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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 17 years and 171 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I have not only read Glendale’s motion but printed it out. Here is the link if you wish to read the motion: City of Glendale motion June 18 2015 . I have read and reread the motion several times. I suggest that you pay particular attention to the footnotes. In some aspects they are as revelatory as the emails provided in the brief.

Glendale could not have chosen a better attorney to represent its interests in its decision to cancel its contract with IceArizona and subsequent litigation. Here is a link to Cynthia Ricketts’ biography: http://sacksrickettscase.com/our-team/cynthia-a-ricketts/ . She is well respected by her peers and has extensive expertise in the area of litigation that the city requires.

If you noted in state statute A.R.S. § 38-511 it refers to any person “significantly involved in initiating, negotiating, securing, drafting or creating of documents.” Many have focused on the word “negotiating” especially with reference to Julie Frisoni. Please go to Frisoni’s PR website (http://www.frisonipr.com/whoweare/). This is a direct quote from her site, “Crisis communications, including NHL Coyotes negotiations and the near bankruptcy of a city.” It appears that Ms. Frisoni can’t have it both ways. There seems to be a conflict (no pun intended) between her claim on her website citing experience in “NHL Coyotes negotiations” and her recent public denials that she was merely a Communications Director.

Based upon my personal experience as a councilmember from 2000 through 2012 Ms. Frisoni was a close confidant of Ed Beasley, former City Manager, and Craig Tindall, former City Attorney. I did not have a great deal of interaction with Ms. Frisoni for I lacked trust in her. While she may or may not have had a hand in direct, face-to-face negotiations of the currently cancelled contract it appears quite evident that she played an essential role in securing (and insuring) council approval of the contract.

Prior to the contract’s approval by city council, on June 26, 2013, she sent talking points in support of the contract to Councilmember Chavira. In fact, Councilmember Chavira, one of only 2 council votes (the other being Sherwood) that did not support the recent vote to cancel the contract, is using many of those same talking points in his current Glendale Today show on Glendale’s Channel 11. Frisoni also sent an email on June 30, 2013, to the four councilmembers in support of the contract with IceArizona: Councilmembers Sherwood, Chavira, Knaack and Martinez. She seems to have deliberately omitted those that did not support it. In that email she passes on Jeff Teetsel’s (Westgate manager) arguments supporting passage of the contract.

I am quite unhappy with the alleged actions of former city attorney Craig Tindall. When city council originally hired him I was quite pleased. He appeared to be competent and articulate. In 2011 I began to hear rumors that he was supportive of an outside group interested in buying the Coyotes. Back then no one could or would tell me who the group was. Reading the emails between him and Anthony LeBlanc, one of the current Coyotes owners, I was unaware of their obviously close relationship dating back to at least 2010.  Little did anyone know they were meeting at their “usual starbucks.” It is now very difficult to accept the current parsing of words in an effort to minimize Tindall’s involvement in negotiating the IceArizona contract. It appears he was involved up to his lips.

It made me recall an incident at the end of 2012. The city was in the process of negotiation with a Coyotes team purchaser, Greg Jamison. I called Mr. Tindall with some technical questions about the deal. Cryptically, at the end of our telephonic conversation he remarked that if the Jamison deal didn’t make there was another group waiting in the wings. When I asked who, he refused to respond. In hindsight it now makes perfect sense but it raises more questions for me. I remember Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete telling me that Tindall appeared to be stalling and would hold Jamison documents on his desk for days. Skeete would make repeated requests for them which eventually would be fulfilled. Did Tindall deliberately sabotage the Jamison deal in an attempt to make available the opportunity for LeBlanc, et. al.? I honestly don’t know. You will have to decide for yourselves.

Tindall’s seeming self dealing is quite disappointing. As far back as April of 2010 in an email exchange between Daryl Jones of Ice Edge (precursor to IceArizona) Jones says they enjoyed working with Tindall and Tindall responds with “Now that’s an offer.” Was that Tindall’s subtle signal that he was angling for a job with them? Who knows? You decide. Or what about Tindall’s March, 2011, email exchange with LeBlanc urging LeBlanc to take a look at investing in a local medical device company? That action would seem to reinforce the notion that they had a close relationship. Or how about LeBlanc’s asking Tindall in October of 2011 if it was time to have a “confidential chat with Ed” (Beasley) as well as an email exchange between Tindall and LeBlanc about LeBlanc’s May, 2010 meeting with Steve E(llman)? What were these all about? We now know that LeBlanc wanted to buy the Coyotes even before the Jamison offer. We now know through more emails of Tindall’s effort to break a roadblock on July 26, 2013 (after the contract is approved) regarding the city’s paying IceArizona’s lenders directly? He emailed the newly hired City Manager (now former City Manager) Brenda Fischer apparently asserting that it was a simple administrative matter and appears to be urging her to take action.

