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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 17 years and 158 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

At 6 PM on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 the Glendale city council will meet to consider and vote upon an action to cancel the current Lease Management Agreement with IceArizona. Here is the only item on the agenda:

“DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION TO DIRECT THE CITY MANAGER AND CITY ATTORNEY TO CANCEL THE PROFESSIONAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES AND ARENA LEASE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF GLENDALE AND ICEARIZONA MANAGER CO., LLC AND ICEARIZONA HOCKEY CO., LLC, PURSUANT TO ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES § 38-511, AND TO PURSUE ANY AND ALL OTHER LEGAL ACTIONS AND REMEDIES NECESSARY TO EFFECTUATE CANCELLATION OR TERMINATION OF THE AGREEMENT.”

There are rumors flying furiously on Twitter, Facebook, etc. speculating on the reason for the possible cancellation. That’s all they are…rumors. I can affirm that the reason has nothing to do with the infamous audit or the brough ha ha over naming rights. I have agreed to not say anything further until after the council meeting.

Don’t expect Councilmember Sherwood to be at this meeting or call in. Apparently he will be in Salt Lake City tomorrow. How convenient especially if the deal he brokered blows up. His pals (Chavira and Aldama), or as all three call themselves, the “Tres Amigos” (I like Three Stooges better), will have to vote without their “jefe” to keep them in line. Oh oh…

Bring your seat cushions for tomorrow night’s meeting folks. Expect it to be a long one with every possible Coyote fan in attendance reiterating over and over again how stupid this council is. Has it occurred to anyone that they couldn’t be that stupid if they have discovered a way out of the current contract?

You will see the agenda item makes specific reference to Arizona Revised Statutes § 38-511. I suggest anyone that is interested in this issue take the time to read it.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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 17 years and 155 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

As a registered “Interested Party” in Glendale I, along with other Glendale residents, receive notifications of zoning & rezoning applications, conditional use permits, variances, etc. You can be added to the Interested Parties list by contacting Glendale’s Planning Department. Today I received the following letter and I quote the letter in its entirety:

May 26, 2015

Tony Frye                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         6512  N. Sarival Ave.                                                                                                         Litchfield Park, AZ  85340                                                                                                                         Fax: 623-935-5377

Dear Neighbor:

This letter is to inform you that I am applying for a rezoning application with the City of Glendale. The property is at 6502 North Sarival Avenue in the Yucca District.

Our family property sits on 60 acres with ample exposure to the new Loop 303 freeway. The current zoning is rural due to the farming that has dominated this area for generations. The new freeways brings more uses in the realm of Possibility, which is why we are asking for a rezoning of our property to permit and M-1 (light industrial) zoning category. This zoning category provides us the most flexibility when it comes to potential uses. ADOT has estimated that 13,000 motorists use the Loop 303 today and that number is only going to rise exponentially over the next 20 years. Our aim is to acquire the property rights to construct two billboards along the Loop 303 frontage which will provide the opportunity for advertisers to highlight some of the upcoming commercial developments that are helping bring aware to the west valley cities (i.e. Vistancia, New Auto Mall and 1.3 million sqft (sic) retail development).

Please write, fax or call me at the contact information above. You may also contact Thomas Ritz with the City of Glendale at 623-930-2588.

Sincerely,

Tony Frye

The land in question sits at Glendale Avenue and the Loop 303 and is within Luke Air Force Base’s 65 LDN.  The rezoning requested is appropriate for land within Luke’s noise contours. The problem is the applicant is not presenting a development package for the land. All the applicant wants is the right to plant billboards on the land now. It is presumed that the land will continue to be used for agriculture.

I don’t believe city council has had an opportunity to address the issue of billboards along the Loop 303. It may be appropriate in some spots along the freeway and not appropriate in other spots. Until Glendale adopts a design plan for the Loop 303 corridor this rezoning consideration and approval is premature.

