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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

News headline announcing my candidacy several years ago

It’s Saturday afternoon and this morning I participated in the Third Annual Glendale Hometown Parade. I rode in a beautiful vintage blue Cadillac convertible. What a treat. This afternoon I should be baking Christmas cookies or doing my ‘homework’ in preparation for Council’s Strategic Policy Workshop this Monday or Tuesday’s Council Workshop meeting and subsequent evening voting meeting. I will do all of those things tomorrow. Instead, after nearly 2 years of serving as Glendale’s Yucca District Councilmember, I spent the afternoon reflecting about the past two years of my service and what my future should be.

When I began this current term I announced it would be my last. I assumed, incorrectly, that after 4 years of service I would experience diminishing capacity, physically and mentally. That has not happened. Every year I get my executive physical and each time I pass with flying colors. There has been no erosion of either my physical or mental capacities to do the job that you elected me to do.

I am announcing today that I will run for another term.

I have won some issues and lost some. I am most gratified that I have secured recognition for and a commitment to complete Heroes Park. I secured funding for the West Branch Library at Heroes Park and it is currently under construction and scheduled to open late March or mid-April of next year (2019). It is my intent to hold my next district-wide meeting at the newly opened library.

I do not intend to stop there. I plan to secure funding for the design of the lake feature in Heroes Park in our upcoming FY19-20 budget and to secure funding for its construction in the following FY 20-21 budget. After that there are still the ball fields, recreation center and library expansion to complete. Those are my goals.

I am proud to have gotten support of the entire council to start LED street light conversion immediately. That action saves the city about $700,000 in annual operating and maintenance costs for our street lights and results in an annual electrical rebate of nearly half a million dollars.

I am also proud of council’s approval of my initiative to start a Council Subcommittee on Business. The committee recently reviewed staff’s suggested amendments to the plumbing, electrical and fire codes resulting in the committee’s recommendations to delete or modify certain provisions all of which received acceptance from the entire city council. There is still more work to be done but the committee is making progress toward the goal of making Glendale more business friendly.

Council approved my request to use modified ‘Zero Based Budgeting’ to review selected departments during Council’s annual building of the city’s budget. This year it will be applied to the IT (technology) department and the Finance Department. It is a method of budget review that can result in greater fiscal efficiency.

My greatest disappointment has been a majority of council’s approval of the amended Stonehaven residential project located from Bethany to Camelback and 83rd to 91st  Avenues. The approval by a majority of council for small lot sizes of 3,000 and 3,500 to be located north of Camelback is clearly detrimental to all those who live adjacent to or near this planned development.

Perhaps the only good to come out of this project will be at the start of the project’s development — Bethany Home Road between 83rd and 91st Avenues will be constructed. That may help to alleviate some of the tremendous traffic we experience on Camelback Road. In the next 2 years Camelback between 91st Avenue and the Loop 101 will be redesigned and reconstructed to mitigate (as much as possible) the traffic in that area.

There is still much to do to advance the interests of our district and the city. Two areas of concern are the performance of the city’s code department and continued pressure to develop vacant, infill parcels in the district.

I am pleased that I will be serving on the newly created Code Compliance Committee and look forward helping to improve the code department’s poor and inconsistent performance seen in so many parts of Glendale.

 Land development is oft times a harder nut to crack. If a property owner sells a piece of land and the developer builds to the current property’s zoning it is impossible to stop that private commerce. However, I have been successful in gaining many developers’ agreement (which does not have to be granted) to build mixed sized projects that include not just standard lot sizes but larger lot sizes within their projects.

There is much to be done to keep Glendale and the Yucca District moving forward in a positive direction. I am thankful that I have had an opportunity to shape policy thus far and look forward to continuing to make both the best they can be.

I will establish a political action committee (PAC) in January of 2019 and begin fund raising for the campaign ahead. I ask for your support by donating to my campaign or volunteering to help me as I walk neighborhoods. As I move forward I will establish a secure method of online donation.  I am always available for small neighborhood or HOA meetings. Just call and I will be there.

I would appreciate seeing your comments regarding my announcement. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and to represent you. It has been and continues to be my honor and privilege. I will continue to do the very best job that I can.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

 

Koi in November

Posted by Joyce Clark on November 26, 2018
Posted in City of Glendalefish pondKoi pond  | Tagged With: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I haven’t posted an update on my Koi pond in several months. It seemed like a good time to do so in between all of the contentious issues council must decide upon…Glen Lakes Golf Course, Manistee Ranch proposed apartment development, Brown lot development and Thunderbird campus development. All are important issues with Glendale citizens weighing in on them daily.

