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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Foothills Library Update: All three commissions, Arts, Library and Parks & Recreation, having met this week have voted to disapprove the proposal to sell the Foothills Library. Their recommendations will be presented to the city council at the March 3, 2015 workshop.

It seems Councilmember Gary Sherwood requested formal meetings by going through the council office to set up appointments with Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff and Councilmember Bart Turner. The upshot of each meeting was that Sherwood advised each of them that he would be monitoring their performance and would, at some future date, critique them. How’s that for chutzpah? Coming from a councilmember with two years of experience, under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office for alleged Open Meeting Law violations and now facing recall from office. From all accounts he did not meet in a “mentoring mode” but rather to put them on notice that he would be watching them. Are you astounded? I have never heard of such behavior. I expect each of them advised him to not let the door hit him on his way out.

Sherwood also announced at his district meeting held on February 26, 2015 that he would be meeting with Kathleen Goeppinger, head of Midwestern University to explore the idea of allowing Midwestern to build an addition to Foothills Library for Midwestern’s use. He couldn’t be offering this idea to gain support from Goeppinger for Becker billboards (or perhaps hit her up for a campaign donation to his recall campaign), could he? At the last billboard go-around Goeppinger was on record as being opposed. Sherwood’s habit and pattern seems to be to insert himself into situations, in an attempt to broker deals. Isn’t that an administrative function best left to Glendale staff? Aren’t his actions in trying to broker the arena management agreement enough of a warning that perhaps he shouldn’t participate in such activities? Mayor Weiers, representing all of Glendale or Cholla district Councilmember Tolmachoff where the library is located should be none too happy about Sherwood’s insertion of himself into the situation.

Councilmember Bart Turner had a turnout of about 100 people at his district meeting. Councilmember Sherwood had about 30 people. Some of the Sherwood attendees questioned his position on issues, commented on his non-responsiveness to his constituents’ concerns and infrequency of his district meetings (last one was about a year ago). Perhaps before Sherwood tells other councilmembers how to do their job, he should clean up his own act.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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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 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.

Who wins? It depends what side you are on and what the ultimate definition of winning means in this instance. No one wins on so many levels. At a time when citizens no longer have full faith and trust in their national government it is disturbing and unfortunate when the same sentiment is directed toward one’s local government.

Senior administration, from City Manager Brenda Fischer on down, failed the residents of Glendale. Their unwillingness to provide full disclosure at the time of the offer to buy is appalling. To this day, we, the residents of Glendale, do not know where the idea of the sale originated. Did someone in Glendale’s senior administration suggest the idea to Midwestern University (MU)? Or as MU states in its initial February 17, 2014 letter, “Considering the current financial constraints on the City of Glendale and the dwindling use of a traditional library, we would like to express our sincere interest in exploring the possibility of a purchase…” How did MU know that there was a “dwindling use?” MU took advantage of “the current financial constraints on the City of Glendale” by low balling and offering an initial $3.4 million dollars for a building that could not be replaced for less than $17 million dollars. MU appears to have jumped at the chance to buy the building at a fire sale price. Their offer and attitude toward a proposed purchase squandered a great deal of good will between it and Glendale residents that had existed for many years.

Glendale’s senior administration lost an opportunity to demonstrate a new way of doing business. This incident reinforced many residents’ belief that attitudes and actions of senior administration has not changed despite the new faces on the senior management team. Where was the immediate disclosure in February of 2014 to council and residents of an offer to purchase the library?

This proposal had been massaged and managed secretly until senior administration thought they had all the pieces in place. Their excuse for failing to disclose was that there was a need for “due diligence.” Yet that diligence failed to take place. Part of that diligence should have been a cost analysis of a future replacement library should it be needed and an economic impact analysis to the entire city of such an action. Where was the plan of exactly how the library would be placed and work effectively in a constrained space? Instead the public was offered conceptual drawings that had no relevance to the actual space and use of the site within the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center (FRAC).

