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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 18 years and 118 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

There were three major items on the city council workshop agenda of April 12, 2016: Assessment of the Glendale Police Department by Citygate Associates, LLC; Assessment of the Glendale Fire Department by Citygate Associates, LLC; and the Classification and Compensation Study by Segal Waters. All were major studies and links are provided to all.

Citygate performed a fair and unbiased study of the police department and fire department and staff is to be congratulated for having chosen them. These studies corroborate the fact that both departments, while they have specific needs, have performance and service records that are exceptional and meeting our community’s needs.

I have provided the Executive Summary of the police department analysis here: Citygate Associates Deployment and Performance Review .There are several comments that are worthy of note. On page 3 of the Executive Summary it states, “The Glendale City Council and this community have every reason to be proud of its Police Department. In Citygate’s opinion, as well as the opinion of many people interviewed for this report, the Police Chief and the Command staff were identified as a key strength. They are regarded as compassionate and caring individuals with a strong and unwavering commitment to the employees and the community. They were described as being ‘available’ to meet with community groups, actively listening to their concerns, and taking appropriate actions.”

On page 2 it was noted, “The recommendations in this study should be considered as a continuous quality improvement tune-up that can be applied in the year-to-year budget process.”

Also on page 2 City gate noted 5 major areas, “There are, however, five areas that draw particular attention to: (1) sufficient staffing to meet the deployment needs and response time standards for hot and emergency calls; (2) response times for second-in units (backup units); (3) restoring the professional (civilian) staff positions that provide support for key areas such as communications, patrol, and investigations; (4) 9-1-1 answering times in the Communications Center; and (5) appropriate staffing for non-emergency report calls.”

Citygate offered 50 findings and 41 recommendations at the conclusion of its report. Two thirds of its findings are positive and validate the department’s priorities and strategies. Its overall strategic finding #1 is, “Current budgeted vacancies throughout the organization are impacting service delivery, performance standards, and response times.” The overall strategic recommendation #1 is, “Fill the current budgeted vacancies and implement Community Service Officer additions as detailed in Section 1.8.”

Two recommendations are particularly noteworthy. On page 13 Citygate’s recommendation #6 states, “Establish a new CSO classification, capable of performing the recommended duties described above. Augument staffing in Patrol, Investigations and Call Back Unit (CBU) with these positions. Specific to Patrol, we recommend 6 CSOs be added to assist in call load distribution and reduce response times. (CSO staffing recommendations for Investigations and CBU are found in Section 4.”)

The second recommendation of note is the finding that the indirect costs of special events are not reimbursed under current contract agreements with the recommendation to, “examine alternative funding reimbursement mechanisms for special events, especially those conducted at the arena and stadium.”

What do these recommendations mean in English? A Community Service Officer (CSO) is a non-sworn position and would not require graduation from a police training academy. This position would still require some rigorous checks such as a background check, polygraph, psychological, etc. This position would certainly take the more mundane tasks away from sworn officers. They could assist at traffic accidents (which by their very nature are very time consuming for patrol officers). They could perform paperwork and report tasks for investigative officers (also very time consuming) and could handle Call Backs to citizens with regard to minor crimes. In other words this position would free up time for sworn officers to handle more serious tasks. It was recommended that 6 CSO positions be added to patrol and 4 CSO positions to investigations over two years and 2 CSO positions to the CBU. Obviously not all can be added in one year but it is incumbent upon city council to develop a schedule of adding these positions over the next several budget cycles.

The other recommendation of note is that the city does not recapture the costs involved in assisting special events at the arena and stadium. This has been well known by senior staff for years. One had simply to look at the police and fire costs to host the Super Bowl to know that the city has never received full compensation. It is an issue whose time has come. Up to now the police department has been absorbing the unpaid costs. The police department budget is part of the city’s General Fund which means you, the taxpayer, pays for the unrecompensed costs of special events.

Many of the recommendations about further data analysis, the records unit, etc. are being done or have been completed internally.  Other recommendations are under additional evaluation such as the criteria for Priority 2 calls, and the restoration of Detention staffing. Other recommendations will be adopted immediately such as filling current, budgeted vacancies and certifying an investigator for forensic computer analysis.