Our Koi are growing by leaps and bounds. Naturally we wouldn’t take them out of the water to weigh and measure them. That would stress them for no good reason. So I will estimate.

Here is Ming, a Butterfly Koi. Yes, we have named nearly everyone of our 30 Koi. If you can see it there is a small black fish swimming above Ming’s head. It is a Gambusia or Mosquito fish. Its purpose is to eat mosquito larvae. We introduced about a dozen of them into the pond years ago and seem to host a constant population of about a hundred of them at any given time. Ming was the first fish we put into the pond about 5 years ago. This was after refilling the pond when I had added so many chemicals to rid the pond of algae and killed off the few fish that I had. I let the new pond water settle and age, if you will. Then I placed a 3” to 5” Ming into the pond as a sacrificial test to see if the pond water was healthy enough. Ming survived and thrived and is the oldest of all of the Koi. I estimate that Ming is probably about 3 feet long and weighs in at 10 to 15 pounds.

Next up is Mud Puddle, a Standard Koi.  My son picked this fish about 3 years ago because of its copper coloring…after all, Arizona is known for its copper mining. Mud Puddle is one of the last fish we acquired and is a hog. He eats all the time. He can be seen grazing on the algae on the rocks all day long. His prolific eating has caused him to grow and outpace many of his brothers and sisters purchased at the same time. Mud Puddle is slightly smaller than Ming. Probably about 2 feet long and coming in around 10 pounds.

Then there is Convict, another Standard Koi.  My husband named him thus because he is black and white reminding my husband of prison uniforms. Convict is one of the bravest and the nosiest of the Koi. When I go to the edge of the pond to trim vegetation he will cruise on over to see who’s there and what is happening. Convict is about 2 ½ feet long and between 10 and 15 pounds.

The last of today’s lineup is Spine. Spine got its name from the black markings on the top of his back that look like a rendering of a human spine. It, too, is a Butterfly Koi with its long flowing fins. He is about 3 feet long and also comes in between 10 and 15 pounds.

Since I changed the water 5 years ago and introduced our Koi I have not lost one…knock wood. They are disease free and never appear to be plagued with the numerous problems that can affect Koi fish.

This is the time of year that I cut back on the amount of food they are fed. Several years ago, I had fish jumping out of the water. It’s called “flashing.” Some were also swimming in strange ways such as upside down. I went to my favorite reference, Google, and decided that I was giving them too much food in the winter time. They simply couldn’t digest all that I was feeding them. I cut their food down to half of what they are fed in the summer and the flashing and strange swimming behaviors stopped. If any are still hungry and it’s usually Mud Puddle, they can graze on algae on the rocks.

We love our Koi Pond.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Ever since I returned to city council two years ago, in December of 2016, I have been sorely disappointed in the inconsistent performance of one city department, Code.  I am sure I will hear from my city manager about once again publicly expressing concern about the work of a group of city employees. However, some situations beg to be discussed and this is one of those.

A little history on the Code Department is in order. When I first served on council in 1992 the performance of the Code Department was not good. Employee abuses included taking extraordinarily long lunch breaks and when they were in the field they earned the reputation of being “Gestapo-like.” Eventually the department was reorganized and a new director took the helm. That was Dan Gunn. Mr. Gunn did an excellent job of turning the department around and for years, under his leadership, code performed at a high level of achievement. When I returned code was once again in disarray.  Over the past few budget cycles council allocated more resources and personnel in order to help the department succeed once again.

Those actions have not borne the fruit council expected. I have seen situations that I can only describe as retaliation against our citizens and cases of inconsistent enforcement of the Code Department dependent upon where you live in the city.

I am aware of two cases that can only be described as retaliation. In one case the resident, in an effort to clean up a blighted south Glendale neighborhood, reached out to councilmembers for assistance. That action of taking it to councilmembers resulted in the citizen being cited for minor violations while much graver neighborhood issues were ignored.  It appeared to be a case of retaliation.

In another case, as a result of a neighborhood dispute now being adjudicated in court, one litigant, a neighbor began calling in continuous code complaints. Code’s actions in enforcing those harassment complaints flies in the face of their unstated policy that when a situation is in litigation they back off and let the police department and the courts settle the matter. That is not what occurred in this case.

In this case, the citizen (a Vietnam vet) who has an injunction to prevent further harassment by his neighbor is being cited for an inoperable vehicle that has been repurposed as “yard art” and for having a flag pole greater than 6 feet tall.

