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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

As a result of an external audit that cost Glendale in excess of a half million dollars four city personnel either resigned or were terminated. Diane Goke, Budget Director and Sherry Schurhammer, Executive Director of Finance resigned. Horatio Skeete, Assistant City Manager (at the time in question he was a Deputy and Pam Kavanaugh was Assistant City Manager) and Don Bolton, Assistant Financial Officer were terminated by newly hired City Manager Brenda Fischer.

In an Arizona Republic article of October 21, 2013 entitled Appeals board: Staying quiet wasn’t option for ex-Glendale bookkeeper City Manager Brenda Fischer said, “City employees are duty bound to find a way to speak up when warranted.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/community/glendale/articles/20131018appeals-board-staying-quiet-wasnt-option-for-exglendale-bookkeeper.html . She goes on to say, “Whether it’s going around the management, whether it’s going to the (Attorney General’s) Office anonymously. We had an ethics hotline. They could have anonymously informed the media, put some public pressure on it. They could have written letters to the editor. They could have — if they were uncomfortable being asked to do something inappropriate or illegal — they could have resigned from their employment.” Uh, excuse me but rarely, if ever, are anonymous complaints considered legitimate by the media or Attorney General’s Office and followed up. Since when is a whistle blower required to resign to report wrong doing within the organization?

She must of course be referring to a world peopled by Mother Theresa. Not the real Glendale world as it existed four years ago. There is no such thing as a perfect world, not then and not now – the one that Fischer apparently believes existed at the time. Fischer acted upon her lack of knowledge and her inability to understand a Glendale ruled by City Manager Beasley. She came in as the new City Manager and felt that she needed to make a point.

It was a time of pervasive “Big Brotherism.” If any city personnel had any kind of interaction with a councilmember they were required to report it and its content. Former Councilmember Lieberman’s and my Council Assistant, Perry Baker (now deceased), was terminated because he refused to follow that City Manager directive. It was a time when the atmosphere was heavy with fear and intimidation for all personnel.

 Mr. Skeete and Mr. Bolton graciously shared their submitted correspondence to the city regarding this matter. Mr. Bolton, on page 5 of his correspondence stated, “At this time I would also like to point out that the CM (City Manager) and the executive management team controlled what items were placed on Council agenda’s (sic). The CM and executive management team also performed extensive reviews of all council reports and could slide presentations brought forward by any department. Therefore, all information regarding what to include or not include in any Council presentation had to be reviewed by the CM and executive management team before it could be presented to Council. These CM and executive management team reviews also include multiple ‘dry runs’ where presenters were asked to rehearse their verbal presentations of the content being present to a presenter’s planned ed. It was not uncommon for the CM and executive management team to request modifications verbal and/or slide presentations or the council reports.”

That comment leads to a question long unanswered. Why were these four people targeted exclusively? We know part of the answer. Beasley, Kavanaugh, Tindall, Lynch and Carmicle had left the employ of the city. But other executive management team members stayed and are still there to this day. On page 2 of Gallagher & Kennedy correspondence representing Mr. Skeete it says, “…the City Manager’s Executive Team, including the City Attorney, discussed the ERP (Early Retirement Program) on numerous occasions over the course of several months in 2008-09. Any notion that the staff supposedly tried to hide the ERP from the City Attorney is flatly incorrect.” On page 3 of Mr. Bolton’s correspondence he states, “My email on Exhibit 6 (dated December 15, 2008 used in the external audit) explicitly states…’Sherry, here is the file I received from Craig (Tindall) for the retirement incentive’.” It can be assumed that City Attorney Tindall as part of the Executive Management Team knew of the ERP and its implications. Yet he did not speak up in 2008-09. Why did he wait until 2012 when he was vying with Mr. Skeete for the job of Interim City Manager?

Who were the other members of the Executive Management Team, what did they know and when did they know it? Julie Frisoni as the City’s spokesperson was undoubtedly part of the Executive Management Team and there are emails in the external audit that reflect her knowledge of the Early Retirement Program. Her emails asking for clarification of the factual financial information to be publicly released indicate that she had knowledge of the ERP. Why did she not say anything? According to now City Manager Fischer, she had an obligation to report — to the press, the Attorney General’s Office or the employee hotline. Yeah, right. Keeping quiet got her an appointment by Fischer as an Interim Assistant City Manager, as unqualified as she may be.

The sad part of all of this is that those who appear to be primarily responsible remain unscathed and those who did their bidding at their direction took the pipe. Is life unfair? We all know that it can be but it hits home when it happens to people you know.

Staying quiet in Glendale was an employee’s only option then and guess what? It hasn’t changed. Staying quiet in Glendale is a smart employee option today unless you believe in Fairy Godmothers or Santa Claus.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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In response to a request for any information about the cast of characters or the city hall environment in my Mushroom blogs I received emails, anonymous of course, from presumably city staffers, past and present. I do not know these email authors and their identifiers are names like “concerned citizen” and “deep throat.” From the insider information revealed it is quite clear that they are/were city personnel. Their messages lead me to believe that even with a new City Manager there remains an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

I pulled some quotes that exemplify the majority sentiment of emails received to date. For example, “There were essentially 2 management teams – Ed’s inner circle & the leadership team.” It makes one wonder which group had the most juice.

