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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 18 years and 97 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The Glendale city council meeting of Tuesday, March 22, 2016 was completed in a little over an hour despite an agenda of 41 items, 36 of which were consent agenda or consent resolutions. The only curious item of note was Item 12, Position reclassifications presented by HR Director Jim Brown. There was only one position reclassification requested and that was for the City Attorney’s Office. The request was to create a new title, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor. The reason given for the request was to “realign to better meet department needs.”  Hmmm…it seems a bit strange to bring forward only one position in the organization for reclassification.

The more interesting events of the evening were not formal agenda items. During the public comment portion Bill Dempsky of the Sahuaro district, a regular citizen public speaker, railed about Councilmember Sammy Chavira’s excessive and questionable travel expenses. He cited specific facts about those expenses and commented that Sammy wasted $3,000 of your taxpayer dollars with his constant habit and practice of changing flights.

Sammy has become very nervous about his recent negative press coverage and so, lo and behold, he spoke. At the end of the council meeting during council comments, he pulled his written comments before him and began to read. His comments were carefully worded and it was obvious that Sammy did not write them for he does not speak that well.

He said he always followed the travel policy of the city. He failed to mention that in relation to elected officials whatever policy does exist is non-existent or very weak. We would not expect him to acknowledge that he gamed the system. He can claim he did nothing wrong but the Yucca district voters no longer believe him. One man told me, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. He went on to say appearances are everything and it appears to him that Sammy is using his power and privilege to his advantage, not that of the people.

Chavira had two “fun” trips on his agenda – one to see the Pope in Washington, D.C. on a large screen TV and the other to see his friend and mentor, Ruben Gallego, be installed as a U.S. Congressman. But Sammy had a problem. For you see, he had to make these trips “legitimate.” What to do? Simple, claim some sort of meeting related to city business—with someone, anyone, willing to back up his claim that a city issue was discussed. For all we know the so-called meeting could (and probably was) 5 minutes long but it would have been enough to CYA.

Sammy’s bosses, including the Phoenix Fire Chief, have tacitly acknowledged the impropriety of Sammy’s paying $420 for their seafood and steak dinners by returning their portions of the check (5 Phoenix officials have done so to date) to the City of Glendale. Not only that, but they repaid with personal funds. Has it ever occurred to Sammy that it’s time he repaid the city as well? Probably not.

Sammy went on to say that he supports review of the city’s travel policy and at the April 5, 2016 city council workshop he, personally, would request such a review as an action item for a future city council workshop.

Sammy is definitely scared. He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and is desperately looking for a way to keep his hand intact. This time it’s not going to work. What Sammy doesn’t realize…yet…is there are a lot of angry voters out there. They were already angry about his lack of accessibility and responsiveness to his constituents; his canceling of scheduled meetings with them; his absences from council meetings; and his lack of communication with the people he was elected to serve. Sammy’s performance as their councilmember has been less than sterling. Now with these new revelations about his use of taxpayer money, they have had enough.

To a majority of Yucca district voters Sammy has exhibited the worst characteristics of an elected politician, with his cronyism, his advocacy of issues in support of his large campaign contributors, his advocacy of more money exclusively for the fire department and his abuse of power. They are disgusted and have had enough. They believe he epitomizes the worst of establishment politicians and they will not vote for him again. They think he represents the cliché of smoked-filled rooms and back deals. They realize that Sammy is not working for them. Rather Sammy is working for Sammy.

All of these reasons…and more…persuaded me to run for the Yucca district council seat: to restore dignity and honor to the position; to research and to question staff thoroughly regarding their policy recommendations; to restore accessibility and communication to the people of the district; and to become an instrument of giving the people of the district their voice back. I ask the people of the Yucca district for their support. I ask for their vote in the August 30, 2016 Primary Election.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

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 18 years and 95 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

PLEASE NOTE: To the left of this blog you will see how you can donate to my campaign. You may write a check and mail it to me or you may use the PayPal button. Sammy already has a war chest of $16,000+. The last campaign contribution he received was in December of 2015, 3 months ago, from…yep, Mark Becker of Becker Billboards in the amount of $5,000. Becker tried to get his billboards sited in north Glendale at Arrowhead.

Any amount is gratefully accepted from $5 to $5,000. You must include your name, your address, your employer and your job title. That is required by law. Donations from companies and corporations are prohibited. You do not have to live in the Yucca district, or Glendale, or the state of Arizona or even the United States to make a donation. Please take a moment to help me to regain the City Council seat representing the Yucca district and to “get their voice back.”

Sammy’s invisibility continues. Paul Giblin wrote an article on March 19, 2016, entitled Glendale expenses get more scrutiny. It is not online as of this date so no link to the story is provided. In it Giblin says, “Chavira declined to discuss the matter (of council’s plan to hold a workshop on travel expenses) after a City Council work session Tuesday, his first public appearance at City Hall since returning from another trip to Washington to attend a National League of Cities conference. Chavira previously said in an email that all of the trips he expensed were for legitimate purposes.”

In another Paul Giblin story he reports on the election rematch for the Yucca district council seat between Sammy and me, saying, “Chavira has been less public about his intentions (regarding his campaign for his seat). He did not return messages from The Arizona Republic and his campaign website and Twitter account were silent on the matter Monday.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/15/sammy-chavira-joyce-clark-could-have-council-election-rematch-glendale/81590186/ .