As I said in a recent city council workshop on the issue of placing a permanent flag pole and American flag on Thunderbird Mountain, “I can’t imagine any place where the flying of the American flag is inappropriate.”

Did you know that historically only 38 permits at a cost of $230 each have been issued and those, in the majority, were for commercial properties?  Nearly every Glendale resident who has a flag pole 6 feet or taller has no blinkin’ idea that a permit is even required, much less the cost of such a permit. Some residents, such as myself, had a flag pole greater than 6 feet when the home was purchased in 1998. I assume that it is grandfathered in but I certainly had no idea about code restrictions on resident flag poles. Here is ours. By the way, the resident has taken down the flag pole.

As for “yard art,” all art, as we well know, is subjective…very, very subjective. What is art to one person may be an abomination to another. The resident took an old, antique truck and spent about $3,000 to have it repurposed as an art piece and placed in his front yard. It was his art. By the way the property in question in the northern portion of the city is a ½ to 1 acre horse property (exactly as is mine). No one complained and in fact, passers-by would stop to have their photo taken with the “art truck.” Once again, the neighbor with an injunction for harassment called code and complained. The only rule upon which code could hang its hat was that the vehicle is ‘inoperable’.  By the way, I have antique tractor equipment as “yard art”. It’s definitely inoperable and again, probably grandfathered in since it has been there since the house was built. Here is our ‘yard art’. 

I find code’s actions to be astounding when at every council voting meeting, a citizen comes forward during the public comment period and brings photos of rampant illegal parking of inoperable vehicles in his south Glendale neighborhood resulting in little if any enforcement. If parking an inoperable vehicle is a code violation in one area of the city then code should be enforcing it throughout the city. It is not doing so per the citizen who regularly brings the situation to council’s attention at its voting meetings.

Today people are more affluent and often have several vehicles in addition to the fact there are often multiple families or extended relatives living at a home. Hence many have more than two vehicles resulting in on-street parking (which is OK) or parking all over the front yard, often on dirt or grass (which is not OK). It makes Glendale look trashy and blighted. No one would complain if the code for inoperable vehicles was being administered fairly and equitably throughout the city.

There are code regulations to prohibit this behavior as well as others. The problem remains inequitable enforcement, selective enforcement or no enforcement at all in areas of need. It is frustrating to not just the citizens who want their neighborhoods cleaned up but to the councilmembers and their assistants receiving complaints on a daily basis. It is a situation that had been resolved in years past and has now deteriorated once again.

This situation has prompted the creation of a Code Review Committee comprised of councilmembers and citizens. It is scheduled to start its work after the holidays. As a member of the committee I am confident that we will recommend changes to the code department’s operations and to city code as well. I am also confident that a majority of council will concur with the committee’s recommendations. Currently code’s enforcement is an untenable situation that cannot, and must not, continue.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Tomorrow, Monday evening, November 19, 2018, at 6 PM in Council Chambers councilmembers will host a public forum to hear the voices of our community regarding not just the fate of Glen Lakes Golf Course but commentary regarding the city’s park system.

Council will not be there to respond or to defend any position but rather to listen to you. I believe this is a very consequential event. In my 17 years on city council I do not remember such a call to the people. As I said in a previous blog one either changes, adapts or dies. The city is changing in an attempt to become more open. Do we succeed all of the time? No, but we are trying. It’s an exercise akin to turning the Titanic. It’s a difficult and exceedingly slow process.

The issue before us is, of course, the fate of Glen Lakes Golf Course. There are equally valid arguments representing both sides. Perhaps the most compelling for those supporting the continuance of the golf course is the loss of major green space within our city. An equally valid argument for those opposed to keeping the course open is that the money required can be used throughout the city’s park system.

I would observe that when you speak on Monday evening it is unproductive to use your limited citizen speakers’ time to revisit history and cast blame upon the city for a lack of maintenance of the facility. Please do not squander your opportunity to share your opinion. I acknowledge that a lack of maintenance occurred. However, it was not the only city asset that suffered from a lack of maintenance. In addition to years of lack of maintenance of city facilities there were many projects deferred including the build out of parks and fire stations that needed renovation.

Council will be asked to decide whether to establish temporary facilities at the course with the goal of repairing permanent structures and keeping the course or whether to close the facility and sell the land using the proceeds for our entire park system. It is a difficult decision and one about which I continue to solicit information.

