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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

This first story is in keeping with the spirit of the Christmas season. Right after Thanksgiving a Phoenix hiking group erected a 15-foot Christmas tree at the summit of Camelback Mountain. Within a day someone had cut the tree’s top half down and stole it. Park rangers removed the bottom half instantly. Phoenix (the Grinch of this story) has a “leave no trace” policy in its parks and refused to allow the group to replace the tree. After discussions with the group, Phoenix relented and will allow the Christmas tree to be up for a month. Here is the link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2016/12/02/camelback-mountain-new-christmas-tree/94826794/ hootPostID=e6b4bacfb975fca570a98e83f2a0f9f3 . A win win solution for everyone showing that even a Grinch can have a heart. Good for you, Phoenix.

Not so with Glendale. Tony Escamillo erected a United States flag at the summit of Thunderbird Mountain Park symbolic of our national pride and out of his love of country. It keeps getting removed. By whom? None other than the City of Glendale. Another Grinch identified. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken and this could be one of those ‘sometimes’. Come on, Glendale, make this an exception. Perhaps there is a reader out there who will start a Go Fund Me account for permanent placement of our country’s flag on Glendale’s one and only mountain top. Here is a link to this story: https://www.facebook.com/FOX10Phoenix/videos/1188934381155107/?pnref=story .

The next story is a cautionary tale for Glendale’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Experience Scottsdale (previously known as the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau) was audited this year. Here is a link to that story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2016/12/01/city-tourism-audit-ciritical-experience-scottsdales-high-pay-lack-focus-city/94353844/ . The major thrust of the audit was on Experience Scottsdale’s executive salaries. At the present time that is not an issue for the Glendale CVB and is irrelevant but some of its other findings are worth paying attention to.

This group receives half of Scottsdale’s hotel-sales-tax collections each year, amounting to about $9.4 million in fiscal year 2016. Glendale also allocates a portion of its bed-hotel-sales tax collections to its CVB. Currently, $30,000 of its total hotel-bed-sales tax will be used to promote the Civic Center. While Glendale’s hotel bed-sales-tax numbers are not as grand as those of Scottsdale with its bounty of hotels, especially high-end ones as more hotels come on line in Glendale, that bed-sales-tax number will become more significant.

Scottsdale’s audit report discovered that of the 536 convention bookings, only 297 were actually on Scottsdale properties. In another instance, the Scottsdale CVB reported 167,000 room nights as a result of the conventions booked. Actual room nights in Scottsdale proper were about half that number, 84,000.

The Scottsdale CVB has 411 members but 180 of its members, or a little less than half, are outside of Scottsdale so the benefits to its members do not translate as exclusive benefits for Scottsdale businesses. The Scottsdale CVB reported 2.6 million visitors to its website but failed to account for repeat visitors in that reported number. The audit revealed the economic impact related to visitor inquiries at Experience Scottsdale around $262 million, about 16 percent less than the figure reported by the CVB.

The Scottsdale audit recommended that its CVB set annual goals based on the previous year’s results; that it prioritizes Scottsdale-based businesses; and that it annually submits documentation that verifies its performance claims. That sure does sound like a strategy the Glendale city council should adopt.

The last story is about Buckeye and is in the ‘what in the world?’ category. In April of 2015, about a year and half ago, Buckeye purchased Global Water Resources for $55 million dollars. The deal was touted as being more efficient. Residents were assured that current customer water rates were sufficient to cover the expense of the acquisition over a 20 year period. The city said that opening up the areas previously served by Global would generate new development. It said there would be new sales tax, property tax and employment as a result of the enhanced water system. Here is the link to the original 2015 story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/southwest-valley/2015/04/06/buckeye-adds-new-water-customers-promises-benefits/25269607/ .

Obviously something went terribly wrong. Over the past few months suddenly Buckeye water customers have had bills that spiked – upwards of $400, and some as high as $1,400. There is nothing that makes a resident sit up and take notice more than an issue that hits the pocket book and this surely did just that. Residents made noise and filed complaints with the city. Nothing has happened except for the sound of crickets chirping.  On November 22, 2016 residents had had enough of the city’s inaction and so filed a recall petition against Mayor Jackie Meck. Here is a link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/southwest-valley/2016/11/30/high-water-bills-prompt-recall-effort-buckeye-mayor/94634980/ .

