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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Campaign finance reports were due by 5 PM on Thursday, September 29, 2016. As of this posting (after 5 PM on Friday, September 30, 2016) Sammy Chavira’s campaign filing report has not been posted by the City Clerk. Why, you say? Because Sammy has not turned it in. Sammy apparently believes that the laws that everyone tries to uphold do not apply to him. It’s not terribly surprising considering his attitude toward a simple traffic ticket. He failed to appear in court and subsequently had his driver’s license suspended. In addition the Campaign for Truth and Leadership committee and Fire Fighters interested in Registration and Education PAC have not turned in their latest and now overdue campaign finance reports either. These organizations spent a considerable amount of money in support of Sammy’s reelection.

The amount of money spent on the Glendale mayoral race is truly astounding. Burdick reported spending $121,489.60 and Weiers spent $107,356.97. The total for these two races is $228,846.57 or slightly over a quarter of a million dollars. What bumped up the numbers was for the first time there were TV ads, notoriously expensive. Burdick led the way with TV ads beginning during the Republican convention in mid-July and they were run repeatedly and relentlessly until August 30, 2016, the day of the Primary Election. Weiers had no option but to run his own series of TV ads.

It appears from now on a person should not consider running for mayor in Glendale unless he or she can amass a war chest of a minimum of $100,000. That will put many would-be candidates out of the race. It’s a shame that it has come to that.

There could be as many as four aspirants in the 2020 election for mayor. Many suspect that former Councilmember Yvonne Knaack still harbors ambitions. Add to that Councilmembers Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama, all of whom seem to be jockeying for a run. Throw in a dash of former Assistant City Manager and major player in the Burdick failed contest, Julie Frisoni. During the election season some voters received a survey call asking for a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Julie Frisoni. Many considered it strange since she wasn’t running. It seems she may be preparing for a political future and could decide to run against Lauren Tolmachoff for the Cholla district seat or perhaps…gasp…mayor. A Cholla city council seat  seemed a far more likely proposition if Burdick had won the mayoral contest but despite the outcome Frisoni and her backers may decide to give it or a mayoral race  a try in 2018.

In the other races more modest sums were spent: Vice Mayor Ian Hugh spent $26,815.31; Councilmember Ray Malnar spent $11,696.13 and I spent $11,489.70. Collectively that amounts to $50,001.14. However, we do know from Sammy’s previous campaign report that he had already spent $57,905.98 and we will await seeing what shows up in his overdue report. So far, the collective total for council races is $107,907.12. Anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 is a typical amount that is usually spent on a Glendale city council race. In its previous campaign report, The Campaign for Truth and Leadership spent $45,218.56 (donated to it from the United Food Workers). The committee is now terminated. The entire amount was not spent on pro Burdick and pro Chavira mailers or anti Weiers or anti Clark mailers (about $30,000). Some of the funds (about $15,000) was spent in support of Larkin and Andrade.

Let’s total what we know has been spent in Glendale’s elections per the latest submitted campaign finance reports. Two candidates spent $228,846.57 on the mayoral races; $107,907.12 was spent on the 3 city council races; and another $30,000 was spent by an Independent Committee. That totals $336,753.69. I suspect Sammy’s missing report will show additional expenditures of about $20,000 bringing the total spent in this round of Glendale elections to somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000. That’s a surprisingly large amount of money to spend in a Glendale election cycle and has never occurred before.

I don’t have an answer to this escalation of political spending. A friend suggested that perhaps there should be a cap of maybe $50,000 for a mayoral race and $20,000 for a council race. It’s intriguing. It would cause the candidate to spend wisely and effectively. This person believes it would force candidates to have more interaction with voters and perhaps more reliance on social media which costs relatively nothing. What’s your take on the state of Glendale races?

© Joyce Clark, 2016          

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.

A friend sent me an October, 2016 Atlantic Monthly article written by Molly Boll entitled “Scared rich candidate.” Here is the link:  http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/10/theres-nothing-better-than-a-scared-rich-candidate/497522/ . While the thrust of the article pertains to national, presidential candidates the premises she offers could be applied to local candidates as well.

