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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

There is more to Glendale’s good news story of 2017. Honestly, staff and I identified over 100 good news stories. Don’t panic. I am not about to list the entire 100. Let’s start with Glendale in national news:

  • In a Fiscal Times article in February of 2017 Glendale was ranked at 77 out of 116 cities with a population greater than 200,000 for its positive fiscal health
  • In March of 2017 Glendale once again received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for its FY1617 budget document
  • In May of 2017 Trivago, one of the world’s largest online hotel internet search engines, ranked Glendale as the number one emerging tourist destination in the United States
  • In November of 2017 the international digital travel magazine, Trips to Discover, listed Glendale as one of the eight best towns in Arizona to celebrate the Christmas holiday season
  • In November of 2017 a study conducted by Smart Asset found that of the 100 largest cities in the US, Glendale had the 9th largest percent change in median household income from 2015 to 2016, growing by 11.4%. It was also the largest increase in Arizona.

Glendale’s Public Safety often contributed to the overall health, safety and well being of our community. Take a look of a few of their more notable events:

  • In February of 2017 the Fire Department received three new replacement fire pumper trucks and welcomed eight new firefighters to their ranks
  • Since the beginning of 2017, Public Education and Outreach Coordinator Dr. Janet Boberg and the Fire Department Firefighter Fire Pals have taught 137 classes to 3,128 youth and 306 adults.
  • In August of 2017 the Glendale Fire Department hosted an Emergency Preparedness Academy. The class included Basic First Aid, a presentation on Active Shooter, and an exercise in Emergency Readiness.
  • In September of 2017 the Glendale Fire Department offered Compression Only CPR at two Glendale high schools. The department has officially trained more than 25,000 people in Compression Only CPR.
  • In August of 2017 the Glendale Police Department hosted the GPD Teen Academy. School Resource Officers for the Police Department assisted with putting on the weeklong Teen Academy. Students learned about Arizona criminal and traffic law, how to drive police cars, how to shoot handguns, shotguns, and rifles on the range, and practiced handcuffing procedures. They also spent time with the canine unit, detectives, and the bomb unit.
  • In October of 2017 the Glendale Police Department hosted its very first West Valley Aspire Academy this October. The four day overnight leadership camp provided girls ages 14-18 with hands on experience in public safety careers.

Not to be missed was our Economic Development Department:

  • In April of 2017 our Economic Development Department partnered with WESTMARC, Career Connectors, and other West Valley communities to present the first ever West Valley Healthcare Career Expo. Healthcare is one of the city’s fastest growing industries and this event connected current and future workforce with employers and education opportunities.
  • Also in April of 2017 the Economic Development Department partnered with SCORE for the 4th Annual Greater Phoenix SCORE Small Business Symposium. This event focused on providing access to resources and breakout sessions geared toward small business growth and development.

Our Parks and Recreation Department also contributed notably to the recreational health of our community:

  • In March of 2017 there was a rededication of the Heroes Park basketball courts in celebration of the NCAA Final Four    
  • In April of 2017 Parks and Recreation Division began working with the Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ) organization to enter into a new partnership that will result in additional programming opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities, at no cost to the City.
  • In June of 2017 Neighborhood Services and Parks and Recreation departments coordinated Thunderbolt Blitz Day Project along the New River Trail a volunteer project with military people and civilians from Luke Air Force Base as part of their community service day
  • In August of 2017 The Parks and Recreation Division worked with the Arizona Disc Golf Foundation on a new, 18 hole Frisbee disk golf course in the Grand Canal Linear Park between 83rd and 91st
  • In October of 2017 the Park Ranger Division rolled out its “Ranger” K9 program. The focus of this program is to use the city’s new mascot, “Ranger,” to encourage greater public engagement

Citywide some notable events included:

  • Ongoing throughout 2017 the city continued its work on its Strategic Plan
  • Also ongoing throughout 2017 the city continued its participation in the innovative “What Works Cities”
  • In July of 2017 the city and Glendale Chamber of Commerce engaged a Downtown Manager to provide consistent support to our downtown merchants. The emphasis is on creating a healthy, cohesive downtown that can be branded and marketed
  • Also in July of 2017 the Water Billing Department, in partnership with TIO Networks, launched cash only bill payment kiosks in 16 Circle K locations within the City of Glendale; and in August the City of Glendale’s payment system expanded to all TIO kiosks within the State of Arizona
  • In September of 2017 the Citywide LED Conversion Project This project will result in significant annual savings for Glendale. I am proud to note that through my effort this proposed conversion was moved up by several years saving the city approximately half a million dollars a year immediately
  • In November of 2017 another request of mine was accepted to begin a pilot project to recapture under reported collectable residential rental revenue. It, too, is expected to generate approximately a half a million dollars annually