Meck, in response, acknowledged “some growing pains” as a result of the city’s purchase of Global. What might they be, Mayor Meck and why haven’t you shared them with your residents? More crickets chirping. It has been my experience that a city’s mayor knows exactly what’s going on with everything even remotely city-related. Meck says he’s “working on it” but it’s a little late for Meck to suddenly play dumb.

Jackie Meck has been around for a long time and seems to represent the good ole boys of Buckeye. His response has been to say, “I have lived in Buckeye all of my life. Through it all we have never gone through a recall. It is not how we have settled our differences.” It appears that Meck is ignoring his residents at his peril. Didn’t we all just experience something similar on a national level as the Democrats ignored their core constituency of the working class resulting in their election losses? It would seem that anyone running against Meck this time around has a good chance of unseating him (despite his recent August reelection victory) for it’s obvious that there are a lot of angry Buckeye water customers out there and they, too, are being ignored. They just may express their anger and frustration through the ballot box as well.

© Joyce Clark, 2016        

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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 ‘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.

It has been 17 years and 175 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Sometimes Glendale city council meetings can only be described as mind boggling and l-o-n-g. The June 23, 2015 meeting was nearly 5 hours in length. Here is the link: http://glendale-az.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2305 .

Public comment has once again has been placed at the front of the meeting. There were many citizen speakers that night. To a man/woman all spoke in support of the four city councilmembers who may face recall: Councilmembers Aldama, Hugh, Tolmachoff and Turner. Some of the speakers were notable and recounted below. 

It’s important to note there are two, distinctly separate recall efforts occurring in Glendale. One is the recall election of Councilmember Gary Sherwood with that election already scheduled for November 3, 2015 in the Sahuaro district only. The reasons for his recall are unrelated to the recent vote to cancel the Coyotes contract and are best summed up by the Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood Committee at this link: http://www.stopsherwood.com/index.html .

The most recent media reports of recalls center around the councilmembers who voted to cancel the arena lease management agreement with IceArizona, owners of the Coyotes. It’s a totally different situation and the two recall actions should not be confused or lumped together. Very recent recall packets have been taken out on 2 of the councilmembers thus far, Councilmember Tolmachoff and Councilmember Turner. The petition packets have not been turned into the city as the group has just begun its effort and have until October 7, 2015 to turn in recall petition signatures. Glendale First is the sponsoring organization cited on these two political committee filings. Larry Feiner, a Glendale resident of the Cholla district, is one of Glendale First’s spokespersons and he is also involved in Desert Hockey Development with Bea Wyatt and George Fallar. Mr. Feiner and Ms. Wyatt seem to be the two main spokespersons for this latest series of recalls. Even though the sponsoring organization is Glendale First, Glendale residents and hockey fans residing within specific districts filed the organizational political committee paperwork. In this case, Bill and Jennifer Eikost, residents of the Glendale Cholla district, filed as a political committee and pulled the recall packet on Tolmachoff. Ben Shroyer and Paul Miller, residents of the Sahuaro district, did the same on Turner. Make no mistake. These folks are integral members of an avid Coyote fan base and have been involved with Glendale First since its inception.

Glendale First, led by Bea Wyatt and George Fallar of Cave Creek, is angry because in a majority vote of 5 to 2 this council voted to cancel the annual $15M lease management contract with the Coyotes. It raises the possibility of the team’s possible relocation elsewhere after all litigation is resolved. Obviously Glendale First dare not use as its sole reason for recall its anger with this council vote when a recent poll showed that over 50% of Glendale’s residents support the council’s action. So they have manufactured another reason. Their smoke screen reason is that council did not reduce the amount of money going into the city’s unappropriated fund balance (rainy day fund). They contend the money should be used for public safety immediately.

By public safety let’s call it what it is…the fire union. Fire wants more money and lots of it. They point to slow emergency response times but fail to mention two very important facts: 1. The Glendale Fire Department is accredited and meets that accreditation agency’s standards for response times, and 2. Call volume has increased due to the Valley’s Automatic Aid system. Quite simply Glendale fire responds to more calls in neighboring cities such as Peoria and Phoenix than the number of times those cities respond to calls in Glendale. Automatic Aid is placing a strain on the Glendale Fire Department and is partially responsible for the unavailability of Glendale fire units to respond to its own residents in a timely manner.