The opportunity to listen to the public representing all areas of Glendale is a very valuable chance for me to hear from those within the community with whom I might not have heard from previously. Citizens will have 3 minutes to speak. Think about the most important point you want to make. Prepare your remarks in order to be as effective as possible.

I received an email from a Glendale citizen that conveys the importance of this coming Monday evening and I share it with you:

“There is a group called Save Glen Lakes and they have been trying to avoid the For Sale sign going up at Glen Lakes Golf Course. This past Wednesday the Glendale City Council has given us, the citizens; a not very often granted Citizen’s Public Forum. Not only are they asking for input about the Glen Lakes Golf Course, but they want all citizens in Glendale to come forth and express their ideas about Glen Lakes and other projects having to do with Parks in Glendale.

I would strongly recommend attending the Monday night meeting just to show your concern and respect for the City we all live in.

Meeting is: Monday, November 19, 2018 at 6:00 P.M.

Location is: City Council Chambers. 5850 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, AZ

If you are unable to attend the meeting please email your comments to parksfunding@glendaleaz.com

Or: Leave a message with your comments on the dedicated comment hotline at 623‐930‐2740.

Your comments will be included in the public record.”

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

 I felt compelled to react to Bill Toops’, Glendale Star’s Administrator, editorial of November 15, 2018, regarding downtown Glendale. Here is the link: https://www.glendalestar.com/glendale-star/downtown-dissidents-nix-city-manager%E2%80%99s-vision . Mr. Toops said, “In a Nov. 2, 2018 letter to the mayor and City Council, Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said he’s had enough opposition from downtown merchants to shift the focus of city resources elsewhere. While detailing a number of significant accomplishments since his hire in February 2016, the continuing frustration from a vocal band of naysayers has effectively halted his efforts to pursue a new strategy for the city’s downtown district.”

I support our City Manager’s take on downtown Glendale.  Here is the link to his comments regarding Glendale and downtown: https://www.glendalestar.com/glendale-star/city-manager-shifts-economic-focus-away-downtown .

 There is an old saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” For years…no, for decades… the city has underwritten 3 major festival events downtown – Glendale Glitters, Glendale Glow and the Chocolate Affaire. Granted these festivals bring shoppers to downtown for a brief period and I suspect during those few weeks they generate as much as 70% of a downtown merchant’s annual net. But at what point do diminishing returns set in? I contend they already have.

The downtown merchants have been content to allow the city to do the heavy lifting. In what other area of the city does our government finance any major festivals especially for the benefit of private businesses? Arrowhead Mall area? Westgate area? Nope.

Successful businesses and downtowns are constantly reinventing themselves by changing what they offer and how they do business offering the customer a new, fresh, convenient and relevant experience. If downtown merchants don’t embrace change they will be swept aside by, among other things, internet shopping. The change required for downtown is to offer experiences that cannot be acquired by shopping on the net.

Has it occurred to anyone that as Westgate grows always seeking new entities within it, that it has a direct impact on downtown? What will motivate anyone to go downtown when they can go to a sporting event, a movie, shop at Tanger Outlets or dine at a dozen different restaurants? What will downtown offer to attract those very same people? To make them want to visit downtown as part of their Glendale experience?

The city manager came to Glendale three years ago and offered a fresh look at many things, including downtown. His proposal was designed to create a destination location all year long. Instead a small group of perhaps twenty downtown merchants, newly created as the Historical Downtown Merchants Association, protested in horror at the very thought of change. I should note that there are over 250 downtown merchants yet this small handful was silently allowed by the majority to determine the destiny of all.

Mr. Toops goes on to observe, “While many downtown merchants prefer to hang their financial solvency on a handful of mega events they say ensure throngs of visitors over two weeks’ time, city management sees greater value in scaling events back and adding frequency, up to 150 annually. Further, merchant perspectives tend to support little or no change to the traditional festival concept with the exception of additional funding, yet city management contends downtown Glendale needs an entirely new direction for long-term prosperity.” The city was willing to invest in innovation and change while using its success as a catalyst to attract new, vibrant business entities. A relatively small group killed the concept.

So the city will continue to pour $1.2 million annually into the downtown sieve but it has also announced that this amount will remain constant and not increase. Mr. Toops rightly observes, “While many merchants may be pleased with this decision for now, rising costs within a fixed budget will only serve to erode the glitz and glitter of every event and the commensurate draw from each.” Add to this observation that other cities have created their own events that now directly compete with the 3 events hosted by Glendale government.

Downtown saw its last “hey day” when it had over 100 antique shops. It was the antique capital of the west. Visitors could be seen going from one shop to another, even on the hottest days of summer. But that is long gone with only a few antique shops remaining.  It has become stale and tired with no destination to attract those same visitors.