Interesting observations emerge from Sammy’s quotes. He says his trips were for “legitimate purposes.” Of course he does. What else can he possibly say? It’s perfectly legitimate for Sammy to fly to D.C. and watch the Pope on a large screen TV…but not on the taxpayers’ dime. It’s perfectly legitimate for Sammy to fly to D.C. to watch his buddy and mentor, Rueben Gallego, get sworn in as a U.S. Representative…but not on the taxpayers’ dime. It is never legitimate to use one’s position and power to host a dinner and curry favor with one’s bosses…especially on the taxpayers’ dime.

Sammy requested and received City Attorney Michael Bailey’s opinion that Sammy’s expenses did not violate any law. I bet that statement was well crafted and carefully worded. Well, of course one would expect Sammy to request that from Bailey and Bailey would comply. After all, Bailey’s bosses are the councilmembers and he serves at their pleasure. It wouldn’t do to make one of them angry.

I have been an incumbent and I have been the opponent of an incumbent when running for the Yucca council seat. Let me tell you, City Hall does protect the incumbent in a myriad of very subtle ways. Be warned — City Hall, this election cycle. City policy is that a councilmember may not take advantage of city resources, such as appearing on the City’s cable channel, six months before an election. The primary election is in on August 30, 2016.  As of February 29, 2016 the six month restriction began. A councilmember may not use city resources, financial or otherwise, for district newsletters, any sort of mailing or event if it has not been the habit and practice of the councilmember during the entire course of a person’s term. Sammy cannot use city resources to send out a special mailing or newsletter or to host an event between now and the Primary because he has never done it during his term of office. He may continue his Friday e-newsletters as they have been produced for him since he took office.

The other observation is Sammy’s remarkable disappearance and utter silence. Many Yucca district residents are saying that since Sammy has no good defense for his actions he seems to be saying even less than his usual “thank you” and has disappeared.  That’s not a new stance for Sammy. In the past year he was AWOL from nearly a dozen council meetings or workshop meetings. There were some other instances when he participated telephonically or when he arrived late for a meeting. Sammy hasn’t exactly been on the job lately.

Other residents believe Sammy is scared realizing that he’s in a heap of political “do-do.” Some feel he is being deliberately invisible in the hopes that this will blow over by election time. That’s not going to happen. Every Yucca district voter deserves to know that Sammy’s travel expenses and his other decisions or actions, at the very least, constitute an abuse of trust voters placed in him. Yucca district deserves better. Residents want to “get their voice back.”

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

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.

MIDDLE OF THE ROADERS…#4 WEIERS AND #5 SHERWOOD

Weiers

Jerry Weiers

Sherwood

Gary Sherwood

There is no earth shaking surprise in either of these gentlemen’s budgetary expenditures. Certainly they have not adopted the philosophy or practice of giving your taxpayer dollars away as Chavira, Alvarez and Hugh have done. Mayor Weiers 6 months of expenditures comes in at $14,041.33 and Councilmember Sherwood is not far behind with expenditures of $11,516.37.

It’s common knowledge that they don’t like each other very much as each vies for the title of ultimate power broker in Glendale. They are discussed in unison because they share commonalities when it comes to spending. Both like to travel with each racking up substantial travel expenses and each spent about the same amount for the use of phones whether land line or cell.

money 3Mayor Weiers spent $4,729.15 (33% of his 6 months of expenditures) on travel for 3 trips. In March he and Councilmembers Sherwood and Chavira, staffed by Intergovernmental Director, Brent Stoddard, went to Washington, D.C. for the National League of Cities (NLC) Congressional City Conference. In April Weiers and Stoddard went to Washington, D.C. for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) Executive Mission. In May Weiers was back in D.C. with Stoddard. If Stoddard’s expenses to staff Weiers and others in D.C. are added those trips become pricier at $8,541.00.

money 5Sherwood spent $3,927.22 (34% of his 6 months of expenditures) on travel as well. If a quarter of Stoddard’s expenses (Stoddard staffed 3 elected officials on the March trip to D.C.) are added, Sherwood’s tab for travel cost the city $5,069.45 in direct and indirect costs. Stoddard typically pays for meals, especially dinners if the elected officials have not been invited by another party. He will pay cab fare and miscellaneous expenses on behalf of the elected officials.

Weiers’ phone bill comes in at $1,259.52 and Sherwood spent $449.10 for his cell and another $789.85 for his land line totaling $1,238.95. Their phone expenditures in 6 months are virtually the same. Is it appropriate to cover their phone expenses? That is a judgment call and something you must decide.The balance of their budgetary expenditures is ordinary and appropriate.

These trips were probably meaningful and were dedicated to lobbying for the city’s interests on issues such as the F-35 to be based at Luke and the casino issue. Everything in D.C. is pricey but we expect moderation. Their lodging and airfare are reasonable for a trip to D.C. but Stoddard’s expenditure of $1,284.52 for meals (dinners for 4) is on the high side.

In an era of frugality and tightened budgetary expenses in Glendale it is more important than ever before that our elected officials spend their travel dollars wisely. A reminder that these trips are funded with taxpayer dollars may encourage them to be more mindful.

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