recall Lauren Tolmachoff Committee is being led by Bill and Jennifer Eikost, Cholla district residents. I know them personally. They are friends and remain as friends even though I vehemently disagree with their current action. The Recall Bart Turner Committee is being led by Ben Shroyer and Paul Miller, Barrell district residents. All of these folks are not only hockey fans but some of them are season ticket holders. There is nothing wrong with that. However their current actions need to be viewed in the context of keeping hockey in Glendale’s arena by any manner and at any cost.

Glendale First! has had little success so far seeking individuals from the Cactus and Ocotillo districts to form political committees to recall Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and Councilmember Aldama as well. These districts tend to have lower socio-economic demographics and Glendale service cuts are viewed as being caused by the expense of the hockey lease contract.

This avid hockey fan group is angry with a city council that voted 5-2 to cancel a contract that requires payment of $15M annually as part of a lease management agreement for Glendale’s arena with IceArizona. But mounting a recall because they are mad about the contract cancellation won’t get them very far in Glendale as a majority of Glendale’s residents support the action. Strategically they needed another reason for the recall. What better diversion than to conveniently claim mismanagement of Glendale’s revenues by the mayor and only the 4 councilmembers that voted to cancel the contract.

So what exactly is the basis for Glendale First’s! allegation of council fiscal mismanagement? We have to go back a bit. The state legislature passed SB 1609 which made substantial changes to the Public Safety Public Retirement System (PSPRS) as it went into effect in June of 2011. Subsequently SB 1609 was challenged in Superior Court with a ruling in January of 2015 rolling back specific provisions within SB1609. The result is that Glendale (as well as all other participating cities) can expect additional expense per year to the PSPRC of an estimated $4 million (amount varies by city) and it takes effect in Fiscal Year 2016-17.

There were two options available to the city to deal with the increased expense to the PSPRS. thNM5RBIVGOne option was to pay as little as possible into the fund initially but it would require higher contributions in future years. The other option was to bite the bullet, add an additional $3.5 million as Glendale’s payment in Fiscal Year 2015-16. This would allow Glendale to increase its fund status (put more money in its PSPRC bank) and result in lower annual contributions in future years. Council’s policy decision was to choose the option of putting $3.5 million into the fund now. It was a prudent decision. It resulted in $3.5 million of General Fund dollars going to shore up Glendale’s PSPRC account.

Glendale First!, aided and abetted by the Glendale fire union, then accused the city council of mismanagement by not using that $3.5M of General Fund revenues for public safety. Apparently they don’t care about the city’s bond ratings and the fact that the bond agencies base part of their ratings on the cushion (contingency) a city has in reserve.

The fire union was not happy with the council’s decision for it wanted the $3.5 million dollars allocated to the fire department now. Hence we saw the media stories planted by the fire union claiming that its response times were alarming and a threat to public safety equal to that of a nuclear bomb. Keep in mind fire response times according to newly retired Fire Chief Burdick have remained at the same level over the past 5 years. The unacknowledged part of Glendale fire’s problem is that it is responding to more uncompensated calls outside of the city than ever before due to automatic aid. Therefore the closer Glendale fire units are not available partly resulting in extended response times. ( See earlier Automatic Aid, Parts 1-3 blogs)

The fire union and Glendale First! seem to have joined forces once again. They have a history of having worked together on previous Glendale issues. They worked together to insure the passage and retention of the temporary sales tax (now permanent).

This is from a former edition of the Glendale First! website: “Glendale First! is a grassroots citizen action group that was originally formed in 2012 as a political action committee in opposition to a referendum (R-12-01) that would have resulted in the Phoenix Coyotes leaving Glendale.” It went on to say, “Now that a long term arena management agreement is in place and the future of Westgate and the Coyotes is assured, it’s time to expand our efforts in Glendale. One can clearly see that Glendale First’s! agenda is in keeping the Coyotes in Glendale.

The concerted efforts of Glendale First! were instrumental in defeating three referendums aimed at disallowing arena management use agreements between the City of Glendale and various parties. We were also deeply involved in opposition of the Proposition 457 ballot measure.”