One of the citizen speakers of note was Gary Hirsch, a Glendale resident and former candidate for city council. With regard to the possible 4 councilmember recall he referred to a special interest group, Glendale First, as the sponsoring organization of the effort but the majority of his remarks were directed to the issue of the first original recall effort against Councilmember

Gary Hirsch Glendale resident

Gary Hirsch
Glendale resident

Gary Sherwood. He said, “There are times that the official conduct of the councilmembers has proven to be so egregious that recall is not only appropriate but is necessary to restore honest representation. As a result the recall Gary Sherwood election has been approved and scheduled to take place on November 3rd, 2015.” He ended with this remark, “Always watch your wallet around Councilmember Sherwood.”Another speaker of note during the public comment period was Justin Harris. His remarks are below verbatim and were directed at the most recent issue of a second set of recalls of 2 (or 4) councilmembers sponsored by Glendale First:

“My name is Justin Harris. I am president of the Glendale Law Enforcement Association and co-chair of the Glendale Police Officer Coalition. I’m here tonight speaking on behalf of my members as well as Julie Pendergast. She could not be here tonight. She had personal matters to attend to. (Note: Julie Pendergast is president of the Glendale chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and co-chair of the Glendale Police Officer Coalition).

“I find myself in an awkward position. Typically, we don’t come out speaking to the council regarding some of the events that have taken place. But I felt compelled to after some recent media events and some misinformation and misrepresentation of the facts that members of

Glendale First have shared with the public both in the paper and in the media. Recently I learned of the recall petitions that were pulled against Bart Turner. That was filed by Lawrence Feiner. The recall petition against Lauren Tolmachoff was pulled by Bill Eikost and Jennifer Eikost. I’m assuming they are husband and wife.

“What concerned me the most was part of the petition and the way it was worded. If they’ve got issues with what some of the councilmembers did regarding the Coyotes that’s their deal. But what I don’t appreciate is Glendale First coming in, misrepresenting facts saying that the mayor and certain councilmembers do not support public safety. In their filing they say that

Justin Harris President Glendale Law Enforcement Association

Justin Harris
President
Glendale Law Enforcement Association

you guys have diverted money earmarked for public safety and you placed that into a rainy day fund which has increased emergency response times. I’m not sure where they got their information but they sure didn’t come talk to me or my co-chair Julie Pendergast. Interesting enough, both Lawrence and Jennifer are listed as guests with Glendale First on a roster that attended a hockey game April 26th, 2013, at the Glendale arena in the city suite and the host of that event was Gary Sherwood – Councilmember Sherwood. (Please note: I, too, was in that suite on that date).

“Bea Wyatt, also with Glendale First, I listened to a radio talk show interview that she did on Friday, June 19th. She was talking about pulling recall petitions possibly on you, mayor and the other four councilmembers because they were not supportive of public safety. But then her comments bled into the Coyotes team. I don’t know why she was on sports radio talking about Councilmembers Turner and Tolmachoff not supporting public safety. I couldn’t tie the two together. Interesting enough the five councilmembers that voted to not renew the contract are the same councilmembers that this Glendale First is trying to attack and misrepresent facts about not supporting public safety.

“I’m here to tell the public today as being the person who represents the line level men and women who wear the badge. Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh, Councilmember Tolmachoff, Councilmember Aldama, Councilmember Turner, you do support public safety. You made the tough decisions. There was a period of time prior to Proposition 457 when our members were giving concessions. We were understaffed to the tune of ten million dollars – understaffed, overworked. Our men and women went out there and did the job we took an oath to do. Meanwhile the city was forking over twenty five million dollars a year to a hockey team. Doesn’t make sense to me.

“So at this time I wanted to thank you Mayor, Vice Mayor Hugh, Councilmember Tolmachoff, Councilmember Aldama, Councilmember Turner for your unwavering support in making a very tough decision, finding the courage it takes to insure that you’re doing the right thing, not only for your constituents but also for your police department, the men and women who put our lives on the line every day to protect the public. Thank you for protecting us. I also wanted to thank each of you for upholding the state law and at least having the courage to have that law looked into to find out if there was in fact a conflict of interest at the time that the deal was done. It takes a lot of courage. You don’t see that too often. So, again, thank you.