In summary, the report identified that the Glendale police department’s service delivery is meeting the mark but if we expect it to continue, it cannot be done without recognizing that there are certain staffing areas within the department that will need resources over the next few budget cycles.

On to the Citygate analysis of the Glendale Fire Department provided here Fire HQ Assessment – Volume 1 of 3. Remember last year and the entire dustup about the city’s purchase of a fire engine and the fire union’s assertion that the city was in dire straits because response times were deteriorating? Does the union realize that if it keeps crying wolf at some point the public will no longer believe them. Citygate definitively stated that our fire department’s response times meet the National Fire Protection Association (NPFA) advisory, best practices standard of 7 minutes and recommended its formal adoption.

 Once again, I recognize that the individual firefighters, men and women, are outstanding and deliver caring and efficient service to our community. I thank them for their exceptional service. My only concern has been that the fire union, for too long, has run the department and worked diligently to realize its agenda. That agenda has not always been in the best interests of our community. With the hiring of the new Fire Chief Terry Garrison it appears that his only agenda is to deliver the best service possible to Glendale’s residents. After 5 months on the job he has already proven that he is indeed in charge of Glendale’s fire department. He is to be commended based upon his performance to date.

Citygate says on page 1 of its Executive Summary, “Citygate finds a best practices based agency, with very committed and caring employees, some of the best we have ever met. They take pride in what they do, how they do it, and in taking care of the expensive equipment the City has to provide.”

Just as in Citygate’s analysis of the police department it offered findings and recommendations for the fire department as well.

On page 7 of the Executive Summary recommendation #2 states in part, “Funding should be provided, as soon as possible, to make a two-person low acuity team permanent.” In recommendation #3 on the same page it states, “The Department should work with its Medical Director and the ambulance provider to send only basic (Emergency Medical Technician [EMT], non-paramedic) ambulances to the low acuity incidents. Doing so will further control costs and retain more paramedic-level ambulances for the most serious patient emergencies.”

What does this mean? If you recall I questioned the use of big fire trucks and ladder trucks with a full crew of 4 firefighters responding to medical calls. The wear and tear on the equipment, the cost of use, and the removal of 4 firefighters from service is impractical and costly to the city. I asked that we follow the City of Mesa’s lead and develop a pilot project using a smaller vehicle with a two man team. Thanks to Interim Fire Chief (now back to his position as Assistant Chief) Chris DeChant the implementation of that pilot project began immediately. Apparently it has proven itself and in Fiscal Year 16-17 there will be a request for an additional unit. Kudos to Assistant Chief DeChant.

Another Citygate recommendation is that Fire Prevention develop and implement “an in-depth cost recovery policy,” as well as, “a permit and inspection fee schedule.”

Two critical findings found on page 9 of the Executive Summary identify the need to replace the department’s Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), to replace paramedic cardiac monitor defibrillator units, and to acquire a second set of personal protective equipment for each firefighter. These findings are critical to the health and safety of every firefighter and to the patients they serve. It appears that funding requests for SCBA and protective equipment will be in the Fiscal Year 16-17 budget.

There were two findings that are also critical and must be addressed. One is the department must create a fire apparatus replacement program. The other is the department and the city does not have a capital facilities replacement fund to support capital repairs, replace fire stations or to add new fire stations. These issues must be addressed by senior management.

Another recommendation was the city’s pursuit of a Certificate of Necessity (CON) for city provided ambulance service. I don’t think the city is there yet.  Investigation of the requirements and steps to achieve such are appropriate but it has not proven necessary to acquire a CON yet. City provision of ambulance service is extremely costly despite staff assertions that costs will be covered by those using the city provided service. It never quite comes out that way and will become another major annual cost to taxpayers. Obtaining a CON must be proven to be essential and critical to the city.

Lastly, a recommendation to rehabilitate the city’s pre-emptive traffic control devices is a welcome step. These devices allow public safety to change a red light to green at intersections but will only minimally affect travel time to a scene. It will make intersections safer for public safety personnel as well as citizens. As Citygate observed as Glendale continues to become more urbanized its response times will increase due to the sheer volume of traffic as well as the city’s street grid system.