It appears as if the Becker Billboards application will indeed be precedent setting if approved by city council on June 23, 2015. As a Glendale resident feel free to contact Thomas Ritz, Glendale’s Senior Planner at tritz@glendaleaz.com . Direct your comments not only to the Planning Department but to the citizen Planning & Zoning Commission as well.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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 17 years and 154 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Last night , June 4, 2015, the Glendale citizens’ Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Commission met to approve or deny the second round of Becker Billboards’ application to plant billboards at Loop 101 and Bell Road.  The first round occurred on February 26, 2014 with a recommendation of denial by P&Z followed by the March 25, 2014 denial by the city council. Let’s hope that city council also denies this request.

The staff presenter was Senior Planner Thomas Ritz. In summary the Planning & Zoning Department was recommending denial of the application because:

  • It does not serve the best long term interests of the city
  • It is inconsistent with the city’s General Plan
  • The specifics filed by the applicant do not match Glendale’s Northwest Plan specifics
  • It is precedent setting for the entire city

Mark Becker of Becker Billboards spoke on his own behalf as the applicant. Mr. Becker’s arguments were focused on:

  • The city has approved digital billboards similar to his request in Westgate
  • The city of Peoria has a plan to erect billboards on its side of the Loop 101 once his application is denied
  • The applicant’s billboard proposal is consistent with the surrounding commercial activity on Bell Road

After nearly an hour and a half of public comment the P&Z Commission voted unanimously to pass it on to city council with a recommendation of denial. The first hurdle is cleared. It will now be heard by the city council on June 23, 2015.

A troubling aspect of Becker’s attempt to gain approval for his digital billboards was his use of veterans and the American Legion. Apparently vets were bused in from a group home in Phoenix to speak on the issue but had to leave prior to speaking to get back to the home on time. Since Becker had used his billboards to advertise on behalf of the American Legion he asked that they speak in support of his application. It was a calculated move designed to elicit sympathy for his application.

In a rare meeting of the minds on June 3, 2015 the Arizona Republic published an editorial entitled Glendale looks too dirty to clean up its auditing mess. Stunningly their editorial calls for an independent third party to assess Glendale’s audit. In a previous blog I had raised questions about the audit after the Assistant City Auditor McDermott-Fields resigned because her findings were changed by City Auditor MacLeod. I also raised the question of the close ties between MacLeod and former City Attorney Craig Tindall, now an attorney for IceArizona.

The Republic made a good call but a better one would be for the city to release the audit findings. There is a stipulation in the management agreement prohibiting the release of actual figures as proprietary information to IceArizona. Fine — but that does not preclude the city from releasing information that either stipulates that the figures supplied by IceArizona are correct or deficient. The fact that the public cannot see the numbers does a disservice to every Glendale resident and taxpayer whose tax dollars subsidize IceArizona. So much for transparency — a pledge that every currently sitting councilmember ran upon.

At the June 2, 2015 city council workshop meeting a presentation was made by Tom Sadler, President & CEO of the Arizona Organizing Committee for the college football playoff National Championship to be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016. This event is part of a new collegiate football system to determine which college wins the annual title of National Football Champion.

It is modeled after the Fiesta Bowl for which the city receives a partial reimbursement for public safety and transportation costs. Of course, staff time in preparation and other departments’ costs are not tracked. It is a reasonable assumption that the cost to the city will be an estimated $500,000. Senior staff has budgeted $408,080.00 for the event. Even though that is the city’s current budget (sure to increase) don’t assume that the city will be reimbursed that amount for it will not. Yes, once again, the taxpayers of Glendale will be asked to subsidize yet another sporting event for which the entire Metro area of Phoenix will profit. Aren’t you tired of it yet??

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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 17 years and 150 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The Arizona Republic of June 1, 2015 has a front page story by Peter Corbett entitled Glendale staffer quits over altered arena audit. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/06/01/glendale-staffer-resigns-arena-audit/28289641/ . Corbett reports that Assistant City Auditor Andrea McDermott-Fields resigned as a result of a conflict with City Auditor Candace MacLeod over the Coyotes audit.