The email exchange between former Mayor Scruggs and former City Manager Beasley are revealing as well. It appears as if the mayor was determined to get LeBlanc’s Lakehead Yale Sports Holding LLC “Plan B” before the city council in March of 2012. Once again Tindall’s name comes up when she says, “I have checked with Craig Tindall and Mr. LeBlanc’s letter is eligible for discussion under the items as posted.” Tindall seemed to be advocating for any LeBlanc deal.

The emails provided in the city’s motion to modify the Temporary Restraining Order are troubling. They are facts. They are the words of the principals involved. They are damning and not easily explained away.

I end with excepts from an email memo to the entire city council dated June 25, 2013 (a few weeks before council approval) from then Interim City Manager Dick Bowers:

  • “Contrary to what might appear in the papers I don’t see this as a ‘done deal’. Far from it. Discussions continued over the weekend and we have come only slightly closer to comfortable than before. Gary B(irnbaum) has helped to illustrate to the Renaissance group’s (eventually IceArizona) attorney the concerns we have. I suspect this has given them a degree of discomfort.”
  • “Glendale cannot afford a failure. The potential of failure exists as a dark shadow in the absence of the investors standing by their own numbers with confidence enough to simply take them for themselves and do the deal for 6.5.”
  • “While there are many ways to describe the Renaissance’s reluctance I keep coming back to that same discomfort of Glendale having all the risk in this deal. My concerns could mean nothing or they could represent an existential question that must be considered. Will this work for the benefit of the City of Glendale and what makes us firmly believe that it will?”

Mr. Bowers’ crystal ball was certainly working that day yet a few weeks later, 4 councilmembers, Yvonne Knaack, Manny Martinez, Gary Sherwood and Sammy Chavira voted in favor of the IceArizona lease management deal. I can understand Sherwood and Chavira’s approval votes. They appear to have been blindly joined at the hip with each other as well as IceArizona. The pro votes of Knaack and Martinez are not so easily understood. Each cited the well being of Westgate as a motivator for their decisions. It is troubling that they appear to have put the well being of Westgate over the well being of the City of Glendale. Why did they not heed the words of Interim City Manager Bowers?

No matter. What’s done is done. The discovery of Tindall’s and Frisoni’s actions provide the city with an opportunity to rectify one source of its annual bleeding…whether one uses $15M or $8.7M a year as the loss figure for the city. Many point to the annual debt payment for the Camelback Ranch Spring Training Facility (CRSTF). They say why focus on the arena when CRSTF is just as much of a financial drain. It is. I suspect in due time that financial albatross will be addressed. Development that should have occurred surrounding this facility never materialized as a result of the national recession. Without any promise of current economic development it is an issue the city must address in light of the fact that this council continues to fail to rein in city expenditures.

The pity of it all is the devastation caused to the coaches and players of the Coyotes team. They have been through so much since Moyes declared bankruptcy in 2009. None of it was of their making. They have become undeserved collateral damage. I hope and pray that their futures will once again become whole and they can take pride in playing under the Coyotes banner.

© 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.

City Manager Brenda Fischer announced that effective March 3, 2014 Julie Frisoni and Jennifer Campbell will become Assistant City Managers in Glendale. Let’s begin this exercise by reviewing the Human Resources requirements for the position. As of July 1, 2008 the last time the position was reviewed it required a “Master’s Degree in Public Administration, Business Administration, Management, or a related field and ten years of progressively responsible administrative experience in a municipal government organization with five of those years being in a municipal management position. Any equivalent combination of training and experience that provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities, is qualifying.”

Jennifer Campbell has a master’s of education degree with an emphasis in leadership and public administration from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from Arizona State University. Campbell has more than 16 years in municipal government positions at the Cities of Peoria and Goodyear and, most recently, at the City of Maricopa as community services director.

Frisoni holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arizona State University and since 2002 (12 years) has worked for Glendale rising to Executive Director of Communications and Marketing. You will note that a master’s AND a minimum of ten years experience is required. Frisoni may have the years but she has no master’s.

Some will make the case that they are qualified due to the numbers of years of experience each has accrued for it certainly won’t be due to their educational qualifications as neither has a master’s in the requisite areas of public administration, business administration or management. It will be argued that both meet the minimum qualifications with a combination of training and experience. They may or may not but the kind of experience that both have amassed is of consideration.