The senior administration lost further credibility in its failure  to act as a neutral presenter of fact. For years, as a councilmember, I asked for the pros and cons of items for consideration. Under the short tenure of former Acting City Manager Horatio Skeete, we actually received that kind of information not all the time, but several times. It was a start and I, for one, was grateful. Now we’re back to square one. Instead of presenting the factual pros and cons of this idea, senior administration turned into a bunch of advertising hacks. There was no neutrality. They appeared to own this idea and worked to sell it to the public.

Why the senior administration exuberance in selling the library? They have visions of all of those dollars dancing in their heads. The sale proceeds would go into the city’s General Fund and senior administrators would have recommended that it be used to retire some of Glendale’s debt. This council, with its propensity to rubber stamp management recommendations, would have followed. Glendale remains deeply in debt and it will continue until they deal with the gorilla in the room…its ongoing, unsustainable debt for such things as the arena management agreement of $15 million dollars a year and the Camelback Park spring training facility debt.

Who are the losers? MU and its reservoir of good will among the residents of Glendale; the senior administrators of Glendale who squandered whatever credibility they had to sell a bad idea; and of course, the general public who failed to receive fair and balanced information. Who wins? The sad fact is that no one wins…no matter what the outcome.

© 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 obtained a copy of the original 1997 contract between the City of Glendale and Midwestern University. Nowhere in the document does it say the city must sell the land to Midwestern as a result of Midwestern’s offer to buy.

In 1997 the city used its Capital Improvement Fund to purchase 3.5 acres for $434,508.15 plus closing costs. I suspect the value of the land has probably doubled over the past 18 years with all of the development of the adjacent area. It is offering $5 million for the land and building.The agreement includes the following stipulations:

  • Should the city stop using the building as a library or wishes to sell the land and building Midwestern can exercise its first option within 120 days to buy the property and building at fair market value.
  • The city must build and operate a library on the site and for no other purpose.
  • The exterior landscaping must match that of Midwestern University and Midwestern was granted the right to review and approve/disapprove the design plan.
  • Midwestern has the right to use the library’s meeting rooms and auditorium without charge and will be provided a separate and private entrance.

What is clear is that Midwestern approached the city with an offer to buy the building and the land. This proposal was not a city initiative. The city does not have to sell to Midwestern. It can continue to operate the library on the property as long as it wishes.

Senior staff, for some unfathomable reason, is trying to put lipstick on this pig in order to sell the idea to the city council and the general public.

Since senior staff seems incapable of saying, “Hell no, we won’t go,” it will be up the citizens of Glendale to make clear that this is an idea that’s dead on arrival.

It is also the perfect time to tell the mayor and city council that as city finances improve, your priority to to restore days and hours to the libraries; to restore the cuts made to the city’s recreational programs; and to focus on the promised construction of the West Branch Library to serve over 30% of Glendale’s population that does not have the same convenient access to a Glendale library as do residents of Glendale’s other districts. Make your voices heard. Glendale’s elected officials occasionally need to be reminded that they represent you.

© 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.

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015 the Glendale city council had a workshop session. On its agenda were 3 items: sale of the Foothills Library building to Midwestern University and its relocation to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center; consideration of council support of a Certificate of Necessity application with the Arizona Department of Health Services for advanced life support ambulance transport services; and council consideration of moving their staff from classified to “at-will” employment.

Let’s begin with agenda item #1, the Foothills Library. Back in 1997 (I was not on city council at that time) the city purchased land from Midwestern University to build the Foothills Library. I do not have the original purchase contract but it was revealed at the workshop that there were restrictions within the purchase contract. Those restrictions included that the city after purchase, could only use the land for governmental purposes and if the city were to sell the land Midwestern not only has the first right of purchase but it also had final say in who could purchase it, if it was not Midwestern.