The article states, “These are boom times for political consultants—by one rough estimate, more than $6 billion will go to or through consulting firms during this year’s elections…” On the Glendale level, each mayoral candidate raised at least $100,000. In addition, Independent Political Action Committees (PACs) spent in opposition to or for a particular mayoral candidate at least an estimated $50,000 more. We will have a better picture of the numbers after the next campaign finance reports are filed at the end of September. It is not unreasonable to say that an estimated $250,000 was poured into the Glendale mayoral race. That kind of money is not limited to Glendale’s mayoral race. Sammy Chavira, my opponent in the Yucca district council race, spent an estimated $40,000 and Independent PACs easily spent another $40,000 in opposition to me. That’s not chump change. Imagine, $80,000 or more spent to try to defeat a challenger in a small, local district race.

The article goes on to say, “Despite all the money pouring into political consulting, a palpable sense of unease looms over the profession. The consultants may be getting rich, but recent events suggest they don’t have any idea what they’re doing.” Ms. Boll cites statistics on various campaign strategies, TV advertising, campaign mailers, robo calls and campaign signs, with the conclusion that most of these strategies are not as effective as commonly assumed. The implication being that a candidate, upon advice of a consultant, may be just throwing money away. She also reveals that many consultants either have relationships with or have created companies that provide the very materials the consultants urge a candidate to use. It is often the case that a consultant will receive a fee for consultancy and also receive payment through a consultant’s own company for campaign material.  An analogy might be that you go to a referral website to buy a product only to discover that the site gets paid for not only every referral it generates but has a company that makes the product and receives profit every time the product is sold.

Ms. Boll goes on to say, “Many political scientists believe election outcomes are largely the result of factors over which candidates and their campaigns have little control.” Some political scientists, having studied this issue believe “there are few ‘game changing’ moments in a campaign.” They believe “the vast majority of presidential elections…can be forecast based on the state of the nation’s economy and the approval rating of the sitting president.” It is safe to assume the same of local contests as well. In Glendale, most of its citizens don’t follow its politics and don’t vote. Often the percentage of active voters hovers around 10%. There are 6 political districts in Glendale: Cholla, Sahuaro, Barrel, Cactus, Ocotillo and Yucca. Each has roughly 20,000 voters. Yet voter participation in each district ranges roughly from 3,000 to 6,000 active voters. The northern districts of Cholla, Sahuaro and Barrel, historically have more active voters than the southern districts of Cactus, Ocotillo and Yucca. Unless there is a distinct and widely publicized and divisive crisis within the city, these voters tend to return an incumbent to office. With Glendale’s economic status stabilized and improving there was no impetus on the part of the voter to change the status quo with the exception of one factor – the candidate’s character.

Others tend to agree and think “consultants’ main influence is at the macro level, in shaping a campaign’s overall message and coaching the candidate. ‘It’s the consultants’ job to take who the person is—their fixed characteristics—and leverage it’.” This premise held true in the current Glendale election cycle. Mayoral candidate Mark Burdick publicly admitted that upon the advice of his campaign consultants (you can include former Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni) their winning strategy was to sling as much mud as possible at sitting Mayor Jerry Weiers in the hope that some of it would stick and discredit him enough to create a win for Burdick. Sammy Chavira’s political consultants created the same type of campaign in the Yucca district but they wanted to divert the voters’ attention away from Sammy’s record of taxpayer abuse and failure to do his job.

“Adam Sheingate, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University, argues that the consulting industry has ballooned not because its services are particularly effective, but because all the money in politics—which has skyrocketed in the past decade due to campaign-finance deregulation—has to go somewhere.” Ms. Boll quotes Mr. Sheingate as saying, “The consultant is selling something to the candidate…The confidence game is that the candidate is always a little afraid. They’re always a little scared they can lose, and that’s what the consultant exploits. In the words of a consultant,”there’s ‘nothing better than a scared, rich candidate’.” With the amount of money available to candidates in Glendale, there were scared, rich candidates. They were ripe to buy what their consultants were selling and they had the money to do it. In the end, it may have been the content of the candidates’ character, not inordinate amounts of cash that counted to voters the most.

© Joyce Clark, 2016        

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.

This morning in checking the latest edition of the Glendale Star I noted a story that Sammy Chavira had received a speeding ticket in Glendale. That, however, it not what caught my attention. Rather it was that Sammy failed to appear for his court date resulting in additional fines and a suspension of his driver’s license and vehicle registration. Here is the link to the online story: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_396a5ba0-0bbd-11e6-aeb2-e79ffa40b720.html

It seems as if Sammy Chavira and recalled councilmember Gary Sherwood are brothers under the skin. Gary Sherwood was recalled after it was discovered that he had received at least one speeding ticket, allegedly continued to drive while under suspension (criminal offense) and he failed to appear in court. Subsequently a warrant for his arrest was issued for his Failure to Appear. That wasn’t the only reason for his recall. There were others such as his lack of representation of his constituency on the Becker Billboard issue, etc.