Lastly here are some events that don’t fit into any particular category but are worthy of note:

  • February 19 of 2017 marked the 10 year anniversary of Glendale Police Officer Anthony Holly’s death. Please continue to keep the Holly family in your thoughts
  • In March of 2017 the city successfully hosted NCAA Final Four
  • In June of 2017 the city dedicated a plaque in remembrance of and recognition of Phil Lieberman, longtime councilmember for the Cactus District. He was my friend and I still miss him
  • In October of 2017 Banner Thunderbird Medical Center officially opened the state’s newest Level I Trauma Center
  • In October of 2017 city council approved the allocation of funds to finally build Phase I of the West Branch Library at Heroes Park
  • September of 2017 Airport take offs/landings were 5,832 (16% higher than September 2016). This foreshadows a resurgence of airport growth in the coming year
  • In October of 2017 a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the GUS 2 route reconfiguration.. Also starting in October, Bus Route 83 traveling on 83rd Avenue now travels from South Phoenix up to Arrowhead Towne Center.
  • In December of 2017 Erik Strunk, Director of Parks and Recreation and Special Events, announced that he is leaving the City and becoming the City of Peoria’s newest Assistant City Manager. We wish Erik all the best in this new chapter of his career, and this City is grateful for his top-notch job performance.
  • Effective January 1, 2018 and after 27 years of service, Jon Froke, Planning Director, will be retiring from the City of Glendale. Jon has been a valuable part of the Glendale team and his accomplishments will benefit our community for many years to come

There you have it. These notable events plus many more contributed to making Glendale great again (to borrow a phrase from our current President). Each of these demonstrates a city on the move; a city that embraces innovation; and a city continually striving to improve the quality of life for all residents.

© Joyce Clark, 2018                 

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convention 2Wow! It’s difficult to summarize the 2 1/2 hour, April 2, 2013, Glendale city council workshop into about 1,500 words – but here goes. First up was the city’s Intergovernmental Director, Brent Stoddard, reporting on HB 2657 before the state legislature.  In a nutshell, cities can support 7 provisions of the bill but 3 provisions are in dispute with the state.  The legislature wants the state Department of Revenue (DOR) to collect all sales taxes from all cities in the state. Currently Glendale and 17 others collect their sales taxes, report and remit the state’s portion to the state. Guess the state doesn’t trust those cities. The cities have countered with a proposal to offer a one-stop portal through a third party that would be managed by the DOR. I guess the state doesn’t trust cities to audit businesses either and want to take over that function exclusively as well. The cities have proposed the creation of uniform auditing standards; and the ability to request of and notify the DOR so that a city could still perform the audit. Lastly, the issue of dreaded construction sales tax issue was discussed. It appears that both sides, the state and the cities, are miles apart on this one. No resolution to be had as of this date. Stay tuned for the next chapter on this issue.

Chavira photo

Sam Chavira

Next up was the Police department presentation by Interim Chief Black. Our fearless leader of and advocate for all things Public Safety Councilmember Chavira asked, if the department was adequately staffed to protect residents and keep officers safe. After winnowing through all of the rhetoric, Chief Black reluctantly said, yes by saying, “we are meeting the needs of the community as best we can with the allocated funding.” How’s that for threading the needle?

Chief Black and her department are to be commended for their innovation and creativity. As a result of their reorganization efforts patrol staffing will go from 166 to 182 officers, increasing an officer’s pro-active patrol time from a low of 11 minutes to about 16 minutes per hour. That is phenomenal considering Glendale’s current financial position.  Their adoption of a new CAD system this fall will include an automated vehicle locator on all patrol cars enabling the dispatcher to send the closest available unit. This new system will create fuel cost savings and reduce response times.

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

Naturally, Councilmember Alvarez admitted that she didn’t understand all the numbers and “stuff.” Based upon her Ouija board, she KNOWS that the city’s residents are not well protected, especially in south Glendale, the area in which she lives and which she represents. The heck with the entire city. She went on to say that she didn’t want Chief Black to be a good employee and to work within the city’s fiscal constraints. Alvarez also said “we have to put more officers out there” and we can take dollars from programs that are a luxury. It will be interesting to see what she defines as a luxury.

There was a lot of discussion about the 8 police zones into which the city is currently configured. It seems no one on council could wrap their heads around this concept. What was not communicated is that all zones are not created equally, at least in size. Their dimensions are based on the number of calls for service as well as what makes sense geographically for patrol and response times. The more calls for service in an area, the smaller the zone gets.