The agenda of keeping hockey in Glendale cost money. It appears that Bea Wyatt and her partner, George Fallar, expended as much as $11,000 of their personal funds, over time, to keep hockey in Glendale.

Despite those who are on the paperwork for each recall committee the two most visible spokespersons for this effort have been Bea Wyatt and Larry Feiner. Both are principals in thethN2BQ31YA Glendale First! organization and in the Desert Hockey Development organization. Both have been quoted in the media and have participated in radio interviews. They are now public figures and as public figures if there are skeletons in either person’s closet they are sure to be discovered as in the case of Larry Feiner.

Mismanagement of Glendale’s money? I’m sure Mr. Feiner has heard the old adage, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Because when it comes to mismanagement of money I’m not certain he is a position to throw stones. Mr. Feiner’s financial track record isn’t one that any person or institution should emulate.

I received an email recently advising me to go to this site. To my surprise this is what I found following this link: http://recorder.maricopa.gov/recdocdata/GetRecDataPaging.aspx?biz1=&biz2=&fn1=Lawrence&mn1=&ln1=Feiner&fn2=&mn2=&ln2=&begdt=1/1/1947&enddt=6/30/2015&doc1=&doc2=&doc3=&doc4=&doc5=   Mr. Feiner owed property taxes for the years 2006 – 2010 in the amount of $11,041.54. Those taxes were recorded as paid by the Maricopa County Recorder and the property liens released on March 3, 2011.

It’s a little different with Mr. Feiner’s federal income taxes however. Apparently he owes Uncle Sam $169,072.70 and there is no record of payment filed as of this date available on the Maricopa County Recorder’s website. Perhaps Mr. Feiner was not Glendale First’s! finest choice as a spokesperson to allege mismanagement of money.

On the same former edition of Glendale First’s! website it goes on to say, “Glendale First! and it’s members remain extremely active in the community, including founding the Desert Hockey Development organization pledged to give back to Glendale while growing the sport of hockey.”

“We are planning a series of fundraising events to, hopefully, retire the debt the committee incurred during the successful opposition to all of the anti-Coyotes referendums. We are proud to be a partner of Desert hockey Development in their inaugural Grow The Game Classic golf tournament to be held June 14, in Glendale, at The Legend at Arrowhead.”

One may assume that the debt the committee incurred in opposition to anti-Coyote efforts thW4CCRYSMwas in part, an estimated $11,000 personally spent by Bea Wyatt and George Fallar. It may be fair to ask how much of the money raised from this golf tournament went to reimburse Fallar and Wyatt. If they did receive reimbursement from a golf tournament primarily publicized as a fund raising event for Desert Hockey Development didn’t they, in essence, do the very same thing that Bea Wyatt has accused the 2 councilmembers under threat of recall of doing? Instead of using all of the funds raised for Desert Hockey from the golf tournament was part of that money used to retire previous debts including that of George Fallar and Bea Wyatt? Are we witnesses of the case of the pots (Feiner and Wyatt) calling the kettle (councilmembers) black??

 

© 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.

I had just finished writing this blog when I received 2 robo calls. The first one was from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club announcing it was seeking petition signatures to put the city council’s affirmative decision to eliminate the sunset provision of the temporary sales tax increase on the ballot. In the call they announced that they would be at the Foothills Recreation Center and the Glendale Main Library this weekend from 9 AM to 5 PM both days gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. I wish them success. I will make a special point of going to the Main Library this weekend to sign their petition.

The second robo call was several hours later and it was from the Glendale Fire Union urging people not to sign the petition and promising dire consequences if the sales tax increase is sunset in 2017. Everyone acknowledges that Glendale’s debt burden is unsustainable. Perhaps it would be more productive if the Fire Union got behind an effort to urge reduction of the city’s debt by selling some of its assets. It would make the entire sales tax sunset issue a moot point. 

The battle lines are drawn. Voters will be fed misinformation and exaggeration from both sides. They will have to wade through the claims and counter claims made until their eyes are crossed. Will voters decide to send a strong message of austerity to the city council or will they decide Glendale cannot continue to exist without a permanent sales tax increase? It looks like the voters of Glendale will be given the opportunity to ultimately decide the issue. Which side will be more successful in activating their voter base? It’s fair to say that the Sales Tax Sunset Elimination War is officially declared. Now…on to the rest of this blog.

