The September 14, 2013 edition of the Glendale Republic reports that former Assistant City Manager Horatio Skeete and former Assistant Budget Director Don Bolton are appealing their terminations to the City’s Personnel Board (an advisory board of appointed citizens). Good for them. If there is any justice in this world they shouldn’t be left as the only fall guys (along with former Director of Finance Schurhammer and former Budget Director Goke). At the very least the City will have to back up and to prove its charges to the Personnel Board. There remains faint hope that the Attorney General’s office will bring charges against some of those who left before everything hit the fan. Based upon its track record in dismissing all recent Open Meeting Law violation complaints don’t hold your breath.
In City Manager Brenda Fischer’s termination letter to Skeete she says, “This action is based on your violation of city of Glendale policies and procedures. Specifically, the results of an external audit indicate that you were dishonest and misleading to the Glendale City Council on numerous occasions.” Whoo Hoo! If this is her reason for dismissal then there’s a long list of upper management personnel who fit the City Manager’s Bill of Particulars. As just one example, go all the way back to the “Indictment Period.” That was when the City Clerk told Councilmembers that they could backdate their signatures on their annual financial disclosure statements. If that wasn’t dishonest and misleading then there is no such thing. Councilmembers Eggleston, Goulette, Frate (each charged with 2 felonies; Goulette also received perjury charge) and Martinez (1 felony charge) apparently thought there was nothing wrong in doing so and followed her advice. In 2004 they were indicted by the Maricopa County Grand Jury along with the City Clerk Pam Hanna (9 felony charges) and were charged with violating financial disclosure laws, tampering with and destroying public records, perjury and presenting false instruments for filing. The charges were eventually dismissed on a technicality. They should be grateful not just for those “technicalities” but for the sharp attorneys who use them as a means of thwarting justice.
For a period of nearly 10 years, under City Manager Beasley, misleading and dishonesty appeared to have been practiced as fine arts. It became ingrained in the organization’s culture witnessed by directives limiting what a staffer could and could not say to a councilmember. It reached its peak not just with the 2009 dollar transfers from funds but with the 2012 internecine warfare between former City Attorney Tindall and former Assistant City Manager Skeete vying for Council’s appointment as Interim City Manager. Tindall’s faction appeared to have been particularly adept. Isn’t it ironic that the very people who supported Skeete now find their heads chopped off during Acting Assistant Manager Julie Frisoni’s watch? Frisoni was clearly a supporter of Tindall and I can remember attending an event at the city’s convention center when Frisoni and Fire Chief Burdick lobbied me to support Tindall as the Interim City Manager.
It is also mystifying that City Manager Fischer has announced that the city is dropping an investigation into policy violations outside the scope of the external audit. On August 2nd she announced such an investigation. A month later…poof! It’s gone. Such an investigation might have led to other policy violations by active personnel. It might have led to wholesale dismissals which she might not have been able to afford as a new city manager. If that is what is needed, so be it. When there is an infection it must be removed entirely or it just resurfaces somewhere else. Maybe there’s an unwritten code in the fraternity of city managers that says do no harm to past or present brethren. Who knows?
While all this turmoil occurs there is an entire cadre of Glendale personnel quietly doing their jobs to provide the best service possible to Glendale’s residents. They are the people who keep our water running, our streets safe and take care of our garbage and loose trash. They don’t earn the exorbitant salaries that make the newspapers. They are a quiet army that keeps a city running. They should not be smeared with this executive mismanagement paint brush. Many of them were shocked to learn what had occurred. They are to be recognized and thanked for their fierce commitment to Glendale and its residents. So, thank you to all of the City of Glendale employees who faithfully and loyally serve us all.
©Joyce Clark, 2013
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