Knaack

Yvonne Knaack

Vice Mayor Knaack then said the level of police staffing was “unacceptable.” By whose or what definition?  I guess the fact that our police department in July, 2012, was re-accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement (CALEA) once again and for the first time was awarded the Gold Standard doesn’t mean anything and can be ignored. Really? When pressed by Knaack, Chief Black indicated it would be nice to be at fully authorized strength by adding another 31 officers. Bingo. Yet the police department has $7M as contingency in their public safety sales tax fund. I, like Vice Mayor Knaack, remember distinctly that one of the purposes of this public safety sales tax was to hire more officers.

Fire Chief Burdick’s presentation was interesting for what he said but also for what he did not say. The fire department still holds to a 4 person staffing model on all of its engine and ladder trucks and one is a firefighter/paramedic on each truck. Four men on a truck to answer fire calls is necessary to meet OSHA’s 2-in-2-out law. That mandate makes sense. That means for a working fire, while 2 firefighters are in a building, there are 2 on the outside to make rescue if necessary. Perfectly logical for working fire service calls. True, the number of working fires has increased by 26% due to automatic aid. Are all of those working fires in Glendale? Probably not.

The vast majority of calls are medical (estimate is that they are at least 80% of all calls for service) requiring either advanced life support or basic life support. Why doesn’t the city have smaller vehicles staffed with paramedics?  When a fire unit is dispatched it is told what kind of call to which it is going to respond. Smaller vehicles used for medical calls would be more fuel efficient and cost less to operate and maintain and would not require 4 man units. Or perhaps a medical transport vehicle with 2 Glendale paramedics on board should be sent. There has to be a better, more cost efficient way to respond to medical calls than sending a very big and very expensive fire truck.

Weiers

Jerry Weiers

Mayor Weiers did ask about automatic aid and what was the ratio of calls between Phoenix and Glendale and Peoria and Glendale.  Bravo. Not surprisingly, Chief Burdick didn’t have that information and said he would provide it. This is typical of staff when there is a question that they would rather not answer publicly.  Usually it’s because the answer doesn’t advance their cause. Weiers did bring up another suggestion, the use of an LPN in answering medical calls. The LPN could write prescriptions and make a determination if medical transport was needed.  That idea met with a great deal of resistance by Chief Burdick despite his admission that it is a model being used in Mesa. It could very well be an idea whose time has come. Using a truck that gets 5 miles to the gallon with 4 firefighters/paramedic is no longer cost effective at a time when the majority of calls for service are medical.

Chief Burdick, after this annoying interruption with questions of fact, was then asked by Councilmember Chavira if the department was adequately staffed and if firefighters were safe. Once again, cutting through the rhetoric, his answer was, yes today, quickly followed by a need to address excessive call volume. Whose? Those of Glendale residents? Phoenix residents? Peoria residents? We don’t know because that information was not provided.

Vice Mayor Knaack cut to chase and asked what he needed. Immediately the chief responded with another 15 firefighters and another truck ($650,000 price tag but would pay $65K a year in a lease back). Bingo.

greed 1The councilmembers’ questions certainly fed both departments’ agendas of “gimme more.” And why wouldn’t they? Look at some facts. In the last election cycle both unions, police and fire, supported Weiers, Sherwood, Hugh and Chavira. Vice Mayor Knaack and Councilmember Martinez received the same healthy union support in their last reelection bid in 2010. The police union was a minor player in both elections not having the same political war chest or available personnel as the fire union. The fire union, on the other hand, made sure there were cash contributions by individual, non-Glendale, firefighters to their campaigns, paid for printing and mailing campaign literature and paid for and put up campaign signs for these very same people now deciding to beef up these departments-because staffing levels are “unacceptable.” There is nothing illegal about any of these actions. It’s Politics 101 but it doesn’t serve, you, the taxpayer very well. Perhaps the parks and recreation people or the finance people need a union to level the playing field.

Sherwood

Gary Sherwood

Under Council Items of Special Interest, Councilmember Sherwood called for starting a search for a permanent City Attorney. What was truly mind-boggling was Councilmember Alvarez’ request that the City submit grant applications to the Tohono O’odham tribe for Public Safety dollars. What about we are still in litigation with the TO doesn’t she understand? When one is in a legally adversarial position with another, one does not ask for handouts from his adversary. She also thinks the city is mean and nasty because it owns the web page for the West Valley Resort and the TO has to pay the city annually for the right to use it. It is true. Congratulations to the city for pulling such a wonderfully, snarky yet brilliant move.

Council then adjourned into Executive session. Topics up for discussion: external audit, arena RFP, compensation for departing City Attorney and compensation for the new Interim City Manager. I suspect we will find out the results in a day or two.

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