The June 24, 2016 city council meeting had two major items not yet reviewed in my blog. One was the passage of Ordinance 2897 removing the sunset provision from the sales tax increase. The other was Ordinance 2899 eliminating city permitted events from the requirements of the city’s noise ordinance.

The elimination of noise provisions for city permitted events is a city-wide ordinance. If there is a city permitted event in Sahuaro Ranch Park, it applies. If there is a city permitted event at Arrowhead Mall, it applies. It does not affect just the residents adjacent to Westgate. It was approved unanimously by city council. Councilmember Chavira, representing west Glendale and the area of Westgate, had no qualms about throwing his residents under the Glendale bus. Perhaps it is time for the voters of his district to question his representation of them, their concerns and their interests.

Sam Allen, Code Compliance Director, also neatly side-stepped a question about the number of previous noise complaints in the Westgate area by saying he did not have that figure as noise complaints are handled by the police department. There were allusions by staff that neighborhoods would remain protected but no specifics as to how that would be accomplished.  Another question asked was how many events declined to locate in Glendale as a result of the city’s noise ordinance? That, too, was deftly ignored.

Ken Sturgis, a citizen commentator, said that he lived .8 of a mile away from Westgate and often heard Westgate event noise within his home. His neighbors heard it as well but felt that the city would do nothing about it. I live a mile away from Westgate and heard noise but not at the same level of intrusion that neighbors living closer to Westgate would have heard. So, in the name of flexibility and competiveness, all neighborhoods throughout Glendale have lost all protection from city permitted event noise. They will experience sound and fury…signifying nothing.

The other ordinance, passed on a 4 to 3 vote (with our usual 4, Knaack, Martinez, Sherwood and Chavira in the affirmative), was the elimination of the sunset provision of the sales tax increase. I was the councilmember who originally insisted it be a provision of the sales tax increase. I did not offer that stipulation on a whim. It was the only way I could support the increase. I trusted and relied upon my fellow councilmembers to keep their word. Little did I know that their acceptance of the sunset provision was done with fingers crossed behind their backs.

Barrel district council candidate Randy Miller spoke to the issue and said the two options, making the sales tax increase permanent or utilizing draconian cuts, were not the only options available. Mayor Weiers agreed and that was the basis of his “no” vote. Mr. Miller said there is always an Option 3 and crafting it should be the goal.

At the time of the passage of sales tax increase with the sunset provision senior staff offered a plan to gradually absorb the $25 million in the temporary sales tax increase by making incremental cuts of $5 million a year over a 5 year period. The first signal that council would not have the fortitude to make the necessary cuts over 5 years was when they could not even accept privatization of custodial maintenance of city buildings. That decision sent a message, loud and clear, to senior staff that making the necessary spending cuts over 5 years was a council non-starter.

I marvel at the city’s propensity and adroitness in propagandizing the issue.  Knowing that the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) is currently circulating a petition to get the council’s vote for elimination of the sunset provision on the ballot, senior staff slipped in a new concept.  The sales tax increase will be reviewed during the budget process each year. Be careful what you wish for. It would be ironic indeed if, at the next budget discussions in the spring of 2015, council decided to raise the sales tax increase. After all, Councilmember Sherwood publicly stated that he believed it would be necessary.

The offer of sales tax increase review every year was strategically offered to mitigate the anger of Glendale voters should the AFEC be successful in getting the question on this fall’s ballot. The city will be holding out the hope that the increase has a chance of being reduced or going away in the future. Maybe after we’re all dead.

The city assertion flies in the face of the fact that the bond rating agencies are taking a close look and relying upon the elimination of the sunset provision to satisfy them. The bond rating agencies will again be very concerned about Glendale’s financial stability when they realize that now the sales tax increase stands an annual possibility of reduction or elimination. By adding this provision of annual review the stability that the bond rating agencies rely upon has been removed.

Another mitigation strategy that the city is already employing is on its website under Frequently Asked Questions about the elimination of the sunset provision. Here is the link:http://www.glendaleaz.com/documents/FAQEliminationofSunsetforTempTax062514.pdf .