“I’ve been sitting back like a lion in the tall grass, just waiting, watching and analyzing as these events have unfolded. But now I have come out to protect my members and to protect the city from a special interest groups that doesn’t care about public safety and they want to use public safety as a reason why they’re pulling this recall – or part of the reason they’re pulling this recall.

“I want each of you to be aware and the public to not support the recall against Councilmember Tolmachoff and Councilmember Turner because it’s misrepresentation of the facts. It’s half truths and they are flat out lies. We know that you are protecting public safety. We appreciate your service to the community and the commitment to your police department. Thank you.”

There were 86 items on that night’s agenda but the one that caused extraordinary public participation was Item # 83 Rezoning (ZON) application Zon 15-03 (ordinance): Palm Canyon Business Park Planned Area Development – 17750 N. 83rd Avenue – the Becker Billboard issue – again. A presentation was made by Mark Becker with the same arguments as when he was previously denied by this council. He added a few paid experts to speak about how innocuous billboards are.

There was one speaker, Glendale resident Connie Keiser, who nicely summed up the feelings of all of the citizenry that came out to speak against the billboards. She said, “Hello. I am Connie Keiser. I live in Glendale. I live in the Sahuaro district and I am impacted by these billboards. First off, I live in Hidden Manor and we were there long before Glendale because you annexed us. We are the subdivision directly north of Arrowhead Towne Center. We are the closest residential subdivision to those billboards.

“Digital billboards are the junk mail of the freeways. No one wants to be looking at a huge TV on a stick that distracts drivers and throws huge amounts of light into neighboring homes and

Connie Keiser Glendale resident

Connie Keiser
Glendale resident

the night sky. That’s the reason Scottsdale and Paradise Valley will not allow billboards. They consider them to be junk.

“Why does Mark Becker keep beating this dead horse? I am sorry that people made a bad, bad investment in that property. When they bought that land they had the mistaken belief that they could fly in under the radar and could get billboards approved before we knew what hit us. Not in our neighborhoods. You can’t, Mr. Becker. You woke several sleeping giants and not only in Glendale but in Peoria. You did not expect us to come together as a community like we have.

Mr. Becker had been told ‘no’ over and over again but he hasn’t caught on yet. Now I have, if you’ll remember in his little presentation that he used, ‘Scenic America’ is one example. But he forgot to tell you about the ‘drop down’ on billboards which I happened to point out today. And I’m just going to quote several little things they say (Scenic America) about billboards.

“‘Billboards endanger health and safety. While the industry would like you to think billboards are harmless, their negative effects on health and safety have been well documented. Billboards hamper economic growth. Billboards make a few people a lot of money. Unfortunately, however, they do serious economic harm to communities. Nature of the billboard industry – the billboard industry likes to proclaim its small, local nature.’ We heard Mr. Becker talk about how he’s just a small, local company. ‘When a state or local government considers enacting tougher billboard controls industry lawyers and lobbyists appear at hearings and speak long and loudly about how the government is threatening another small business with extinction.’ The reality, however, is quite different.

“We don’t need these billboards. I’ve been here, I think I told Planning and Zoning I got notified by Social Security I have a life expectancy of 20 years and I will keep coming back for those 20 years to fight this horrible, horrible idea. Please tell him ‘no’ unanimously just like Planning and Zoning has done. Thank you.”

After Becker’s presentation and the public hearing it was council’s turn and a theater of the absurd ensued. Mayor Weiers asked City Attorney Bailey and it was confirmed the order of proceeding would be amendments to the motion would be considered and voted upon first. That action would be followed by a consideration and a vote upon the applicant’s zoning request with any new amendments that council would have just approved.

Well, it didn’t go that way at all. Councilmember Chavira asked to make his motion first. Instead of offering the amendments only and exclusively, Sammy’s motion included approval of the applicant’s zoning request along with his self crafted 4 amendments. Aldama seconded the motion with amendments. The instruction for action that had just been outlined so carefully went completely out the window. It appears that Sammy is not always the brightest bulb in the pack.

