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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

On June 12, 2014 Mike Kenny had an opinion piece in the Glendale Star entitled, Ring the alarm – city once again wants you to foot bill. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/ . Generally I do not agree with Mr. Kenny’s stance on many issues but this time I do.

One sentence stood out, This current city administration banks on two things for survival, and they’re both yours: money and apathy.” The current city council simply cannot stop itself from spending money, your money. The latest example of their inability to reign themselves in is the expenditure, one-time and on-going, for an electronic voting system to be used at 24 council meetings a year. Why? Because they want to assure that you are confused as to who might be the deciding vote on any hotly contested issue…and to relieve Councilmember Chavira’s stress level.

What if there’s not enough in the budget to cover their willingness to spend your money? Not a problem. They will just create a new tax or raise an existent tax. Need money to cover the construction debt and annual management fee for the arena of approximately $27 million a year or the construction debt on Camelback Ranch of $18 million a year?No problem. Just make the temporary sales tax increase permanent. Need money to raise employee salaries? No problem. Just create a new annual licensing fee of $20 on your alarm system or make sure Glendale charges the highest fee in the state for driving school as you try to avoid those points on your record.

Why are 4 councilmembers led by the nose by senior management? Simple, it’s the easier way for them because you, the taxpayer in Glendale, never object. It’s called apathy. I can remember when a bunch of us tried to repeal the sales tax on food. Senior management put together a slick piece of propaganda asking citizens to decide what service(s) to cut if the sales tax on food was eliminated. It was a scare tactic and it worked beautifully. Glendale voters bought city rhetoric.

This time we heard the same scare arguments, i.e., half of Glendale’s staff would be terminated; services would continue to be cut. Those arguments only hold true if citizens allow this council to continue to spend beyond the city’s means. If citizens had demanded council adopt a phased plan of $5 million in cuts per year for 5 years there would be no need for the temporary sales tax to become permanent. Instead it was easier for them to accept Finance Director Duensing’s demands that the temporary sales tax be made permanent now…not in 2017 when it was due to sunset…but now.

This council, with the exception of Mayor Jerry Weiers, has adopted a budget that is not balanced as required by state statute. The budget starts with a $2.7 million deficit. But that’s OK according to senior staff. The money can come from $5 million in Contingency. If Phoenix demands a payment of over $3 million this October, that’s OK too…just take it out of Contingency. But wait…there’s not enough in Contingency to cover both obligations. Well, that’s OK too…just take it out of the Unappropriated Fund Balance (just a slick, new name for what is basically another Contingency account). They play games with your money and by now, you are so confused you can’t figure out what is going on.

Because of citizen apathy you, the Glendale taxpayer, will continue to be “nickled and dimed” to death until you have no more nickels and dimes. What many fail to recognize is that it takes so few of you to have an effect on this council’s financial decisions. Because so few citizens object to anything at council meetings when 20 or 30 citizens show up and speak to an issue council’s sensitivity radar kicks into high gear. Yep. That’s all it takes… 20 or 30 speakers to object. Are there 20 or 30 Glendale residents ready to scream, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?” or will citizen apathy allow this council to spend beyond your means?

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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Lately I have been in a “take no prisoners mode.” Think of Peter Finch as Mr. Beale in the film, Network, when he screams, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!” I am thoroughly disgusted with the lies and subterfuge offered on various Glendale issues masked in a guise of altruism and high-mindedness. Rather than advancing issues that serve the best interests of our community opinions and actions have degenerated into advocacy of personal agendas. Yes, I know “we all do it” and “it’s done all the time,” usually accompanied by an admonishment to be “realistic.” It’s time to call “a spade,” “a spade” and not the PC description of, “a hand-held implement with a sharp-edged, rectangular, metal blade and a long handle used to loosen or break up the upper strata of the earth.”

The Glendale Star is a perfect example. Newspapers once had the reputation of objectivity in their reportage. Like many other time honored values news objectivity has fallen by the wayside.  When it comes to the proposed Tohono O’odham casino the Glendale Star obviously supports it. It is no secret that its Editor, Carolyn Dryer, attended an Alvarez hosted pro-casino meeting as a like-minded individual. There were also TO representatives in attendance. Her editorial choices seem to clearly reflect her bias.

There is a referendum petition in circulation designed to put the recent council vote to reject US Representative Trent Franks’ HB 1410 on Glendale’s fall ballot. By the way, if HB 1410 successfully passes in the US Senate the TO’s proposed casino will die a righteous death. The defeat or passage of HB 1410 is more critical than the public realizes. Make no mistake. If HB 1410 passes there is sure to be more litigation.

The referendum effort is being led by Glendale resident Gary Hirsch, a former city council candidate. Mr. Hirsch’s position is well known as one of the Glendale citizen plaintiffs in a previous lawsuit against the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) proposed casino.

On April 24, 2014 the Glendale Star Editor Dryer published an opinion piece on the casino referendum issue written by Mike Kenny, its Web Editor. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/. Mr. Kenny’s opinion piece is a puff piece signifying “nothing.” I guess if one cannot speak to the issue the next best course of action is to denigrate it.  He refers to the referendum effort and characterizes it as achieving “nothing.” He goes on to say, “Oh, and it’s (council vote) a non-stance that likely has zero implications. It’s highly doubtful our nation’s Senate – if this bill is ever heard – will take into account the opinion of a city that can barely decide what its opinion is.” Really? If that were the case why did Councilmember Alvarez and her minions work so hard to bring it to a council vote? They believe that rejection of HB 1410 by the city in which the proposed casino would be sited would indeed send a strong signal.

What about other personal agendas on this issue? Those councilmembers who hold a pro-casino position appear to have done so for purely personal reasons not because they believe it is in the best interest of Glendale (although they will proclaim so loudly and often). Councilmember Alvarez seems to be in “pay-back” mode. It’s her way of sticking it to councilmembers who she perceives as having “disrespected” her when she first came on board. It’s purely personal and the TO have taken advantage of her vindictiveness. Councilmember Chavira owes Alvarez and the TO big time for their support and endorsement of his candidacy. It appears that their bill has come due and he is making good on his debt. Councilmember Hugh’s pro-casino stance is in contradiction to his usual fiscal conservatism. It’s been heard his wife is driving his pro-casino stance. Water cooler opinion has it that Councilmember Sherwood who ran as an anti-casino council candidate lusts to become Glendale’s next mayor and is expecting substantial financial support from the TO in his run for that office.

So much for decision making in the best interests of already beleaguered city. After all, it’s just politics. Isn’t it time for Glendale residents to say, “They’re mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore?”

© 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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