Make no mistake. I want a proud downtown bustling with visitors and shoppers. We all do. I want to able to boast about its vibrancy instead of apologizing because a visitor went to a restaurant during the week only to find it closed because there was not enough business to warrant it being open. What a sad state of affairs.

When will a majority of its 250 merchants embrace change? When will they reclaim their voice instead of allowing a few, very vocal merchants clinging to the status quo determine their destiny? When will they realize the insanity of repeating the same thing expecting a different result? When will they realize that we’re all in this together eager and willing to work toward reinventing a vibrant, successful and proud downtown?

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On November 3, 2018, I was invited to attend a very special event. Aspen Dental opened an office in Westgate earlier this year and was host to the national Aspen Dental’s Healthy Mouth Movement. Since 2014, Aspen Dental has sent a specially equipped van throughout the county to provide free dental care to veterans and people in need.

On that day, the Westgate office and Midwestern students offered free dental care from 9 AM to 5 PM to about 34 patients. It was amazing to see the compassion and care offered not just in the two spaces within the van itself but also in every space within the Westgate office. The total amount of care donated that day was $20,701.00.

Why is this important service so needed? We are a nation of about 320 million people and last year nearly 150 million Americans did not visit a dentist. That’s almost half of our entire population! Some of us with relatively healthy teeth don’t go until we have a toothache or similar problem…even though we should have a yearly check up. Many simply cannot afford to go because of the cost, lack of insurance or downright fear of the dentist.

Our teeth are probably one of the most critical factors in determining our quality of life. Bad teeth means no smile, no interaction with those around you, leading to social isolation.  Bad teeth means that you can’t eat properly affecting your diet and overall health, leading to illness that may not have needed to occur.

Hence Aspen Dental’s initiative to give back to our communities nation-wide. In addition to the mobile van Aspen hosts a Day of Service. Local Aspen practices throughout the county host veterans exclusively and offer care at no cost. They also try to connect the vet with free or low cost future services to take care of their dental needs. Since 2014, over 4,300 vets have received service.

For more information go to: https://www.aspendental.com/about/healthy-mouth-movement .

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

About a month ago we all received our latest property tax bill from the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office. Included in the billing are the amounts in your individualized bill that are received by various governmental and school institutions.

My bill went up by 6.7% due to a strong economy that is increasing property valuations. Take a look at the graphics that are provided in every bill:

I happen to live in the Pendergast Elementary School District and the Tolleson Union High School District. In 2018 I will pay the Pendergast Elementary School District $1,261.57 or 44% of my entire property tax bill. I will pay another $835.84 or 29% to the Tolleson Union High School District. The Maricopa Community College District gets $258.63 or 9% and West-Mec receives $28.10 or .009%. Education represents about 82% of all of the property tax that I pay.

Maricopa County’s General Fund and Special Districts account for $391.23 or 13%. The City of Glendale receives $371.64 or 13% of my total property tax bill. Since the city has not increased the property tax levy my payment to the city decreased by 36 cents. Surely it’s not much but at least the city is holding the line while the school districts and county levies have increased from .4% to a high of 29.4% (Tolleson).

 In Glendale your property tax payment goes into its General Fund. The General Fund supports Public Safety and represents a minimum of 75% of the entire General Fund. So, 75% of your property tax payment supports the police and fire protection you receive. The remaining 25% supports Parks and Recreation, Code Enforcement and a myriad of other services you, as a Glendale resident, receive. It is also used to pay off bond debt for projects that may have been completed years ago as bonds usually pay off in 20 or 30 years.

In the Yucca district of Glendale, which I represent, I was surprised that neither the Pendergast Elementary School District nor the Tolleson Union High School District objected to the tremendous increase in their student enrollment that will come as a result of the city approval of Stonehaven, a residential community of about 1,360 homes. I used an estimated average figure of $1,000 for the elementary district in annual property tax per home and $800 for the high school district. To my surprise the Pendergast Elementary School District will receive an estimated $1.3 million dollars annually in property tax from the Stonehaven residents and the Tolleson Union High School District will get an estimated $1 million dollars a year. No wonder both school districts didn’t object to the horrible density in Stonehaven. Each home represents about $800 to $1,000 a year in property tax.

I think there are questions for these school districts. If, on average, they receive an average of $1,000 a year in property tax from each and every home and they receive funding from the state as well (Remember RED for ED?), where is all of the money going? And for what?