Apparently Midwestern came to the city in January of 2014 seeking to buy the building and land. The first point of note is that senior staff knew about this a year ago. Why didn’t they notify council immediately? Instead they moved forward with two appraisals of the property; one in March of 2014 valued at $3.4 million dollars and one in July of 2014 valued at $4.7 million dollars. By the time senior staff informed council it was November of 2014, election season and understandably council gave direction to table the item until a new council was seated in January of 2015.

Midwestern is offering $5 million dollars in cash for the purchase of the library and land. Never mind that it cost the city $7.8 million dollars to open the library doors. What about the artwork? Midwestern’s CEO, Kathleen Goeppinger, is an art collector. Every year when the Glendale Arts Council hosts its art show at Sahuaro Ranch, Goeppinger is invited to privately preview and purchase artwork from the show. One of the pieces of artwork at Foothills is the Dale Chilhuly glass art appraised at $400,000, the “Magic Doors” piece proposed for relocation to Velma Teague Library and a mural appraised at $85,000 and logistically unable to be moved. Midwestern wants the Chilhuly art to be included in the sale. The cost to relocate the Chilhuly to another Glendale building is $85,000 to $100,000 and if the building is sold, Glendale needs to retain this one of a kind piece and it’s relocation should be done from the proceeds of the sale.

There are impacts to the Foothills Aquatic and Recreation Center. The space that would be dedicated to the library hosts special interest classes. These would have to be relocated to another Glendale facility. Senior staff estimated (and it will go higher) that it would cost $900,000 to transform the FRAC space to accommodate the library and that includes proposed technology upgrades. City Manager Brenda Fischer got nervous enough to at one point to throw out the idea of expanding FRAC.

Midwestern mandated that this sale be completed by September 15, 2015. When it realized that city council may not be totally on board and was questioned about it further, they said that the city had until the end of 2015.

This is an idea driven totally by Midwestern University; not the city. The city sells the library, moves a much smaller library into FRAC, and retrofits FRAC or even expands it to accommodate the library. Watch all of the sale proceeds being expended to accomplish this move. Whatever proceeds are left go into the city’s General Fund where it can be used for anything…even the city’s sports related debt.

What can you do? Plenty. You can continue to email the mayor and city council about this proposal at:

There is a specially called meeting of the citizens’ Library Advisory Board tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 at the city’s Main Library at 59th Avenue and Brown. Please note: Since this meeting was not properly posted it has been changes. Please make note of the new day and location. The special meeting of the Library Advisory Board is now scheduled for Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6 PM at the Foothills Library.There is a public hearing portion of this meeting. The public, you, can speak at this meeting and voice your opinion on this proposal.

There will be a series of district meetings on this proposal. No dates or locations have been announced to date. When they are I will post them on this blog.

You need to stay aware, be informed and express your opinion to the mayor and council. A wave of non-support from the public should kill this proposal. It’s up to you. If you love your library you are going to have to get involved and fight for it.

© 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.

After the Super Bowl life returns to normal in Glendale and on Tuesday, February 3, the city council will have its first budget workshop at 9 AM and a regular workshop at 1:30 PM. The afternoon workshop has 3 topics, all of which present future implications for its citizens. The 3 agenda items are: Potential relocation of the Foothills Branch Library; Overview of the Certificate of Necessity (CON) Process; and At Will Employment for Mayor and Council Staffing.

Agenda Item 1 on the potential relocation of the Foothills Branch Library is being driven by staff and Midwestern University. Be aware that former Mayor Scruggs is on the Board of Directors of Midwestern. It seems Midwestern has its eye on the Foothills library building and wants to buy it. Naturally, senior management and Midwestern had to come up with a plan to sell this idea to city council.

This council, to date, has not proven itself to be very aggressive in questioning senior staff on issues that come before it. Let’s hope at this workshop they will reverse this trend and question staff vigorously about this proposal. The library would be relocated to the Foothills Recreational and Aquatic Center (FRAC).