The city’s message is that dire consequences will occur should the tax sunset in 2017. They used the same strategy years ago when a group of us nearly got the elimination of food sales tax on the ballot. The city prepared a slick pamphlet asking Glendale citizens to choose what cuts they would be willing to make. All choices were dire and it scared the voters. It worked that time and sadly, it may work this time.

If the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is successful in acquiring the requisite number of signatures to get the question on the fall ballot, don’t buy into scare tactics this time. It’s time for Glendale voters to send a direct message to council and senior management staff. That message is, live within your means. Don’t spend more than the city receives in revenue. If 22% of the budget is devoted to the debt burden, tell them it is their job to reduce the debt.

Which brings up the question, can Camelback Ranch, the Media Center, the Parking Garages, the Convention Center, the Civic Center or Jobing.com arena be sold? I’m not an attorney but I would say “yes.” Many years ago as a small business owner, my landlord sold the building in which I was a tenant. The new landlord and I could not come to mutually agreed terms. When my lease expired I did not renew. I left that location.

Glendale owns these buildings and has the right as landlord to sell them. Tenants in any of these sites would then have to negotiate new lease terms with the new landlord. Glendale may lose some money by selling at present market value but it would remove the debt and/or the O&M costs associated with the asset. Glendale must get its debt burden under control. Right now it is over 22%. It should be under 10%. If Glendale cannot afford these assets, selling them seems to be a prudent course of action.

There are those who will immediately say, we can’t do that. Instead, council direction should be given to the city attorney to make it happen. The city simply cannot continue down this unsustainable debt burden path forever.

There are those who will say, what’re you… nuts? The city can’t do that! It reminds me of something Councilmember Hugh said at this council meeting. He said, paraphrased, that the current council is fractured because its members do not share the same strategy for curing Glendale’s financial situation. Each side believes it has the better path and the right path to solve Glendale’s fiscal crisis.

I have no doubt that the councilmembers love this city. They demonstrate it daily by their service. Unfortunately, a majority believe the only solution is to tax the city out of its financial crisis. The minority believes that there are other choices, painful, yes… but other choices.

It has been my honor and a great privilege to have served as a Glendale councilmember for 16 years. I have lived in Glendale for nearly 50 years. I love this city. You love this city. It is our home. Placing a greater and greater tax burden on those who live in this home, is not prudent…and it sure isn’t the best way to grow Glendale.

© 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.

Over the past week you may have noted there were no blog posts. I took a much needed vacation. I enjoyed it very much, thank you, and came back renewed and reinvigorated.

In public statements with regard to his candidacy for the Cholla district council seat Mr. Petrone said he has “lived in the Cholla district 40 years.” While that may be factually accurate, it is fair to ask if he ever attempted to move out of Glendale. The answer to that question would be “yes.” In a Maricopa County Recorded document dated 2006 Petrone attempted to buy 8368 West Spur Drive in Peoria from Desert Highlands Residential Properties LLC. The deal died when Petrone failed to make any payments on the property. This may not be such a big deal to some readers. I’m sure there are those who signed a contract to buy a home and then backed out or perhaps he intended it to become an investment property. But a case could be made that Mr. Petrone was not that enamored with Glendale and may have been ready to move on. Perhaps he never got over the $500+ lien the City of Glendale placed upon his property for failing to pay a City of Glendale Utility Bill in August, 1990 (Here is the link: http://156.42.40.50/UnOfficialDocs2/pdf/19900561670.pdf). Again, for some this may not be a big deal. I know in the 45 years I have lived in Glendale I have had lapses of memory two or three times and forgotten to pay my bill. That is something that many of us have done inadvertently…but for 99% of us never to the tune of $500.