Or this, “At agenda review it was a precursor to Council meeting where you were drilled & drilled…sometimes there was pre agenda review before the actual agenda review.” At one time I knew (now long since forgotten) which staffers were tasked with playing the roles of various councilmembers and that at times everyone would crack up because some staffers were really, really good at mimicking certain councilmembers.

There was tension at the time between Schurhammer and Carmicle. We get a glimpse with, “There was also bitter, AND I MEAN BITTER feeling between Budget & HR. Budget office had lots of problems getting info from HR.” A generalized assessment of Alma Carmicle as HR Director seems to be that she was in way over her head and relied heavily upon her staff.

With regard to the 4 staffers that either resigned or were terminated, “They were merely Ed’s good soldiers. And, yes, I get the fact that they should of (sic) told people, but everyone needs a job.” This comment brings up the proposed hotline for employees. With a hotline voices can be recognized and IP addresses can be found. Anonymity is not guaranteed. Consideration should be given to an Ombudsman who must remain neutral and can legitimately investigate allegations while maintaining the anonymity of the employee.

There are questions about Candice MacLeod’s expanded and more prominent role as Auditor with, “Candace McCloud now reports to Council. As I recall in the Charter, only certain positions report to Council and that was not one of them! Doesn’t that require a change in the Charter????” This is a concept that requires further specificity. The Charter states the City Council hires/fires its four direct appointees: The City Manager, the City Attorney, the City Judge and the City Clerk. On a regular basis these 4 appointees submitted either monthly or quarterly reports directly to the council. With this new scheme the City Auditor is not a council appointee yet must report directly to council. There will be an inherent conflict as the City Auditor is hired/fired and supervised by the City Manager. Who takes precedence? It would appear that would be the City Manager.

Lastly all agree on this, “Julie Frisoni was part of Ed’s inner circle. She knew most everything that went on and she was very much aware of the money situation.” Or, “She (Frisoni) framed every major press release and all information had to go through Marketing.” Another comment was, “She is unqualified to be in that position. As far as I know she does not have a Master’s Degree which HR policies says (sic) you need for that position.”

There you have it. Some brave staffers have found a way to weigh in. Please keep those emails coming to clarkjv@aol.com. Your voices are an essential part of the story.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has 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, democracy, 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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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.

Stories about Glendale keep popping up like daisies. The Arizona Republic takes positive glee in reporting negativism witness 2 hits on August 30, 2013. Paul Giblin did a story on the fall out of senior staff in the wake of the external audit and Laurie Roberts takes a pot shot at elected officials. Horatio Skeete, former Assistant City Manager, has been fired and Sherry Schurhammer, former Executive Director of Finance, has resigned. So the pound of flesh sought has been realized.  Make no mistake; they should not be absolved for they carried out the City Manager’s direction. Its’ similar, although not nearly as grievous, to those in Nazi Germany who either carried out Hitler’s directives or did not protest them. The reasons for silence in both instances were similar – fear of serious retribution. But they did not order the direction taken. Will those ultimately responsible be held accountable?

Laurie Roberts casts a wider net and accuses city council of mismanagement saying, “The mismanagement in that place apparently knows no bounds…” Mismanagement is defined as the exercise of executive, administrative and supervisory direction. How could council have given direction when senior staff conspired to hide the truth on actions it had taken by not advising council of the facts? If she had read the external audit thoroughly she would have read on page 19 of the report, “From the onset of the ERP, City Management and staff failed to keep the City Council appropriately informed, at times misled them and/or provided incorrect information. Under the previous administration, City staff was hindered and/or prohibited from providing valuable information to the City Council.”

The news media also reported that former Glendale City Attorney, Craig Tindall, has been hired as General Counsel for IceArizona, the new owners of the Coyotes. This development is not so surprising. Mr. Tindall was intimately involved in all of the arena management deals council considered.   I had several telephone conversations with Mr. Tindall during negotiations of various arena management deals over 4 years. I am sure others on council had similar conversations. There was one conversation in particular that stuck in my memory. I did not record it. I did not take notes but it was unusual enough that I remember the gist of it. During the course of the Jamison negotiations, Mr. Tindall alluded that he had been contacted by other, serious buyers of the team and if the Jamison deal fell through there were others waiting in the wings. It is not hard to imagine one buyer could have been Anthony LeBlanc. Mr. Tindall never named anyone. What did Mr. Tindall share with these other serious buyers that was not privileged or confidential information about contract negotiations? We’ll never know but it appears that some of these serious buyers could have been grateful.

To the news media Glendale has turned into the entrée of the day. Slow news day? I can hear it now. Editor: Geez, there’s not much happening right now. Let’s have Giblin write another story about Glendale. Problem solved. You can tell when it’s a slow news day – just look for a regurgitated story about Glendale. They have created a daisy chain of stories about Glendale, day after day, citing the same information over and over and over again.

I’ll be blogging again after Labor Day.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has 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, democracy, 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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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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