The annual Quality Counts report by Education Week study found Arizona ranked No. 46 in 2018. The ranking earned the state a D+ grade, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Arizona’s ranking has remained pretty consistent in the last 10 years, sometimes moving up or down by a number or two in ranking. We continue to throw money at public education and nothing seems to change. Everyone is willing to contribute to educational funding but that support diminishes over time when the results remain consistently abysmal. When we actually see the money going toward teacher pay and the students?

There are many other factors other than money that affect the quality of education in Arizona. Too many to discuss here. They need to be addressed.

Glendale residents you get a lot of bang for your property taxpayer buck. The average of $300 to $400 a year that you contribute provides the services upon which you rely every day. Looks like a good deal.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

The choice for a new Mayor of Phoenix is less than 2 weeks away.  I really have no dog in the fight regarding the Phoenix mayoral election but I was intrigued by a recent opinion piece by Robert Robb in the Arizona Republic questioning why the position of Phoenix mayor should be a full time job. In an October 14, 2018 column entitled Here’s why Phoenix needs a part-time mayor Mr. Robb states, “Making decisions about overall policies that put city government on a stable and sustainable path, rather than temporizing and punting, is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be terribly time-consuming.” He goes on to say, “The only way to turn the mayor position, and the city council position as well, into a full-time job is to expand its activities to include political pursuits only marginally related to the charter function of setting sound overall policy.” Here is the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/robertrobb/2018/10/14/phoenix-mayor-should-part-time-daniel-valenzuela-right/1606614002/ .

One can understand Mr. Robb’s point of view if you accept that he an outsider looking in. His premise is that all activities unrelated to establishing city policy are purely political in nature with the ultimate goal of furthering the elected official’s political career and agenda.

So, Mr. Robb, when an elected official sits on a regional or local committee or board, according to your premise it’s only to advance a political career and not to represent or advance the interests of or the position of that community? Really? So when the elected official sits on a council subcommittee it’s only to advance a political career and not to represent or advance the interests of the represented constituency? Really? So when the elected official is invited to a neighborhood meeting or a local event it’s only to advance a political career and not to communicate with one’s constituency? Really?

There are many events and activities that are outside the scope of sitting at a dais and voting on policy. There’s also a great deal of ‘homework’ for the conscientious elected official to research and consider before casting that policy vote.

Seventeen years ago when I was first elected as a city councilmember it was a part time job and I received commensurate part time compensation. Over the years the job has grown in the complexity of the policy issues about which we decide as well as time spent on regional cooperation and constituency services on a one-to-one basis. In a large city it can no longer be considered a part time job. Then magnify the responsibilities of a councilmember for that of a mayor of a large city. It is most definitely a full time job that admittedly has the elected official pursuing some political agenda but predominately serving the needs of the city and its constituents.

The past mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, received a salary of $88,000 a year. I do not know if he received a cell phone or car allowance but benefits would include at a minimum, medical benefits and a city contribution to his pension.  If the Phoenix mayoral position is considered as a part time job surely the compensation would reflect that as well. A salary of $88,000 a year plus benefits is more than many Phoenicians earn. So, Mr. Robb, a part time job deserves a part time salary.

This issue is pertinent because on October 4th, Valenzuela’s campaign made the following announcement, “I will put my firefighter career on hold during my term if elected as Mayor of Phoenix.” Apparently the candidate has tacitly recognized that being the Mayor of one of the largest cities in the country is a full time job.

His announcement raises a whole new set of questions. What does putting his Glendale fire fighting career on “hold” mean exactly? Is he proposing a sabbatical or leave? With or without pay? When he decides to resume his fire fighting career would there have to be a city commitment offering him his job back immediately?

Nearly every city will grant sabbatical or leave time. It has been typically and historically used and granted to city personnel called up to active military duty, short sabbaticals for research, maternity leave, etc. To my knowledge sabbaticals and leaves have never been granted for a strictly political reason such as holding elected office or for such a long time…4 years. Phoenix voters and Glendale taxpayers have the right to know exactly what putting Valenzuela’s career on hold entails. The voters should know whether they are really getting a full time mayor. The taxpayers of Glendale should know if Valenzuela will continue to receive his current salary if he is on “hold” and if his “hold” time impacts his pension.

There was one other comment made by Mr. Robb in his opinion piece that was of interest and that was, “Valenzuela is the candidate of the status quo powers: the firefighters union and the business community. As mayor, he is unlikely to rock many boats.” This is probably the understatement of all time. He is more likely to advance the firefighters union and business community agenda. After all, they will have brought him to the dance.