In summary Citygate did a thorough job of evaluating service delivery to the residents of Glendale. It found that service delivery of both departments is exceptional and their representatives offered that these two departments perform well above other municipal departments. The Citygate representatives were truly impressed with our departments.

Every Glendale resident should be impressed and proud of our police and fire departments. I think many residents do appreciate their service although it is not often expressed unless you happen to be a victim of a crime or a medical emergency. I think it is only then that many people come to realize how truly committed and caring our police and fire employees are. So, for the silent majority…thank you from grateful community.

I offered a great deal of information so I will discuss the Classification and Compensation Study in a separate blog.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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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.

First, some further clean up information on the Foothills Library. Questions have arisen as to which entity initiated the idea of sale of Foothills Library. Some contend senior staff offered it to Midwestern in an effort to produce more funds for the city. Others contend that Midwestern approached the city first. The jury is out on that question and only the two principals know the answer. What I find far more interesting is city council three years ago had requested a list of all city properties and their value. To date they have never received such a listing from senior management. To my knowledge, city council has never given specific direction to sell the Foothills Library.

Some have asked about the Capital Improvement Bonds issued to build the library. Voter approval was granted for bond capacity issuance in various categories, including that of parks and libraries. While the voter approval caps the dollar amount of bond value that may be issued, that capacity can be used for any project within its category and is not voter mandated as to which capital projects will be funded.

The current Foothills Library is 33,500 square feet. It would be reduced in size and scope to 9,100 square feet if relocated to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center (FRAC). In reality the relocated library would be placed in the FRAC’s Coyote Room which is 3,000 square feet. The kitchen area in which the library would have access is 500 square feet. The FRAC Activity Room which is occupied by pool tables would be dedicated to the library and is 2,700 square feet. However, the room’s walls are rounded. Thus the useable space is less than 2,700 square feet. The total space is 6,200 square feet, not 9,100 square feet. The additional 3,000 square feet are second floor meeting rooms counted in the library’s new square footage of 9,100 square feet. Those meeting rooms currently are dedicated to Parks and Recreation programming. Special interest classes currently held in those meeting rooms would have to be relocated. The only other option is to share the 3,000 square feet of meeting space between Parks and Recreation and the relocated library.  Hmmm…a reduction in library size from 33,000 square feet to 9,100 square feet (an approximate space reduction of 60%) will certainly enhance library services…not.

As more and more Glendale residents become aware of this proposed sale of the Foothills Library, citizen displeasure and pressure is growing to reject it. You can help by contacting the mayor and council to voice your rejection of this idea at:

Other agenda items from the Tuesday, February 3, 2015 city council workshop was the Glendale Fire Department’s request for a Certificate of Necessity (CON) from the Arizona Department of Health Services to provide city owned and operated advanced life support transport services (ambulances) within Glendale and outside of Glendale (due to Automatic Aid). Council gave its support to proceeding to seek this CON. Once the Certificate is granted, Glendale does not have to implement this service. Make no mistake, the Fire Department will seek any and all opportunities to grow and will seek to implement the service.

I read the minutes of the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) on the CON application for American Medical Response (it was granted recently). Of interest to note are the rates the state has approved for various medical transport services:

  • Advanced Life Support (ALS) rate: $862.40
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) rate: $768.20
  • Mileage rate: $15.48
  • Standby/Waiting rate: $192.05
  • Subscription Service rate: $80.54
  • Disposable Medical Supply rate: Separate charges apply

We will wait to see what the Fire Department proposes after it receives approval for a Certificate of Necessity. Council should take note that the one time, upfront cost to implement Glendale’s Advanced Life (ALS) Support with 4 new ambulances is said to be $760,000. Fire claims that cost is recoverable. It is not. I also have difficulty in accepting that this is the total cost. An ALS equipped ambulance will be in the neighborhood of $200,000. Add to that the cost of personnel to staff each vehicle.  These are real costs and it doesn’t matter whether it’s contract labor or a full time Glendale employee.