All of the information contained in this blog is in the public realm and can readily be found on various websites.  The Maricopa County Recorder’s website (link is: http://recorder.maricopa.gov/recdocdata/GetRecDataPaging.aspx?biz1=&biz2=&fn1=Robert&mn1=&ln1=Petrone&fn2=&mn2=&ln2=&begdt=1/1/1974&enddt=4/1/2014&doc1=&doc2=&doc3=&doc4=&doc5=. Beware…there are at least 4 pages of documents. Well over 80 entries); the Arizona Superior Court website under Civil cases (link is: http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/CivilCourtCases/caseSearchResults.asp?lastName=Petrone&FirstName=Robert&bName=. There are 14 cases from 1998 to 2008); and the Maricopa County Assessor’s website (link is: http://mcassessor.maricopa.gov/?s=233-03-003) for verification of home ownership information. Type in Robert Petrone on any of these websites and see what you come up with.

According the Maricopa County Assessor’s website Nicholas Bigelow owns (a link to the deed is on the site) and has been paying the property tax on the current home in which Mr. Petrone lives. It may have some relationship to the fact that Petrone’s wife’s previous last name was Bigelow.

In August of 2013 CBS5 TV did a story on Petrone. Here is the link: http://www.kpho.com/story/23261106/glendale-city-council-candidate-looks-to-win-publics-trust . They reported, “CBS5 did some digging and found a long history of financial problems in Petrone’s past, dating back to 2003, including not paying credit cards, bounced checks and thousands of dollars in unpaid debt. CBS5 uncovered more than 20 civil and criminal cases in Valley justice courts, all connected to Petrone or his landscaping business.” When questioned by a reporter, Mr. Petrone admitted his financial setbacks and said that he had overcome them and went on to say, “I managed to survive and get back on the right track. It’s a pretty good reference to fall back on.” Well-l-l-l, maybe not so. On the Superior Court website and the County Recorder’s website there are pages and pages of documents, including civil cases, associated with Mr. Petrone. In all fairness, it appears over time, he satisfied many of the judgments against him but apparently not all. There are quite a few Renewal of Judgments: a 2008 Renewal for Greenwood Trust Company; two Renewals in 2010 – one with Midland Credit Management Company and one with Palisades Collection; one in 2011 with Unifund CCR Partners; and one, last year, in 2013 with Capital One Bank. Apparently these judgments have not been satisfied by Mr. Petrone and are still on the Superior Court’s books. There were no recorded documents on the County Recorder’s website that showed that these judgments have been released as paid.

How can one expect a man with a history of financial mismanagement of his own affairs to handle the city’s financial affairs? With a city council that already has shown itself impaired when it comes to financial decision making, Petrone’s financial judgments could serve to worsen the situation. It is a serious question that deserves careful consideration by the voters in the upcoming election.

Mr. Petrone then goes on to say that he is at a point in his life when he can work for a councilmember’s salary of $35,000 a year. Really? Based upon his financial history perhaps Mr. Petrone needs this salary more than he would lead the voters to believe.

Then there is the issue of the proposed casino. Mr. Petrone has indicated that he is anti-casino but there are those who think his statements on this issue are not convincing and at the very least, self serving. Some believe that he is electioneer pandering and could very well do a Councilmember Sherwood flip-flop on the issue.

Mr. Petrone carries some weighty baggage that should give voters pause in their consideration of support for him. Two of the biggest issues facing Glendale are the proposed casino and Glendale’s financial issues.  There may be better candidates out there that merit your vote and your support. Current Councilmember Martinez may want to seriously rethink his endorsement of Petrone and pull it. After all, one is judged by the company one keeps.

In a little over a month,, by May 28, 2014, all candidates must submit their nominating petition signatures to get on the fall ballot. Over the course of the next 6 months this blog will take a long, hard look at all of the Glendale councilmember candidates. When one runs for public office, one becomes a public figure and past actions, opinions and comments are grist for voters’ decisions.

© 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.

The reaction to my blog on “Staying quiet in Glendale” hit a nerve with many readers. I received numerous emails from citizens and Glendale employees, past and present. Today’s a good day to round up all the speculative commentary received over the past few months and share.  There were several comments on Glendale’s current environment such as “’Being Quiet in Glendale’ hit the nail on the head!” or ”… not much had changed since Beasley has left….everyone still walking on eggshells and no trust…” Some commenters said the practice of reporting any interaction with councilmembers continues to this day. The general reaction was sympathetic to the four employees that either resigned or were terminated and that Mr. Bolton did not get a fair hearing. Many expressed the sentiment, if it is “so easy to get rid of the ‘good guys’ everyone’s in trouble.”