Mr. Valenzuela’s campaign has relied heavily on his position as a Glendale firefighter. His campaign signs shout fire fighter. His campaign website has photos with Glendale fire trucks at one of the city’s fire stations. How can one tell? Glendale fire vehicles are yellow and Phoenix fire vehicles are red.

Is this a violation of the federal Hatch Act? I’m not an attorney so obviously I don’t know. But here is some background on the Hatch Act. It is a federal law passed in 1939. It limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as some state, D.C., and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. ​In 1940, the law was expanded to cover state and local employees whose salaries are paid, in part, by federal funds or whose duties are connected to federally funded activities. The Supreme Court has on two occasions upheld its constitutionality. It prohibits the use of government resources or position to affect the results of an election.

Over the years the Glendale Fire Department has been the recipient of federal grants. The most notable and frequently received have been the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grants, just one of a menu of Homeland Security grants available to cities. It would seem that Mr. Valenzuela has participated in or benefitted from UASI grants and that his duties are and have been, from time to time during his 15 years as a Glendale fire fighter, connected to federally funded activities. Therefore the use of government assets and equipment for his campaign could be a Hatch Act Violation.

It is up to the Phoenix voter to decide whether you will be getting the benefit of a part time or full time mayor. It’s up to the Phoenix voter to decide whether Mr. Valenzuela’s use of Glendale resources to tout his position as a fire fighter in his campaign is appropriate.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Since city council sold the St. Vincent de Paul building in downtown Glendale to C Plus D Industry in September questions have arisen about the deal. In 2008 the city purchased the building and a nearby parking lot for $735,000 with the goal of future redevelopment. For ten years it sat vacant, slowly continuing to deteriorate. At the time of purchase, no one on city council expected to recoup the purchase price and innately acknowledged that the city would have to incentivize any resale of the building.

Councilmember Ray Malnar and I submitted an Op Ed to the Glendale Star on this subject. Here is the link: https://www.glendalestar.com/glendale-star/st-vincent-de-paul-building-package-bow-deal-or-down-heel-deal .

In a recent news story Cheryl Kappes, owner of the Country Maiden, said she would have bought the building. Another downtown property owner, Richard Vangelisti, expressed the same sentiment. Keep in mind the true cost of the building is not just the $25,000.  It is the sales price plus the cost of the renovation and a commitment to do so promptly.  In the ten years, from 2008 to 2018, anyone could have approached the city and made an offer on the property. No one did. They may have thought about it but they never took that first major step of contacting the city with a written offer. Such an offer to purchase the property would have included a commitment toward making a significant investment to renovate the building resulting in a tax revenue producing business downtown. C Plus D Industry took that chance by making an offer that could have been rejected. They were the first to try. Now that it has been sold, suddenly there are cries of a lack of “transparency.”

What exactly did the city sell for $25,000? It sold a 60 year old building requiring total restoration with no dedicated parking. According to a Facility Management Group analysis submitted to the city in October of 2017, “It is a building that requires complete restoration. Everything but the roof structure, exterior walls and floor slab will need to be replaced.”

The Facility Management Group analysis offers an estimate of $1,225,000 to renovate the 7,000 square foot building. It goes on to report that an estimated $1,750,000 would be required to tear the building down and build a new 7,000 square foot building.

In a report prepared by Lisa Amos, Glendale’s Real Estate Program Manager, dated June 15, 2018, “If this building were in good condition and had parking, @ $40/sq ft, it could list for $280,000.” But it’s not in good condition, is 60 years old, requires a complete renovation and has no parking.

It is unrealistic to expect a retail or office developer to purchase a building with no parking spaces. Ms. Amos, in her report, states that, “Demolition was estimated at $5.00/sq ft = $35,000.” Her conclusions were, “City contribution to improvement of building condition, including new build, will not yield return at sale” or “Demolish and sell land or accept nominal sale price if Buyer accepts ‘as is’ including no parking.”

What did the city accomplish with this sale? It avoided renovation at a price of $1.2M; it avoided tearing down the building and constructing new at a cost of $1.7M; and it avoided demolition costs of $35,000.

What does the city get for selling the building for $25,000? Keep in mind, C Plus D Industry came to the city and offered to buy the building ‘as is’ while committing to renovate the building to code at a substantial cost to them, not the city. They will maintain a small showroom expecting a minimal amount of local foot traffic and will sell on site but their primary focus is on the manufacture and sale of high end furniture nationally.