Their Assistant City Manager functions include:

  • Provides administrative direction to the Deputy City Managers for their areas of responsibility in working towards the achievement of goals for the individual department(s) and the City of Glendale.
  • Manages the daily operations for the City of Glendale.
  • Serves as a member of the City’s top management team in establishing and maintaining good management policies and procedures.
  • Reviews the activities of the general operation to determine efficiency; confers and assists the City Manager in formulating a business strategy.
  • Advises the City Manager of issues and operational progress through oral and written reports.
  • Interprets and implements policies received from the City Manager and the City Council.  Provides administrative direction and support to staff in analyzing, developing, implementing and evaluating policies, programs and procedures.
  • Advises staff on major projects and in resolving conflicts and problems.
  • Represents and supports the policies of the city to members of the public, press, and civic groups.
  • Represent the City Manager during his/her absence.
  • Reviews annual city budget and makes recommendations to the City Manager

 “With these two appointments, the city is continuing to embark upon a continued direction of stability in our senior management organizational structure with seasoned professionals who have demonstrated a dedication to serving the public,” said Fischer. “Both Ms. Frisoni and Ms. Campbell share my vision and approach to local government management, including fiscal responsibility, open and transparent government, collaboration and excellent communication skills.”

The stage is now set and the cast of characters complete. At the helm is Brenda Fischer from the Town of Maricopa. Directly under her is Jennifer Campbell from the Town of Maricopa and Julie Frisoni, a member of former City Manager Ed Beasley’s “inner circle.” To round things out Michael Bailey is the new City Attorney. Bailey had or has close ties to former City Attorney Craig Tindall who sent the alleged and now infamous email solicitation on a city computer requesting consideration of his son when making a school tuition tax deductible donation. One of those on his recipient list was none other than…Michael Bailey. Add to this mix the new Executive Director of Finance, Tom Duensing, who also comes from the Town of Maricopa. The consolidation of power continues. Fischer has surrounded herself with former allies from Maricopa and others with ties to former City Manager regime. Those who have demonstrated records of competence and expertise, such as Stuart Kent, Jon Froke and Erik Strunk, are ignored. Palace intrigue has a new home and off with the heads of anyone who dares to challenge their agenda.

More disturbing is that these actions signal the end of an era in Glendale. For the 46 years that I have lived in Glendale, even when it experienced tremendous growth, it still retained a small, intimate hometown atmosphere. A good example is citizen volunteerism for city Boards and Commissions. For years council had no problem filling those positions and often had a waiting list. Why? Because people felt that they had the power to actually effectuate change. Their councilmembers and senior management staff were accessible to them and very responsive. They were not necessarily satisfied every time but response was immediate. There was a genuine connection between those who ran the city and those who lived in the city. Senior management staff often had lived in the city for years and had developed strong roots and a genuine interest in their community. All of that is gone. Today we have citizens with no deep ties to Glendale, expecting to move on because of job circumstances, familial reasons or simply with an itch to go someplace new to them. There is no cultivation of appreciation for Glendale and what it means in their lives. There is no waiting list to serve on a Board or Commission any longer. In fact, some volunteer positions go unfilled for extended periods of time.

Today we have senior management in positions of leadership with no historical memory of Glendale. You can see it when Tom Duensing is asked about transfers in previous years from the arts fund into the general fund and he has no clue, responding that he will have to get back to council after he has done some research on the issue. Gone are the Charlie McClendons, Paula Illardos, Grant Andersons, Jim Devines, David Prescotts, Ken Reedys, Rodeane Widoms, Lillian Hamiltons…who had a genuine love of Glendale, deep roots and vast historical memory.

Now those running Glendale consider it a “business.” The bottom line is paramount without any genuine sensitivity for how their decisions will impact the quality of life of its residents. Yes, they will probably dig Glendale out of its current fiscal crisis but at what cost to the heart and soul of a once great city renowned for its connection to its residents?

What about the current city council? So far they have abdicated their leadership roles to senior staff as they appear unable to come to grips with the fiscal crisis. Mayor Weiers tailors his actions to a reelection bid. Vice Mayor Knaack attempts to appease all. Councilmember Sherwood embraces the new “business” model. Councilmember Chavira is silent. Councilmember Alvarez is full of bitterness and negativism. Councilmember Hugh damaged by his close ties to Alvarez is ineffectual. Councilmember Martinez, as a lone voice, has flashes of remembrance of the essence of Glendale. None question or challenge deeply allowing themselves to be swept by the tide of fear that engulfs them. After all, it far easier to let senior staff make the decisions and simply accede to their recommendations. Ultimately council is responsible for the demise of Glendale as long time residents have known it and loved it. It is sad and deeply disappointing to watch events unfold. That is not to say change should not be embraced for change is necessary to survive. Will it be done with sensitivity and a velvet glove or bludgeon the city with a sledge hammer?

© 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.

When a politician or someone of note has a story about him or her on a Friday, he or she should thank the news media profusely. The general thinking is that a story run on a Friday before a weekend when readers are preoccupied by weekend fun will be rapidly forgotten. It’s a ploy that has been used for years. This time it may not work as well as expected. This story will not fade away and will continue to smolder much like a hay fire burning itself out.