It also opened up much commentary on other Glendale related issues. Word is out there that we can expect Julie Frisoni’s appointment as Interim Assistant City Manager to become permanent any day.  Many of those commenting pointed out that Frisoni does not meet the minimum necessary qualifications for the position which mandate at least a Masters Degree in Business Administration or Public Administration. Another commenter shared that the very first action by the new City Manager Brenda Fischer was to have a video made about herself by…you guessed it…Julie Frisoni’s department. Several said Jamsheed Mehta is no longer an Interim Assistant City Manager and has been relegated back to his previous duties as Executive Director of Transportation. Hmmm…someone well qualified is shoved to the back of the bus.

Have you ever heard of a “cop card?” Me neither. Apparently it can be used to get out of a speeding ticket in Glendale. Rumor has it that one or two councilmembers could actually possess this “cop card.”

Did you know that City Manager Brenda Fischer’s husband was a firefighter in Henderson, Nevada (he may still hold that position)? Watch for Fischer to recommend making whole firefighters’ overtime pay – not straight time pay but overtime pay. FYI: while the Glendale Police Department has been cut by 16% over the past few years, the fire department’s cuts have come in at considerably less, only 8%.

Lastly, I was sent an article published by the Wall Street Journal on November 1, 2013 entitled Cities revival curbed by red-ink budgets by Jerry A. Dicolo and Cameron McWhirter. It said, in part, “New Orleans was one of five cities among the nation’s largest 250 that in 2012 faced a situation known in municipal finance as a ‘negative fund balance,’ according to data provided to the Wall Street Journal from Merritt Research Services, LLC. The others dealing with the issue, which means at the time the figure was reported, liabilities outweighed assets, were Allentown, PA, Providence, R.I., Glendale, AZ, and Detroit. Data on a few cities weren’t available as of August, 2013, when Merritt collected the information.Credit rating firms consider the metric a sign of a serious structural budget problem. In 2007, before the recession hit, Detroit was the only city with such an imbalance, the figures show. Glendale officials said a new sales tax is expected to generate more revenue and shore up its budget.” The Journal published a graph representing figures from August, 2013 depicting the 10 cities nationally with the lowest reserves (General Fund balance). Here they are in descending order:

  1. Detroit, Mich                     -27%  ( minus reflects negative fund balance to expenditures)
  2. Glendale, Ariz                   -21.2%
  3. Providence, R.I.                –  3.4%
  4. New Orleans, La               –   1.8%
  5. Allentown, Pa                   –  0.90%
  6. Paterson, N.J.                  +  0.07% (plus reflects positive fund balance to expenditures)
  7. New York, N.Y.                 + 0.72%
  8. New Haven, Conn             +   1.7%
  9. Bridgeport, Conn              +   2.4%
  10. Philadelphia, Pa                +   2.7%

In an article by the Arizona Republic dated October 31, 2013 entitled Challenges abound as cities climb out of financial holes by Parker Leavitt. It says, “Glendale’s general-fund reserves fell 143 percent over five years, ending fiscal 2012 with a $26.5 million negative balance, according to financial reports. Payments to the National Hockey League for Phoenix Coyotes operating losses led to significant declines in Glendale’s reserve funds in 2011 and 2012, according to a Moody’s credit report.” Obviously Glendale has significant financial problems. This council continues to spend money the city does not have.

Council has taken actions that were not budgeted in the current Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget: an external audit costing over a half million dollars; the Beacon Request for Proposal for the Arena (never used) costing over $100K; or the biggie, an additional $9M for the arena management fee (that will never be covered in total by the “enhanced revenue fees” promised by IceArizona); or the employee Christmas vacation time costing over $1M dollars. It adds up to approximately another $2M unbudgeted that will have to come from other departments…except for fire, I guess.

