City Manager Brenda Fischer announced that effective March 3, 2014 Julie Frisoni and Jennifer Campbell will become Assistant City Managers in Glendale. Let’s begin this exercise by reviewing the Human Resources requirements for the position. As of July 1, 2008 the last time the position was reviewed it required a “Master’s Degree in Public Administration, Business Administration, Management, or a related field and ten years of progressively responsible administrative experience in a municipal government organization with five of those years being in a municipal management position. Any equivalent combination of training and experience that provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities, is qualifying.”

Jennifer Campbell has a master’s of education degree with an emphasis in leadership and public administration from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from Arizona State University. Campbell has more than 16 years in municipal government positions at the Cities of Peoria and Goodyear and, most recently, at the City of Maricopa as community services director.

Frisoni holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arizona State University and since 2002 (12 years) has worked for Glendale rising to Executive Director of Communications and Marketing. You will note that a master’s AND a minimum of ten years experience is required. Frisoni may have the years but she has no master’s.

Some will make the case that they are qualified due to the numbers of years of experience each has accrued for it certainly won’t be due to their educational qualifications as neither has a master’s in the requisite areas of public administration, business administration or management. It will be argued that both meet the minimum qualifications with a combination of training and experience. They may or may not but the kind of experience that both have amassed is of consideration.

Their Assistant City Manager functions include:

  • Provides administrative direction to the Deputy City Managers for their areas of responsibility in working towards the achievement of goals for the individual department(s) and the City of Glendale.
  • Manages the daily operations for the City of Glendale.
  • Serves as a member of the City’s top management team in establishing and maintaining good management policies and procedures.
  • Reviews the activities of the general operation to determine efficiency; confers and assists the City Manager in formulating a business strategy.
  • Advises the City Manager of issues and operational progress through oral and written reports.
  • Interprets and implements policies received from the City Manager and the City Council.  Provides administrative direction and support to staff in analyzing, developing, implementing and evaluating policies, programs and procedures.
  • Advises staff on major projects and in resolving conflicts and problems.
  • Represents and supports the policies of the city to members of the public, press, and civic groups.
  • Represent the City Manager during his/her absence.
  • Reviews annual city budget and makes recommendations to the City Manager

 “With these two appointments, the city is continuing to embark upon a continued direction of stability in our senior management organizational structure with seasoned professionals who have demonstrated a dedication to serving the public,” said Fischer. “Both Ms. Frisoni and Ms. Campbell share my vision and approach to local government management, including fiscal responsibility, open and transparent government, collaboration and excellent communication skills.”

The stage is now set and the cast of characters complete. At the helm is Brenda Fischer from the Town of Maricopa. Directly under her is Jennifer Campbell from the Town of Maricopa and Julie Frisoni, a member of former City Manager Ed Beasley’s “inner circle.” To round things out Michael Bailey is the new City Attorney. Bailey had or has close ties to former City Attorney Craig Tindall who sent the alleged and now infamous email solicitation on a city computer requesting consideration of his son when making a school tuition tax deductible donation. One of those on his recipient list was none other than…Michael Bailey. Add to this mix the new Executive Director of Finance, Tom Duensing, who also comes from the Town of Maricopa. The consolidation of power continues. Fischer has surrounded herself with former allies from Maricopa and others with ties to former City Manager regime. Those who have demonstrated records of competence and expertise, such as Stuart Kent, Jon Froke and Erik Strunk, are ignored. Palace intrigue has a new home and off with the heads of anyone who dares to challenge their agenda.

More disturbing is that these actions signal the end of an era in Glendale. For the 46 years that I have lived in Glendale, even when it experienced tremendous growth, it still retained a small, intimate hometown atmosphere. A good example is citizen volunteerism for city Boards and Commissions. For years council had no problem filling those positions and often had a waiting list. Why? Because people felt that they had the power to actually effectuate change. Their councilmembers and senior management staff were accessible to them and very responsive. They were not necessarily satisfied every time but response was immediate. There was a genuine connection between those who ran the city and those who lived in the city. Senior management staff often had lived in the city for years and had developed strong roots and a genuine interest in their community. All of that is gone. Today we have citizens with no deep ties to Glendale, expecting to move on because of job circumstances, familial reasons or simply with an itch to go someplace new to them. There is no cultivation of appreciation for Glendale and what it means in their lives. There is no waiting list to serve on a Board or Commission any longer. In fact, some volunteer positions go unfilled for extended periods of time.

Today we have senior management in positions of leadership with no historical memory of Glendale. You can see it when Tom Duensing is asked about transfers in previous years from the arts fund into the general fund and he has no clue, responding that he will have to get back to council after he has done some research on the issue. Gone are the Charlie McClendons, Paula Illardos, Grant Andersons, Jim Devines, David Prescotts, Ken Reedys, Rodeane Widoms, Lillian Hamiltons…who had a genuine love of Glendale, deep roots and vast historical memory.

Now those running Glendale consider it a “business.” The bottom line is paramount without any genuine sensitivity for how their decisions will impact the quality of life of its residents. Yes, they will probably dig Glendale out of its current fiscal crisis but at what cost to the heart and soul of a once great city renowned for its connection to its residents?

What about the current city council? So far they have abdicated their leadership roles to senior staff as they appear unable to come to grips with the fiscal crisis. Mayor Weiers tailors his actions to a reelection bid. Vice Mayor Knaack attempts to appease all. Councilmember Sherwood embraces the new “business” model. Councilmember Chavira is silent. Councilmember Alvarez is full of bitterness and negativism. Councilmember Hugh damaged by his close ties to Alvarez is ineffectual. Councilmember Martinez, as a lone voice, has flashes of remembrance of the essence of Glendale. None question or challenge deeply allowing themselves to be swept by the tide of fear that engulfs them. After all, it far easier to let senior staff make the decisions and simply accede to their recommendations. Ultimately council is responsible for the demise of Glendale as long time residents have known it and loved it. It is sad and deeply disappointing to watch events unfold. That is not to say change should not be embraced for change is necessary to survive. Will it be done with sensitivity and a velvet glove or bludgeon the city with a sledge hammer?

© Joyce Clark, 2014


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