Mayor Weiers asked if there were copies of the newly offered Chavira amendments available. City staff did not have any copies but immediately Mark Becker popped up and passed out copies of the Chavira amendments to staff for distribution to council. Wait, you ask, why does Mark Becker have copies of the Chavira amendments but city staff and the rest of council do not? Immediately the question comes to mind – who really wrote those amendments?

Councilmember Tolmachoff must have had the same thought for she asked who prepared the amendments – Mark Becker or Councilmember Chavira? Councilmember Chavira responded by saying it was his motion and he came up with the amendments that very same day. Why did he make sure Mark Becker got copies yet didn’t distribute them to staff and city council for their advance consideration prior to the meeting that evening? It makes no sense.

All of the councilmembers with the exception of Councilmember Sherwood and Vice Mayor Hugh commented prior to their votes. The most disturbing commentary to the anti-billboard people in attendance were the remarks made by Councilmember Turner. It seemed as if he was about to vote in favor of the billboard application and a majority of the audience was visibly shaken for it appeared as if he would become the fourth and majority vote granting the Becker billboard application. He said that the applicant’s request was similar to the billboards that had been approved for the Westgate area and since the Loop 101/Bell Road corridor was similar in commercial nature to the Westgate area it should be considered similarly in that context.

Mayor Weiers asked the city attorney again if Chavira’s motion including the amendments was valid. Mr. Bailey indicated it was a valid motion and recited for clarification what the motion included. Mayor Weiers proceeded with a roll call vote typically done in alphabetical order of councilmember surnames. Councilmember Aldama and Councilmember Chavira voted in favor of the billboard application. Councilmember Sherwood passed. Never, ever in my 16 years as a councilmember had any councilmember ever passed on a vote. Why did Sherwood do it? Why on this night? Think about it. Two councilmembers had voted in favor. Sherwood knew he could vote in favor as well but he needed to know what Councilmember Turner’s vote was before he voted for or against. If Turner voted in favor Sherwood would be the fourth and majority vote for passage of the billboard application. So he passed, waiting to hear what Turner’s vote would be. Councilmember Tolmachoff and Vice Mayor Hugh voted against the billboard application.

The vote was 2-2 and it was Turner’s turn. There was a moment of hesitation and then he voted against the billboard application. Weiers passed and went back to Sherwood for his vote. Sherwood voted against the billboard application and why not? He knew the motion was defeated and by flip flopping once again and voting against the billboards it might provide him some cover for his recall election. The last vote was cast by Mayor Weiers against the billboard application with the result being a 5-2 vote with only Aldama and Chavira supporting the request. Do you suppose they were blindsided by their buddy Sherwood? Do you think they will trust his word from now on?

City council vacates the month of July and will return to regular order in August. Many schedule vacations during July but they may find themselves called back to town to participate in depositions regarding the Coyote litigation. Glendale residents need a break from the ongoing political shenanigans too.

© 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.

There’s certainly been a lot of news concerning Glendale this week:

  • On February 20, 2015 the group led by Anna Lee filed the necessary paperwork once again to recall Councilmember Gary Sherwood of the Sahuaro district. The group’s first effort was denied by the city on various grounds. Consider their first effort a life’s lesson. They now know exactly what eyes to dot and tees to cross. Expect them to gather the necessary signatures to compel the city to call for a Sherwood recall election. If you would like to sign the petition (must live in the Sahuaro district)  and/or help gather signatures please call 602-657-0303 and your call will be returned.
  • The city council accepted former City Manager Brenda Fischer’s resignation effective April 3, 2015. Her request of the emails of only 3 councilmembers may have been the last straw for council.
  • The city council appointed former Scottsdale City Manager Dick Bowers as Glendale’s Interim City Manager. Mr. Bowers has filled this position before during the last search by council for a city manager. One of his first decisions was to retain the services of Jon Froke as the city’s Planning Director.
  • Mayor Jerry Weiers, on Friday, February 20, 2015 issued the following statement regarding the proposal to sell Foothills Library and relocate it to the Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center:

“Over the past few weeks, the citizens of Glendale have voiced their opinion regarding the proposed relocation of the Foothills Branch Library. Their voice has been almost entirely united in opposition to the proposal. While I share their concerns and am personally opposed to the proposal, I await the recommendation of the Library Advisory Board, the Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Arts Commission. “I am glad that Glendale residents have taken such an active role on this issue. Ever since it was announced, I urged staff to seek the input of the public to ensure that our citizens were incluced an any propoal to alter the library. It is my sincere hope that Glendale residents will continue to actively participate in this and other important issues facing our great city. “I also thank Midwestern University for their long-term support of the Glendale community. In addition to producint hundreds of doctors, pharmacits, physician assistand, and many other types of medical professionals every year, Midwestern opens their campus to the community through clinics and other wonderful events. Our City is a better place because they are here.”             