In upcoming budget workshops for Fiscal Year 2014-15 council must consider making substantial cuts of approximately $9M and additional cuts of about $5M a year for the next several years. The temporary sales tax increase is due to expire in 2017. There is already talk that the City Manager will recommend that the temporary sales tax increase become permanent. That is not what I, as a former councilmember, or the voters expect. The voter approved proposition mandates that it disappear in 2017 and that is what we demand. Every citizen should be on alert. If you have the time and inclination please watch when city council takes up the budget in March of 2014. I will be watching…will you?

© Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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, democracy, 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 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 Sunday, October 13, 2013 the Arizona Republic posted an editorial entitled City Finally Getting Clue on Super Bowl. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/opinions/articles/20131007glendale-super-bowl-editorial.html . If I wanted a sermon I can always get one from my priest.

At least the editorial acknowledged the NFL’s heavy-handed demands with, “The NFL can be a demanding taskmaster when it comes to operating its big game. It wants to have things just so, and those things can be costly.” And that’s the point. The costs borne by the Host City far outweigh the revenue earned to cover those costs. Not so for Scottsdale, Phoenix, etc., who reap the revenues from major NFL events that earn enough to pay for their expenses. The editorial failed to acknowledge or even mention that other states, Texas and Florida, do pay Host Cities for their losses.

It goes on to say, “But, like it or not, if you want to continue playing host to the Super Bowl, you mostly have to play by NFL rules. That is just how it is.” There are two assumptions in that remark. There is an assumption that Glendale wants to continue to play host to the Super Bowl. I am sure every other Valley city most certainly wants to but is it in Glendale’s best financial interest? Not currently. Don’t be so quick to assume that Glendale should host future Super Bowls without recompense. The other assumption is that every Super Bowl Host City is held hostage by the NFL with their remark, “that is just how it is.” It’s time for potential Host Cities to form their own monopolistic league and negotiate terms with the NFL. It’s time when the NFL asks a Host City to jump, the Host City stops asking “How high?”

The article lays blame on Glendale, its usual modus operandi and its favorite city to bash, by saying, “…Glendale has been slow to grasp these essential details.” Oh really? Glendale successfully hosted a Super Bowl. It knew what to do and when to do it and performed at a very high level.  Glendale has proven its ability to host successfully. Glendale understands what is required of it and when but it is up to the Arizona Host Committee and the NFL to acknowledge Glendale as a full, participating partner. They have failed to do so to date.

Lastly, it says, “The Valley of the Sun has developed a strong reputation among those in college football and basketball and within the NFL who make the decision about where to host their marquee events.” Then it’s up to the member cities of the Valley of the Sun to create a mechanism that makes their sister city, Glendale, financially whole. Glendale was proud to host a Super Bowl and would be proud to host future ones but not by committing financial hari kari.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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On August 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM I received the following email: “Since you were interviewed as part of the process, I wanted to let you know that the City-Council-directed-external-audit of the city’s finances is complete and is being released to the public and media today. The documents will be posted on the city’s home page and are available for you at this link: http://www.glendaleaz.com/documents/SpecialProject-SummaryofFindingsandConclusions.pdf    Julie Frisoni”

This short and not-so-sweet email went to people interviewed for the external audit (or declined the request for an interview) but are no longer working for the city. It would have included me, former Mayor Elaine Scruggs, former City Manager Ed Beasley, former Assistant City Manager Pam Kavanaugh, former Finance Director Ed Lynch, former Human Resources Director Alma Carmicle and former Risk Manager Jim Loeb. I assume another email went to currently employed city personnel who were interviewed.

I had not checked my email all day but I did so late in the evening. I immediately went to the link provided in the email (you can do so as well), downloaded and printed out the 250 plus page external audit produced at a cost of half a million dollars. Then I spent the next couple of hours reading and analyzing it.

Finally, finally, finally, the city has released the results of the external audit. This is an issue for discussion that is long overdue. To do it justice there will be this article to be followed by two more. This first section will flesh out the scope of the audit, the players and the atmosphere surrounding the actions that occurred. It’s time to set the record straight.

The firm hired to perform the external audit was Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally, PLC (HMPFM). They, in turn, subcontracted Fidelity Forensics Group, LLC., the Law Offices of A. Bates Butler and Evidence Solutions, Inc.