The last agenda item was city council discussion of mayoral and council staff becoming “at-will” employees rather than as they are now, classified employees. It is my observation that council missed a golden opportunity to insure its independence and confidentiality. City Manager Brenda Fischer announced that insuring council’s confidentiality was an “administrative” prerogative. Brent Stoddard, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Supervisor of all council staff, assured council that he would maintain council staff’s “political sensitivity.” While council staff does not report directly to Fischer, it does directly report to Stoddard. And who does Stoddard report to? Why, City Manager Fischer. Duh… When Mayor Weiers asked if there would be retaliation if his staff refused to divulge confidential matters, he got a non-answer. Not exactly reassuring. Councilmembers Turner, Sherwood, Chavira and Aldama were in the majority and wished no change to the current employee status.

Of note: Did you know the Phoenix Business Journal is about to present City Manager Brenda Fischer with the “Outstanding Woman in Business Award?” I guess they didn’t get the memo on Fischer’s very public tantrum at the Yard House restaurant berating Don Heicht, the CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. A majority of Glendale’s residents are embarrassed by her non-professionalism and believe at the very least, she deserves a reprimand in her personnel file.

Lastly, Republican State Senator Sylvia Allen of Snowflake introduced a bill this week that is designed to gut the state’s Open Meeting Law. Currently the law forbids elected officials from discussing upcoming agenda issues in secret among themselves. Allen’s bill allows elected officials to discuss agenda items prior to their vote, secretly. Please take the time to email Glendale’s state representatives with your expression of non support for this legislation:

Emails are a fast, efficient and very effective way to let your elected officials know your position on proposed legislation whether it is to the Glendale mayor and council to express your disapproval of the proposed sale of Foothills Library; or to your state representatives on legislation to destroy the state’s Open Meeting Law. Your voice does count…make it heard today!

© 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 received the email below from a blog reader today. It is an email sent by a Glendale resident to the City Clerk, her assistant; Vice Mayor Knaack and Mayor Weiers. I have withheld the complainant’s name and address.

From: LSFlatau@q.com” <lsflatau@q.com> 

To: “Darcie McCracken”“<DMcCracken@GLENDALEAZ.com>, “Pam Hanna” <PHanna@GLENDALEAZ.com> Cc: “Yvonne Knaack” <YKnaack@GLENDALEAZ.com>, “Cindy Nossek” <CNossek@GLENDALEAZ.com>, mayorweiers@glendaleaz.com                    Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 9:57:24 AM                                                                                                                                     Subject: Glendale Fire Department Electioneering??

Good Morning Ms. Hanna/Ms. McCracken,  Last night, at approximately 5:30PM, I was approached by a young man in my driveway at 6107 W. Desert Cove Avenue.  He very specifically indicated that he was with the Glendale Fire Department, and was handing out election material for Bart Turner, who as you know is running for City Council in the Barrel District.  Upon further questioning he noted that he was a volunteer fireman and didn’t live in this district, and consequently his actions were permissible.   I realize that without the name of the individual that you cannot pursue him personally, but by mentioning the Glendale Fire Department specifically he has crossed an ethical and possibly legal ground.  I am quite certain that it is inappropriate to specifically identify the Glendale Fire Department as the agency campaigning for an individual running for City Council.  Attempting to influence an election by utilizing the power and prestige of the Fire Department just can’t be allowed.  I respectfully request that you immediately notify the City Manager and Fire Chief of this individual’s actions so that all City employees can be advised as to what is or isn’t appropriate during this election season.  Your prompt attention and reply to this matter is greatly appreciated.     

Respectfully, Larry S. Flatau  6107 W. Desert Cove Ave.

Glendale, AZ  

Will anything happen as a result of this citizen’s complaint to the city? Probably not…it’s the city, you know. More properly this complaint should be directed to the State and County Attorney General’s Offices and to the AZ Secretary of State and the Maricopa County Elections Department. If any reader witnesses what is believed to be a campaign violation those above are where any complaint should rightfully go…with a Cc to the City Manager of Glendale.