A little history is in order. Two years ago the city audited its Risk Management Trust Fund. The audit was performed by MacLeod. MacLeod was supported by and worked very closely with former City Attorney (now attorney for IceArizona) Craig Tindall. MacLeod was part of the Frisoni-Burdick group that lobbied me (and I assume, other councilmembers) to appoint Craig Tindall as Interim City Manager rather than Horatio Skeete. This is “inside baseball” stuff and wouldn’t be commonly known.

I, and I assume the other councilmembers, were not aware of the fact that MacLeod’s husband did contract work in broadcasting for the Coyotes until 2011. Just as in the case of former Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni and her husband’s work for Insight Technology (a company that recently received a contract renewal from the city) there is a perception of conflict of interest. Just as Frisoni should have signed a disclosure statement it would have been prudent for MacLeod to divulge her possible conflict in reviewing the Coyotes recently submitted audit. The perception, rightly or wrongly, is that MacLeod might have had a reason to insure that IceArizona, owner of the Coyotes, didn’t look too bad.

What makes this situation even more questionable is that IceArizona stalled on releasing its audit. It should have been submitted to the city no later than September (60 days after the end of the Fiscal Year which ends June 30th). The city didn’t receive it until recently. In anticipation of receiving the IceArizona audit in a timely fashion the city hired Tony Tavares (once part of a group interested in buying the Coyotes) to audit the IceArizona submission. Presumably Tavares’ audit was completed and turned over to the city for confirmation. That is where MacLeod enters the picture. MacLeod assigned the job to McDermott-Fields but would have reviewed and approved the final work product.

According to Corbett McDermott-Fields in her April 21 letter of resignation said, “The basis of my resignation is that you have changed my findings in a way that is not acceptable to me or in accordance with the information that I have gathered.” As a result of McDermott’s resignation and the reason for it Jim Brown, the city’s human resources director did an inquiry regarding McDermott-Fields’ resignation but did not include a review of any of MacLeod’s changes to McDermott-Fields’ audit findings. Corbett related that “MacLeod told Brown that some of McDermott-Fields’ ‘documentation was inaccurate, incomplete, unclear, in some cases inflammatory and at times based on (McDermott-Fields’) opinion, which had not been confirmed with the city attorney or others’.”

MacLeod’s statement to Brown raises so many red flags I’m not even sure where to begin. In the article McDermott-Fields stated, “She is certified as an accountant, internal auditor and fraud examiner, adding that she has more than 25 years of experience.” Add to that she appears to have no ties or relationships to anyone associated with IceArizona and the Coyotes. She probably has more experience than MacLeod. She appears to be a neutral party and called it as she saw it.

It seems as if MacLeod trashed McDermott-Fields’ work because she didn’t like the result. I am also intrigued by McDermott-Fields’ comment, “MacLeod seemed hostile to her when they met to discuss the audit findings and (MacLeod) ‘accused me of throwing her under the bus’.” That also raises red flags. What was MacLeod upset about in McDermott-Fields’ audit findings? Who is MacLeod trying to protect? The city, IceArizona or both? No, something stinks about the whole situation.  It appears to be another CYA move by Brown and Tom Duensing in an effort to avoid city embarrassment because an employee called the audit as she saw it and it might have shown that the city was being short changed by IceArizona in the revenues it received.

The shame of it all is that we will never know the results of the city’s audit. Why? Because former City Manager Brenda Fischer, in an apparent stunning lack of competence, signed a separate agreement with Anthony LeBlanc of the Coyotes, agreeing to keep the audit confidential. She didn’t have to do that. The management agreement between the city and IceArizona stipulated that the city has the right to audit and there was no requirement of confidentiality. If the agreement had been followed without the separate Fischer-LeBlanc amendment the audit would be publicly available. Then we would know who was right in her findings…MacLeod or McDermott-Fields. Somehow or another I’m betting McDermott-Fields was right on the money.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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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