Here is where the sale hype comes in. Note that there are no negative points. Senior staff would have everyone think this idea is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Senior staff contends that:

  • There would be increased library hours (matching the hours of the times when the FRAC is open) for the public with 13 additional hours a week
  • Continuation of provision to patrons access to physical books, materials, technology, meeting space, study room space, special interest classes and events, book drop and online ordering capabilities
  • Increase digital material collections and provide a new array of technologies (tablets, green screens, 3-D printer, new desktop computers, enhanced Wi-Fi)
  • Relocation costs covered by transaction revenue
  • Reduced annual operating expenses without eliminating full-time library staff

The carrot Midwestern University dangles, after buying the Foothills library, is an expression of partnership interest for:

  • Continuing to allow community groups to use the meeting rooms
  • A new and potential partnership with an organization dedicated to helping veterans with health related issues
  • Additional special interest health classes
  • The mentoring and tutoring opportunities for youth
  • The sponsorship of free health-related clinics
  • Partnering with use of medical research and health related materials

This scheme deserves thorough and intensive questioning by city council. Just a sampling of questions to be asked are:

  • The Foothills library is 33,500 square feet in size. The FRAC is 69,000 square feet. How much FRAC space will be used by relocation of a 33,500 SF library?
  • Foothills library was specifically built to be technologically adaptable. Why does relocation only offer the possibility of the library’s technological advancement?
  • What are the costs associated with adapting FRAC to meet the needs of a library?
  • What amenities and services at FRAC would be lost to dedicated space for the library?
  • What amenities and services currently offered at Foothills library would be eliminated due to relocation to FRAC?
  • Dale Chihuly is a world renowned glass artisan. One of his latest exhibits was this past winter at the Desert Botanical Gardens. The city has his ‘Moon and Stars’ piece over the main circulation desk. In addition there is an 80-foot mural by Melissa Paxton, Kathy Bradford’s ‘Magic Doors’ to the children’s reading room as well as countless other pieces of fine art throughout the building. Will senior staff agree to a stipulation that all of the art work within and outside the building remain the city’s property, would not be part of the sale and would be relocated to other city properties?
  • The cost to build the Foothills Library itself (without the fixtures within) was $6.1 million dollars. Will senior staff agree to a stipulation that it would not accept a price lower than the original cost to build the facility?
  • Senior staff was directed by city council to identify city property it could sell. Was the Foothills library one of the properties identified for sale? Were Glendale’s Main Library and Velma Teague Library also identified as potential properties that could be sold? Were the 3 libraries identified by and approved by this council as appropriate for sale?
  • The sale of city property was identified as a means of shoring up Glendale’s financial situation. It can be assumed that after paying the costs of relocation of the library and its art work, the balance would be placed in Glendale’s General Fund where it could be used for anything, including the $15 million dollar annual payment to IceArizona for its management of Glendale’s hockey arena. Yet Glendale library system is woefully inadequate to serve a population of 239,000 residents. On certain days various of the libraries are closed and hours at all 3 have been reduced. Will senior staff agree to stipulate that the first priority for any money realized from a sale of Foothills would be utilized to enhance and upgrade the Main Library and Velma Teague? Are they further willing to agree to stipulate that the funds would not be used for sports related debt or activity as well as the media center, Westgate parking garage and the Public Safety Training Facility?

In summary, on the face of it, the proposal to relocate Foothills Library is driven by senior staff and Midwestern University. This is an idea whose time has not come. It does not serve the best interests of Glendale’s residents. Add to this proposal senior staff’s intent to hire an “outside facilitator” (at thousands of dollars, to be sure) to oversee and coordinate a public input process. Phooey…this facilitator will, in reality, try to sell the idea to the general public. Who is kidding who? This proposal should be rejected. I urge all Glendale residents to contact their district councilmembers before Tuesday, February 3, 2015, pose their own questions about this proposal and let them know that they do not support it. Here are their email addresses:

In my next blog we’ll take a look at the other 2 agenda items: The Fire Department’s request for a Certificate of Necessity (CON) and at-will employees for the mayor and council.

© 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.

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