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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

The Glendale city council is meeting in workshop today, March 17, 2015. At 10 AM Mayor Jerry Weiers officially declared the proposal to sell the library building and relocate the library to the Foothills Recreation & Aquatic Center as dead.

Many people deserve thanks. First and foremost the residents of Glendale are to be congratulated for their participation in the process. Many of you attended all six public meetings on the issue. Others made public comment either at the meetings, on comment cards, by calling a city hotline, or by sending email’s or letters to the mayor and council. Your efforts made the difference. Your expression of support for Glendale’s entire library system was noted.

Thanks also to the the three boards and commissions, Arts, Parks & Recreation and Library, that received information on the issue, listened to public comment, deliberated with serious consideration and recommended denial of the proposal to the city council.

Thanks to the city council for listening to the voices of the people and refusing to move forward with the proposal. They did their jobs in representing their constituents.

Thanks to Parks, Library and Recreation Director Erik Strunk and Chief Librarian Michael Beck for withstanding the public criticism of this proposal with grace and respect.

Councilmember Bart Turner offered an idea to provide library services in west Glendale by utilizing space within Glendale’s Media Center at Westgate. Glendale staff will now be tasked with researching the suggestion. I applaud Councilmember Turner’s suggestion and should it become reality, it is not a substitute for Glendale’s long term promise to establish a stand-alone, dedicated library building at Hero’s Park at 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road. It is an excellent interim solution to the lack of service we, who live in the Yucca district, have experienced for 15 years but it should not be considered the ultimate solution.

Once again, congratulations to all who participated in the process of consideration of the proposal. Job well done by all.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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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.

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