  • Tony Tavares, the former president of Disney Enterprises and the Anaheim Ducks, will conduct an audit of the Arizona Coyotes’ financials for $45,000 (anything over the $50,000 cap would require council approval). The audit was supposed to have begun by the end of September. It has been delayed because IceArizona has taken over 5 months to perform its own audit and still is not finished. With this audit the city will be able to examine revenue sources related to the Coyotes and Gila River Arena. Tavares was involved with Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox in a failed 2011 attempt to buy the Coyotes…hmmm.
  • In the Glendale Republic of February 21, 2015, under the title of West Valley Sound Off, elected officials were asked their thoughts on SB 1435 which would gut Arizona Open Meeting law. Mayor Kenn Weise of Avondale expressed opposition as did Councilman Roy Delgado of El Mirage and Councilman Jamie Aldama of Glendale. Not so with Councilman Gary Sherwood. Still smarting from an ongoing Attorney General’s Office into allegations of violation of the Open Meeting Law, he said, “I do believe that reform is needed to allow for additional dialogue amongst the council” and “On Glendale’s seven-member counci, it is difficult to speak to three other members without violating the law.” Well, if anyone should know, he should.
  • Each of the three citizen commissions who heard the presentations on selling the Foothills Library last week will be meeting again this coming week. Citizens are welcome to attend as they are public meetings BUT it will NOT be an opportunity for citizen comment but rather an opportunity for the commission members to have their questions answered by staff and then to decide on an advisory recommendation to the city council. The meeting dates are as follows:
  • Glendale Arts Commission at the Foothills Recreation Center on Monday, February 23, 2015, 6 PM
  • Library Advisory Board at the Foothills Library on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 6 PM
  • Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission at the Adult Center on Thursday, February 26, 2015, 6 PM

© 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.

