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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.

It’s easy for many in the media to find something unpleasant about Glendale to write about but a good news story is often not reported or under reported. Two rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s Rating Agency and Fitch Ratings Agency, independently and objectively, increased their ratings for the City of Glendale in February. Standard & Poor’s increased its rating for the city’s General Obligation debt to AA with a stable outlook. Fitch granted the city its highest rating of AAA with a stable outlook.

What does all of this really mean to you and me? Let’s use a simple example. You want to do some remodeling on your home. Your budget is $10,000 and you assume that you are going to have to pay 10% in interest on the loan. One bank is willing to lend you $10,000 at a 10% interest rate meaning you would pay $1,000 APR. Another bank is willing to lend you $10,000 at a 5% interest rate meaning you would pay $500 APR. Obviously you will use the bank that is charging you 5%. It poses an interesting dilemma. You had planned to pay an interest rate of 10% and now that has dropped to 5%. You could, if you chose, increase the amount of the loan to $20,000 while still paying what you had planned to pay in interest on the $10,000 loan or you can plan to pay less for your loan over time freeing up $500 that you expected as part of the interest payment on other things or just bank the extra interest you would have been paying.

It’s the same with the city. Higher (better) credit ratings means the city pays less to borrow exactly the same amount of money or the city can afford to issue additional debt and still be paying what it had anticipated if the debt had been issued at a higher rate of interest. If the city chooses, it can do more with a reduced interest rate.

Who is responsible for this good news? Kudos to City Manager Kevin Phelps and his finance team of former Assistant City Manager Tom Duensing (just recently having left Glendale) and our Budget & Finance Director Vicki Rios. Your city council deserves some credit as well for its ability to remain disciplined in working toward the goal of growing the city’s fund balance to $50 million and its repeated approval of senior management’s strategies to maintain strong financial management policies.

Other reasons for Glendale’s ratings increases include council’s direction to encourage commercial development (and jobs) west of 115th Avenue in the city as well as its plan to continue to develop a strong, diversified taxpayer base. Senior staff has contributed to this success by its continued emphasis on sustainable and strong management practices.

Senior management and the City Council are both committed to reducing city debt over the long term. It’s a goal to which we don’t pay a lot of attention but it has resulted in a good news story for the taxpayers of Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

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 Tuesday, March 12th, the voters of Phoenix will choose their new mayor. The candidates are both former councilmembers, Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela. I noted an opinion column by Elvia Diaz in the March 7th edition of the Arizona Republic. In the piece Ms. Diaz remarks on Valenzuela’s unabashed support for giving the Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver over $170,000 dollars of Phoenix taxpayers’ money.

One of her comments struck me as particularly relevant, “There is a reason why he (Sarver) and other heavy-hitters are backing Valenzuela. They know they can keep getting sweet deals with him at the helm of City Hall.”

I find that remark of hers to be descriptive of Valenzuela’s style of leadership. I do not have a personal relationship with either candidate. I have met Valenzuela a few times and my last opportunity to talk to him was a ‘one-on-one’ over coffee. It was apparent at that meeting that he seemed to be seeking my support as a Glendale councilmember. It was something I would not give as there were events in Valenzuela’s background that bothered me.

The contrast between Gallego and Valenzuela couldn’t be starker. Gallego, in viewing her debate performances, exhibits a command of and a depth of knowledge about Phoenix issues and proposes solutions that Valenzuela simply could not match. He appeared to be out-of-his-depth.

Valenzuela, unfortunately, does not seem to be very bright.  His problem is when you don’t know about issues, you turn to others for answers. It seems apparent that Valenzuela will turn to those ‘heavy-hitters’ who contributed mightily to his campaign for his answers. Those answers may not serve the best interests of the ordinary Phoenix resident.

Perhaps the most concerning is his job as a Glendale fire fighter. I asked Danny if he were willing to terminate his Glendale fire fighting job if he should be elected mayor of Phoenix. He was unwilling to do so and stated that he would continue to perform both jobs. As a Glendale councilmember I know how much time I devote to this job and it is considerable. The job has odd hours as well. I could be going to staff informational meetings during the course of a day, attend a luncheon and do a ribbon cutting or attend a regional event in the evening. It is not a 9 to 5 job.

I just couldn’t envision how Valenzuela would manage doing a 24 hour shift at a Glendale fire station. I also couldn’t envision Valenzuela’s security detail riding on a Glendale fire truck with him as his station answered a call.

Over time, as this question of dual jobs became more and more prominent during his campaign, Valenzuela eventually modified his position by stating that he would take a leave of absence from his Glendale fire fighter’s job.  Really? Just how was that supposed to work? Glendale was going to hold his old job for him for 4 years and then whenever he decided he’d come back and he could pick up where he left off? A very sweet deal that I doubt you or I would ever be given.

There’s an old adage “that we are judged by the company we keep.” Time for a little back story. Sammy Chavira and Danny Valenzuela were buddies. After all, Sammy was a Glendale councilmember and a Phoenix fire fighter and Danny was a Phoenix councilmember and a Glendale fire fighter. Both were members of the Hispanic Fire Fighters Association (HFFA) until both resigned under curious circumstances. Both urged the HFFA to hold a major fund raising event using friends of both gentlemen to produce the event.  The HFAA lost tons of money and there was never an audited accounting of where the revenues from the event went. Shortly thereafter both men resigned.

Sammy Chavira disgraced himself as a Glendale councilmember with a series of questionable trips using taxpayer money such as flying to Washington, D.C. to see the Pope. Chavira even used his city credit card to buy dinner for a group of Phoenix officials, including Valenzuela. That was a ‘no-no’. When it became public all of the officials, including Valenzuela, reimbursed the city of Glendale for their portion of the dinner expense.

When Valenzuela announced his run for mayor, he cut all ties with Chavira and terminated their relationship. All well and good but it begs the question, how many other Chavira-type friends does Valenzuela have?

Speaking of friends, how does the fire union fit into Valenzuela’s candidacy? I think we can all assume that they are helping him every possible way that they can…money, expertise and manpower. They can be expected to be giddy with joy should Valenzuela win the seat. Finally, they would have a friend in a real position of power that would fulfill their agenda.

Lastly, as noted in a Laurie Roberts’ Arizona Republic column today, suddenly dark money is being spent at a dizzying rate for Valenzuela in the last few days before the election. Today there is a full page ad in the Republic paid for by Advancing Freedom, Inc. a non-profit based in Oklahoma. Who or what is Advancing Freedom? Is it the light rail folks, the fire union or Sarver and the Suns? We’ll probably never know as they are not required to list their sources of funding under $50,000.

 It certainly smells of last minute desperation. It seems like a ‘Hail Mary pass’. Do they know something through their polling that we don’t know? And is it that Gallego is about to become Phoenix’s second female mayor? Let’s hope so.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

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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