Their mandate was to investigate actions related to the Early Retirement Program (ERP); transfers between and out of the Risk Management Trust Fund (RMTF) and the Workmens Compensation Trust Fund (WCTF); look at any other cash transfers into the city’s General Fund; and evaluation of city management’s disclosure of these actions to the city council. They would also be charged with identifying any civil or criminal liability related to these actions. As they worked their way through these issues council approved enlarging their scope of investigation to include lack of city contributions to the trust funds; the city’s actions under the Federal Early Retirement Reimbursement Program (FERRP); Art Lynch’s employment arrangements after he retired as well as city action associated with his retirement; and Alma Carmicle’s work arrangement after she moved to Mississippi. In other words did anyone deliberately misdirect city funds or use them improperly, was improper direction given and did the city council know?

We know who was hired to do the work and what they were hired to investigate. To do their work they secured 19 workstations and/or computers and/or other devices such as tablets and phones. They reviewed nearly 75,000 documents but perhaps, most importantly, they performed 37 interviews. 27 people were interviewed (some more than once) as follows:

*    Norma Alvarez        *   Don Bolton             *   Jim Brown               *    Cathy Mcintyre        *   Ann Buchmeier       *   Nick DiPiazza             *   Julie Frisoni             *    Diane Goke           *   Horatio Skeete          *   Julianna Lloyd        *   Christina Parry       *   Craig Sullivan              *   Candace MacLeod   *   John Stern               *   Darcie McCracken       *   Raquel Montero        *   Joyce  Clark          *   Robert Steele           *   Elizabeth Smith        *   Andy Jennings         *   Elaine Scruggs         *   Shelly Kitts               *   Lupe Sierra         *   Craig Tindall                    *    Jill Shaw                *   Jim Summers        *   Michael Morrison              *   Sherry Schurhammer

More telling are those who were asked for interviews but declined them:

             *   Ed Beasley                  *   Art Lynch              

              *   Jim Loeb                     *   Pam Kavanaugh

             *   Alma Carmicle 

Now we have our cast of characters. What was the environment under former City Manager Ed Beasley’s tenure? It can be characterized in two words — very controlling. I used to joke and say that councilmembers were mushrooms. There’s an old country saying that mushrooms are grown in the dark and fed horse manure. It turns out to be more colorfully accurate than anyone imagined. Page 19 of the external audit says, “From the onset of the ERP, City Management and staff failed to keep the City Council appropriately informed, at times misled them and/or provided incorrect information. Under the previous administration, city staff was hindered and/or prohibited from providing valuable information to the City Council. Until recently City staff was hesitant to make independent decisions or communicate directly with the City Council due to a mandate by City Management that all Council communications be run through the City Manager’s office. The few times City staff was allowed to present to the City Council, they were required to do a dry run for City Management and only present that which was approved at that rehearsal. These acts could be most readily observed in official communications by City Management and staff with the City Council.” Finally here is formal vindication of my actions as Chairperson of the Trust Funds and as your councilmember despite the smear tactics used by my opponent in my recent reelection campaign.

In my conversations with various staff, there was confirmation that not only did every council communication have to flow through the city manager’s office but that staff was required to report any verbal communication had with councilmembers. They also, I kid you not, had various staff members act in the roles of individual councilmembers and then rehearse the proposed presentation to be made to council. It was a formidable and intimidating atmosphere in which Beasley expected results. Policy direction was his forte. Immersing himself in detail to achieve the objective was not. Question: Who exactly constituted “City Management” at that time? Or did Beasley instead rely upon his “inner circle” of trusted advisers?”

What occurred disturbs me – no, it’s worse than that. It makes me sick to my stomach. Management staff, almost universally belong to the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA). ICMA’s Code of Ethics can be seen at this link: http://icma.org/en/icma/ethics/code_of_ethics.

Tenet 3 of the Code is as follows, “Be dedicated to the highest ideals of honor and integrity in all public and personal relationships in order that the member may merit the respect and confidence of the elected officials, of other officials and employees, and of the public.” Staff members involved betrayed the trust we placed in them and treated us as mushrooms.

Next up — what did the investigation reveal?

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has 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, democracy, 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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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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