Sammy is apparently following in his buddy’s footsteps. Here are the facts as publicly available from court records:

  • Chavira w car 2On Sunday, March 13, 2016 Sammy received a speeding ticket (civil traffic citation) in Glendale. Apparently he was in a minor traffic accident. A Glendale officer was called to the scene and the officer determined that the cause of the accident was due to Sammy’s “speed too fast to avoid collision.”
  • His date to appear in Glendale City Court was Wednesday, April 13, 2016.  According to the court record he failed to appear. Since Sammy’s citation was civil, no arrest warrant would be issued for his failure to appear in court.
  • His case was turned over to the court’s collection agency, FARE, and fines were imposed and started to mount.
  • The court also sent a notice to ADOT and a letter to Sammy suspending his driver’s license and vehicle registration. The vehicle is not registered to Sammy although he has been driving it for quite some time.
  • On Monday, April 25, 2016, Sammy apparently received his letter from the court and paid his fines, now at $408.

In the spirit of full disclosure I had two speeding tickets issued to me in Glendale…one was 20 years ago and the other 15 years ago. I paid my fine and attended the one day of traffic school in each case and I was done. No points on my license, a painful fine and an even more painful day in traffic school.

Sammy could have done the very same. Does Sammy think that the law doesn’t apply to him? First is his issue of his nearly $25,000 in questionable travel expenses and now a Failure to Appear for his court date.

A pattern demonstrating Sammy’s less than ethical behavior has emerged. First in the pattern is his apparent abuse of taxpayer money in his councilmember discretionary accounts. He used taxpayer dollars to go to Washington, D.C. to see the Pope and on another trip to D.C. to see a friend sworn in to Congress. Yet city policy, as lax as it is, requires that substantial, official city business be conducted.

This time he received a civil traffic ticket and failed to appear for his court hearing. Sammy’s response to being queried by the Glendale Star is typical Sammy when he responds with, “A glitch, I’m all good.” I don’t know about you but when I received my speeding tickets 20 years ago, I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t consider it a “glitch.” I couldn’t pay my fine and go to driving school fast enough.

Sammy also questioned why his ticket would be a news story. He still doesn’t get it. Elected officials, the visible leaders of our community and the highest representatives of Glendale, are and should be, held to a higher standard. Their decisions and behavior should be beyond reproach and should be examples of ethics and morals to emulate.

Sammy’s unethical behavior coupled with the urging of many people disgusted with his inaccessibility and lack of responsiveness as a councilmember were prime motivators for my decision to run for the Yucca district city council position. I can, and will, restore honesty and integrity to the position. No more voting for large campaign contributors’ issues. No more flip-flopping on campaign promises. No more following a personal agenda. No more looking to see what’s in it for me. No more repeated absences from council meetings. No more invisible councilmember. No more personal trips using taxpayer money and then claiming city business.

In other words, NO MORE SAMMY.

Below is the actual court record, a public document obtained from the online Arizona supreme court website:

         
Case Number: M-0747-TR-2016006290  
Title: ST OF AZ VS CHAVIRA SAMUEL UL Category: Traffic
Court: Glendale Municipal Filing Date: 3/15/2016
Judge: J BAXTER Disposition Date: 4/20/2016 
       
Citation Count Description Disp. Date Disposition
C00000000905382 1 SPEED GREATER THAN REASONABLE AND PRUDENT 4/20/2016 FAILURE TO APPEAR
Date Description Party
4/21/2016 FARE: COLLECTION LTR TYPE 1 D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: 2012 SURCHARGES (83%) D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: VICTIM RIGHTS ENF ASSMNT D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: COURT IMPROV-BASE D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: DEFAULT FEE $45 031602 D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: 2011 ADDTNL ASSESSMENT D 1
4/20/2016 SUSPENSION LETTER SENT D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: FARE DELINQUENCY FEE D 1
4/20/2016 FUND:PROBATION ASSESSMENT D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: FARE FEE SPEC COLL D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: TIME PYMT $20 JCEF D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: CRT IMPROVE SURCH 83% D 1
4/20/2016 FUND: BASE FINE D 1
4/20/2016 INFO: ASSIGNED TO FARE D 1
4/13/2016 CAL: ARRAIGNMENT-CIVIL TRAFFIC
3/15/2016 COMPLAINT FILED-UNIFORM CITATN D 1
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