An added benefit is that the city has collected zero taxes on this property for many years. Current city estimates are that C Plus D will increase taxes collected from just this one project in downtown Glendale by 10%.

C Plus D are not professional investors. As part of their commitment to the city, they must renovate within 6 months bringing it up to code. The sale is not final until they receive a Certificate of Occupancy. The city estimate to renovate is over one million dollars. That’s at city cost. C Plus D expects the renovation to cost them between $350,000 and $500,000. They won’t be paying city prices to renovate and they will also contribute sweat equity.

Keep in mind the city is not selling its parking lot which was part of the original 2008 $735,000 purchase price. Lastly, according to Ms. Amos in the above cited report, the assumption is that once the building is renovated and if it had parking, it could be listed for $280,000. Without dedicated parking, the sale price would obviously be lower than that figure.

Senior management and city council concluded that this was a good deal for Glendale’s taxpayers. There was no special treatment for the buyer.  The property was sold for what it was worth. It was simply a business opportunity brought to the city that senior management and city council concluded was a good deal for Glendale’s taxpayers.

As for transparency, city land sales are rightly, according to the state’s Open Meeting Law, a subject for discussion in city council executive sessions. In a recent news story Councilmember Turner said, “It’s not always just about getting the highest dollar. But we can have a process that is open, transparent and still accomplishes our vision.” In the same story Councilmember Aldama said, “The city should be transparent in everything it does and everything it does should benefit the citizens. In hindsight, I don’t feel this sale benefits the citizens.” Their comments are disingenuous and provocative.  Both of these gentlemen know that land transactions are subjects for executive session to protect the city’s position.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Recently the Arizona Republic aired a story about the city’s sale of the St. Vincent de Paul building implying that something nefarious occurred. Expect me to post a blog very soon laying out the facts behind that sale.

The latest story from the same news media implies that the city may be preparing to enact the same methodology of sale with the Brown lot. The Brown lot, located south of Kellis High School and east of 91st Avenue, is called that because it had been used by the city to provide color coded parking for the State Farm Stadium. With the development of the Black lot south of the stadium the Brown lot is no longer needed.

In a recent story a reporter says the following with regard to the Brown lot, “A City Council member said she expects a developer to build apartments on the high-profile corner near the city’s sports and entertainment district.” The reporter went on to say, “About a month later, Councilwoman Joyce Clark wrote a blog post about how she expected apartments to come to the site of the old parking lot, which is on that intersection’s southeast corner”.

 Here is what I really said in a September 18, 2018 blog entitled,  Apartments in Yucca district? “Another possible site for an apartment complex is the city-owned Brown lot north of the Provence subdivision. In this case an apartment complex is appropriate for the location.” I did not say that apartments would be built on the Brown lot. I speculated that it is possible…not a certainty.

Since there are apartments to be constructed on 95th Avenue across from the Super WalMart, I expressed thoughts in my blog about the possibility of any other locations within the district that might be suitable. The only one I could think of was the Brown lot. Does that mean it is happening? No. It means I thought it could be a possibility. Do I have any definitive knowledge that there will be apartments on this site? The answer is a simple ‘no’.

Then the reporter says, “Clark told The Republic that, at the time of her blog post, the council hadn’t discussed the site in executive session. But that contradicts a statement she made on her Facebook page as she responded to someone about her blog post. She wrote there that she couldn’t give details about the asking price of the land because ‘that is executive session information’.” 

This one is on me because I didn’t make myself clear in a response to a Facebook query. Someone asked what the sale price of the Brown lot was with this question, “Its 17 acres. What are we asking for it Joyce?” My answer was, “I am sorry that is Executive Session information and under state law I may not discuss.” My answer was not precise or clear. In my mind I was answering broadly and generally to indicate that prices of any city owned land are executive session discussions. It was not intended to be a confirmation (or a denial) that a Brown lot sale price had been discussed in executive session.

I contend that the reporter was also not precise in reporting on what I said, wrote or didn’t say, write.

I bring these items to your attention because the news media often slants a story. It’s understandable. They need a “hook” to entice the reader. If you have ever been interviewed by a reporter and then see the subsequent story, you might have remarked, but I didn’t say that.

 I didn’t say that apartments are coming to the Brown lot in my blog. It was mere speculation.  I didn’t affirm or deny in answering a Facebook question that the price of the Brown lot had been discussed in executive session. Those were inferences made by the reporter. Unfortunately they were not accurate inferences. What’s new? It happens all the time. I guess we might understand when the news media is called the “fake news.”

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

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