Paul Giblin and Craig Harris wrote a piece in the Friday, January 31, 2014 edition of the Arizona Republic relating possible ethics violations by former Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall entitled “Ethics questions hit ex-Glendale city attorney.” It relates that Tindall attempted to solicit a state income tax credit for his son’s tuition at a private school. He used a city computer to do so. Reportedly he sent his solicitation to at least 40 people. They included:

  • Former City Manager Ed Beasley
  • Former Deputy City Manager Art Lynch
  • Fire Chief Mark Burdick
  • Current Interim Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni
  • Lobbyist Gary Husk (who recently received probation and community service from the court)
  • Chip Scutari, public relations
  • Lynne Greene, Renaissance Hotel General Manager
  • Peter Sullivan, University of Phoenix executive
  • Jim Foss, Jobing.com  executive
  • Attorney Aaron Cain, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Andrew Federhar, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Sharon Oscar, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Cathy Reece, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Sarah Strunk, Fennemore Craig
  • Attorney Christian Beams, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney Michael Moberly, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney William Wilder, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite
  • Attorney Former U.S. Rep. John Shadegg, Steptoe & Johnson
  • Attorney Jordan Rose, Rose Law Group
  • Attorney Nicholas Wood, Snell & Wilmer
  • Former Coyotes owner, Steve Ellman
  • Coyotes President Mike Nealy
  • John MacDonald and his wife, Dana Paschke, lobbyists for Glendale
  • Former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Jose de Jesus Rivera, Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally

Obviously this is not a complete list. Tindall contends that he was doing a public service by providing information about the state income tax credit for school tuition yet reportedly he happened to mention his son as a possible recipient several times in his “informational emailing.”

You should have problems with his actions if for no other reason than he used a city computer to send what was essentially a personal message/solicitation. One of the first “no-nos” that every city employee learns is that the city equipment, including use of a city computer is for city business only. Tindall and members of his staff taught city ethics to various employee groups and would be very conversant with this restriction.

Hackles should go up at the thought that his very selective recipient list included a lot of people with which Glendale did business. They were put in an awkward position. Would their non-responsiveness hurt them in securing further business from the city? Would their support garner them further business with the city?

Jose de Jesus Rivera, one of Tindall’s email recipients, just happened to secure the contract to conduct the external audit at a cost of over half a million dollars and in one Rivera email response even asked if the RFP for the contract had been released.  Hmmm.

Tindall’s questionable action serves to highlight the web of relationships within the City of Glendale before Ed Beasley’s retirement. Lynch, Burdick and Frisoni were all confidants of former City Manager Ed Beasley. Some of these people had no problem supporting Tindall in his quest to become Interim City Manager by trashing former Assistant City Manager Horatio Skeete who prevailed in securing the job.

It leads to another troubling issue regarding Tindall’s employment. From 2009 until IceArizona’s successful bid to secure the Jobing.com arena management contract Tindall was the city’s attorney. He was privy to the nuances of EVERY deal that came before the city. When he left city employ he spent a brief month at a private law firm before being hired as General Counsel for none other than…can you guess? IceArizona! Several people, including former Councilmember Phil Lieberman, have questioned whether his extensive insider knowledge led to the demise of the Greg Jamison bid and the success of IceArizona. Who knows? We may find out someday…but that “someday” could be just a smidge closer. Lieberman filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office about the propriety of Tindall’s dual employment for several months continuing to advise the city while being employed by IceArizona. We will have to wait and see if it comes of anything but I’m not holding my breath on this one.

The media’s reporting of Tindall’s problematic judgment and self-serving actions brings into question everything he did, every decision that he made during his years as City Attorney. One that comes to mind is his decision to reject just enough voter ballots in the Goulette-Bohart contest for the Ocotillo council district seat resulting in Goulette’s victory. Or his decision to release the audit information about the city’s trust funds at the very same time he was vying to become Interim City Manager should give you pause. Or the extent of his involvement with pro-sales tax increase groups working to defeat the citizen initiative driven election to kill the temporary sales tax increase?

Tindall was viewed as smart, pleasant and competent by some but as the layers begin to fall away we may begin to see a different view…one not so smart, pleasant and competent.

I will be releasing another blog later today with some other interesting tidbits that have been passed on to me as well as the latest Bidwill blast.

I have posted a new, informal poll about Tindall to the left of this column and as usual, if you would like to know when my next blog is posted you can sign up via an email alert to the right of this column. 65% of the responses to my last poll regarding the health of Glendale’s finances said they did not believe that Glendale could straighten out its financial mess.

© 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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