It is clear that a volunteer with the Glendale Fire Department was going door-to-door on October 20, 2014 handing out campaign literature for Barrel district candidate Bart Turner. He represented himself as being with the Glendale Fire Department. There may be a grey area in this scenario. He said he was a volunteer and not a paid employee. Does that make a difference? Maybe…maybe not.

This action leads to more questions. Was or is he the only fire department “volunteer” going door-to-door distributing campaign material for Turner? If there are others, are they all “volunteers” or are some paid fire employees “volunteering” their time? Did the individual in question have permission from someone within the fire department to use the department’s name?

What is even more interesting is the Glendale Fire Union’s full court press in support of candidate Turner. For many years John Holland was President of the Glendale Fire Union. It was common knowledge that he often personally managed the campaigns of candidates supported by the Fire Union. It is but one example of the extreme influence the Glendale fire union has historically had in Glendale elections. He once told me the union did regular polling of Glendale candidates. No doubt the union still performs that activity. As a result of recent fire union polling they may have discovered that their candidate Bart Turner is in trouble. If that were to be true, that would explain their redoubled, last minute effort on Turner’s behalf. The recent incidents of the use of the nonprofit Hope for Hunger truck to carry and place campaign signs for Turner; Glendale Historical Society (another nonprofit organization) members handing out Turner literature at Sahuaro Ranch (a city owned park); and now a self-identified Glendale Fire Department volunteer going door-to-door for Turner signal that fire is worried that their candidate may not win the Barrel seat.

All of these allegations place a cloud over Turner’s candidacy and should give every Barrel district voter pause. Barrel voters should be asking, why is fire working so hard to get Turner elected? Does their polling show Randy Miller in the lead? Fire’s actions should cause every Barrel district voter to choose Randy Miller as the new Barrel councilmember. Miller has the intellect, the willingness to research issue and the independence to make decisions that are in the best interests not only of Barrel district residents but all of 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.

This is a follow up to my recent blog of February 5, 2014, “Here come da Chief.” New information has become available, most specifically, a letter from Freightliner distributed to all councilmembers which is now a public record. It raises some very interesting questions.

Apparently the fire union chose E-One as the successful bidder. The process was handled internally by the fire department, not the city and not its Procurement Division. Perhaps Procurement would have been more appropriate to handle this transaction.  You will remember that questions were raised by Freightliner the night of the council meeting during the Public Comment when this item was on the agenda for council approval. It was pulled by the City Manager and it looks like the process will be repeated with a formal RFP process this time. It seems someone’s hand was caught in the cookie jar.

Freightliner has been around for quite some time and has been the successful bidder on multiple occasions throughout the state. E-One not so much. The City has previously used E-One to supply some of its equipment.  Apparently Wayne Smith (who handled the current process), Don Jesse and others have had a close relationship with E-One since it began operation. Some of these gentlemen appeared to have either ownership interests or were employed by E-One. If true, that alone, is sufficient for their recusal from the process.

The city received an excellent bid from E-One but how?  Apparently Wayne Smith was frantically calling Freightliner representatives at 4:30 one morning to secure specific information on their bid. Did Smith provide this information to E-One so that it could tailor its bid to come in $3,000 lower than Freightliner’s bid?

We know the E-One bid was higher than the grant monies provided for the fire truck’s purchase. It appears the purchase can be made for less money. Why is a department which is sorely in need of revenue with many other needs, such a new firefighter gear, wasting money by asking for fire truck options that are outdated and frankly overkill? According to Wayne Smith’s conversation with Freightliner representatives, it appears that the fire union was requiring these options. Why?

The city has historically used a traditional pumper. The E-One bid was for a rescue pumper with a different design from that which Glendale currently uses. It would require extra training for its use. How much would that have cost the city?

E-One is a company that seems to be struggling. It is currently owned by a hedge fund and has had a succession of presidents lately.  Apparently their ability to offer maintenance and support for this bid is dwindling and in doubt.

This particular bid process seems to reek of favoritism and may very well be unethical. Apparently Glendale continues to have problems in practicing ethical behavior, even under its new senior management.  The universal hope was that there would be a new era of leadership. Yet all signs point to a continuation of previous behavior. How disappointing.

© 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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