20140812_193537The August 12, 2014 meeting of the Glendale City Council was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You know the inevitable outcome; you know it will be extremely painful; but you are utterly powerless to stop it. All you can do is watch it unfold. This is the first council meeting I attended since leaving office over a year and a half ago. People have been telling me for months that the animosity among councilmembers was evident. I thought OK, there were times when our council meetings were not happy affairs. Little did I know that the atmosphere reeked of councilmember nastiness and disrespect. It was palpable fueled by the absolute arrogance of the council majority (Sherwood, Hugh, Alvarez and Chavira). The meeting was not unusual as council sped through proclamations and the consent agenda. The last two items were casino related. One was council approval of the draft agreement between the Tohono O’odham and Glendale. The other was the first official groveling of the city council with a resolution supporting the construction of the casino.  All hell broke loose. The draft agreement was introduced and recited by Michael Bailey, Glendale’s City Attorney. Mayor Weiers opened the public comment portion. There were 22 speakers to the item. 15 citizens spoke in opposition to the draft agreement and 7 spoke in favor of the draft agreement. The speakers’ comments in opposition to the proposed casino revolved around these general themes: casinos produce greater crime in the adjacent area; they create a greater rate of gambling addiction and subsequent bankruptcies and home foreclosures. The two major themes were comments about the rush to get this agreement done and the fact that it simply wasn’t a good deal for Glendale. There were some memorable comments to share (my apology if I butcher someone’s name). John Burnell of the Sahuaro district related that a family member, as a gambling addict, maxxed out credit cards and lied to keep it secret. The husband had to take two jobs and it took him over two years to get the family’s finances back on track. Barbara Roberts acknowledged the casino job creation but said, “Yes, we need jobs but what kind of jobs?” Timothy Green of Goodyear said, “Casinos only succeed on the backs of losers.” A rather profound statement. Ron Kolb, Ocotillo district said, “The West Side will never be the same.” Dr. Ron Rockwell, pastor of a Yucca district church very near the casino site, said, “You no longer care about the moral and spiritual culture of this community.” Randy Miller, candidate for the Barrel district council seat, called out Councilmember Alvarez and her continual homage about the importance of listening to the people…yeah, Norma, right. It seems to be a principle of hers only when convenient. Those speakers in support of the casino were arrogant and boastful. John Mendlelberg, former Mayor of Surprise, said, “You must concede.” Reverend Maupin of Phoenix, said, “You lost the war. You should be grateful for whatever you are getting.” He accused Councilmember Martinez of being a liar and a racist. Robert Quizneros of the Ocotillo district complained about the audacity of “the other side’s hiring of attorneys and lobbyists” to defeat the casino. A special “shout out” to Lauren Tolmachoff, candidate for the Cholla district council seat. It appears that she has become a one-trick pony as she reiterated her support for the casino in the name of jobs. Hey, Lauren, don’t you know about “job displacement?” Several pro-casino speakers kept referring to, “it’s their (TO) land.” Well, yes it is after a purchase kept secret for 7 years and its newly minted designation as a reservation. It’s all about a reservation WITHIN Glendale. I defy anyone to identify any city in the State of Arizona that has a reservation within its boundaries. Then it was time for the Councilmembers to speak prior to their vote. Alvarez’ remarks were priceless in their ignorance. She made memorable comments such as, “what’s the difference between a lottery ticket and a casino?” Or, “We have casinos in Scottsdale.” Or, “They (Tohono O’odham) are going to provide a service.” That one caused audible audience derision.  And lastly, “Make us responsible for what we’re doing.” Trust me, we will.   Councilmember Sherwood, self-proclaimed negotiator and leader, was strangely silent all evening except for his monologue prior to his affirmative vote. His comments deserve a special blog and its coming. Councilmember Martinez offered a series of amendments to the draft and that’s when all hell broke loose. Councilmembers Alvarez and Chavira, repeatedly and often, yelled out while Councilmember Martinez was trying to speak, “Call for the question!” Their obvious intent was to silence Councilmember Martinez’ efforts. What were they afraid of? They knew they had the votes to defeat any amendment. Chavira was literally in a rage because of Martinez’ efforts. He lept out of his seat and it looked as if he was about to confront Mayor Weiers physically. Wow, Sammy. Finally we see the true persona and your reaction when crossed and you don’t get your way. The lack of control he exhibited demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as a councilmember and cannot conduct himself in a manner required by the office he holds. Martinez offered 4 amendments: raising the TO payment to $20 million or 3% of the Class III net; offsite infrastructure costs to be paid by the TO up front; a waiver of sovereign immunity especially with regard to fraud and other bad acts; and payments to continue beyond 2026. Each was rejected. The vote was as everyone expected. The majority of 4 – Sherwood, Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira voting to approve the agreement and Weiers, Martinez and Knaack voting against. What was unexpected to the degree it manifested itself, was the vituperativeness and nastiness. At one point a citizen called Martinez a liar and a racist. Mayor Weiers should have stopped the speaker immediately and requested a police officer escort the person from the building. There is no doubt that Mayor Weiers lost control of the meeting during the first casino agenda item. His failure fueled the majority’s contempt and rage. Kudos go to Bonnie Steiger, a Glendale resident and faithful attendee at council meetings for 28 years. She is everyone’s Grandmother. She was so disgusted with council’s behavior that she said their lack of respect for the very office they hold merited the removal of all of them. Lastly, I offer two interesting items for your attention. One is the Coyotes publicly announced today that they had accepted a deal for arena naming rights. Are you ready for this? It will be called the Gila River Arena. Hooray for the Gila River. Although it may require Glendale approval, Glendale may only reject for very narrow reasons and the new naming rights do not fit the criteria. Can you say embarrassing, Glendale?? Or perhaps the majority of 4 will figure out a way to kill the deal. The second item is that just before 5 PM, yesterday, August 12, 2014 a group filed paperwork with the Glendale City Clerk’s office for a Political Action Committee for the purpose of recalling Councilmember Gary Sherwood. Things are heating up in Glendale. As I said at the beginning of this blog, this meeting was definitely a train wreck but the pain is yet to be borne by all of the people of Glendale. © 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. 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