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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.

The blog with no attribution of authorship or sponsorship has surfaced again. It refers to an audit issued on March 21, 2019 performed by the former City Auditor, Candace MacLeod. It appears Ms.MacLeod’s intent was to get this audit publicized three months before her position was riffed on July 1, 2019. She seemed to know that her position with the city was in jeopardy and this audit is presented in such a way that it seems to be payback.

Once again, dear reader, it’s time for another Glendale history flashback. When former City Manager Dr. Martin Vanacour retired, Ed Beasley became the City Manager of Glendale and retained the position until 2012 when the news media exploded with the scandals of the juicy consultancy pay Beasley authorized for the former City Finance Director Art Lynch as well as Beasley’s authorization allowing Alma Carmichel, former HR Director, to commute telephonically from Mississippi.

With Beasley’s departure, two city factions arose. One faction supported appointing former City Attorney Craig Tindall as the Interim City Manager. The other faction supported appointing Horatio Skeete to the position. After the blood had dried, in June of 2012, Mr. Skeete was appointed Interim City Manager. He remained until Brenda Fischer was hired as the new City Manager in June of 2013. She lasted less than 2 years and almost brought the city to its knees, fiscally and internally. In 2015, after Ms. Fischer’s departure the former Scottsdale City Manager, Dick Bowers, in retirement, was appointed as Interim City Manager during the search for a new permanent City Manager. In 2016, the current City Manager, Kevin Phelps, was hired and he remains City Manager to this day.

Why all the history on City Managers? Because they play a role in the city auditor saga. When Beasley reigned, and he did indeed reign, there was silent and tacit recognition that he had an ‘inner circle’. Many believed this inner circle (all now gone) included:

  • Art Lynch, former City Finance Director and subsequent financial consultant to the city
  • Mark Burdick, former Fire Chief and former mayoral candidate (perceived as a fire union advocate)
  • Julie Frisoni, former Marketing & Communications Director and then a former Assistant City Manager appointed by former City Manager Brenda Fischer
  • Craig Tindall, former City Attorney and subsequent (albeit simultaneously) legal counsel for the Coyotes
  • Candace MacLeod, former City Auditor

One would assume that people in these senior positions would be the epitome of ethical behavior by adhering to strict neutrality and serving all within the city equally. It now appears that was not the case. For example, when Tindall and Skeete sought the Interim City Manager’s position, several of those identified above actively lobbied the councilmembers for Tindall’s appointment. I know because I was lobbied and was asked to support Tindall. I was not approached by anyone on Skeete’s behalf.  I also know of their political bias because I was ‘sandbagged’ by some members of this inner circle during my 2012 election (but that’s for a future blog).

A city auditor is required to be ethically neutral. Yet her past actions seem to belie that neutrality as demonstrated by her support of Mr. Tindall’s quest for the Interim City Manager’s position.  Her present activities also seem to belie neutrality. Since I returned to city council in 2017, she seemed to perform audits the production of which appeared to be deliberately designed to diminish the work of City Manager Phelps and senior management.

In addition, Ms. MacLeod is a Canadian who had been working with a green card as the City of Glendale City Auditor for about the past dozen years. The first question to arise, Was there no qualified American citizen who could do this job?

A succession of city managers appeared unconcerned about the former auditor’s perceived bias, political activity or job performance because she was on the right side, seemingly their side.  

What does all of this have to do with the blog in question? It’s a trashy, hit piece aimed squarely at the current City Manager and the motive seems to be because the City Auditor’s position had been in jeopardy for several years and there was consideration of replacing the position with an audit committee. Apparently Ms. MacLeod may have thought of this (and another audit she performed) as an insurance policy.

It also takes another swipe at the mayor’s late reimbursement of his spouse’s expenses on a Sister Cities trip. The audit fails to acknowledge the mayor’s misinterpretation of reimbursement polices corrected after the City Attorney’s guidance was sought.

MacLeod’s audit covered from June 14, 2018 to September 13, 2108. Sloppy and inadequate Pro Card practices had been going on for many years, under the administrations of Beasley, Skeete, and Fischer. Pro Card use was never addressed as an audit in the 10 years previous.

The writer(s) of this wacky blog were selective in what was chosen to share about the audit. There is no mention that 90 cardholder statements (22%) out of 392 cardholders were selected for review. While eagerly relating the statistics of failed practices, it neglects to mention the conclusion of the audit. The City Manager and all departments concurred with every recommendation (except one by the Budget and Finance Department regarding interpretation of standards) and those recommendations were implemented in late 2018 or mid- 2019, under the current City Manager’s watch.  

A timeline of six months to a year to adopt best practices does not give me any cause for concern as I have expressed repeatedly that city governments are slow to react. I’ve used the analogy of turning a battleship around…it’s slow, deliberate and careful.  Since the blog failed to share the responses of management, here is the list of recommendations provided in the auditor’s report and management’s concurrence: Audit Appendix A

It is obvious that the blog is selective in what it chooses to use. Why? It is also becoming obvious that it will be used to sway voters in the upcoming 2020 election for elected officials in Glendale. You should treat it as such. Make no mistake, it will advocate for their selected candidates and work to diminish their chosen candidates’ opponents.

It takes money to publish on the internet if for nothing else, for domain registration and a web hosting company. Without knowing who is behind this effort it’s fair to consider this a ‘dark money’ effort. It will never achieve legitimacy until those who are behind the effort are unmasked. Nothing remains a secret for very long. It’s only a matter of time until the identities of those behind this effort are exposed. Then we will know their biases and will consider their effort in that context.

In the meantime we can wonder what garbage will be offered next…but is it worth our time? I think not. Only cowards or those who would be embarrassed to be revealed because of their biases would write stuff like this. Anyone who takes liberties with and shades the truth cannot be trusted. Remember, unattributed hit pieces like this are only fit to be used as a puppy poo training aid.

© 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.

 Many people assume the most powerful person in local government is the Mayor. Unless it’s a ‘strong mayor’ form of government, that isn’t so. I contend the city manager is the most powerful person in local government. This debate has existed as long as local government has existed. Over the years many U.S. cities have done 360s reversing their government structures to a strong mayor form of government and then back to a manager/council form. Neither satisfies completely.

What are the powers and responsibilities of a city manager? Generally, he or she coordinates and oversees the activities of all city departments, provides direct staff assistance to city council members, including the mayor, and council committees. His/her staff leads the financial and budget management process for a city and directs its planning and economic development efforts. His/her staff also conducts research, develops policies, and evaluates potential public programs.  He/she deals with all personnel issues exclusively including the hiring and firing of personnel.  More often than not, councils accept and act on his/her recommendations. What he/she and staff do behind the scenes has a very real impact on the policies and direction of a city.

In Glendale the city charter states in Section 2-53 (a), “Pursuant to article III, section 3 of the Glendale City Charter, the city manager is the chief executive officer of the city and shall have all authority and powers, not inconsistent with the city Charter, to manage and administer the affairs of the city. The city manager, as he or she deems appropriate, may delegate and assign duties and responsibilities to the administrative officials, department heads and employees of the city.”

Under Section 3 of the city charter, the city manager’s role is more specifically defined, “The city manager shall be chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch of the city government. He shall be responsible for the proper administration of all affairs of the city and to that end, subject to the provisions of this charter, he shall have the power (bold is mine) and shall be required to:

(1)

Devote his entire time to the discharge of his official duties, attend all meetings of the council unless excused there from by the council or the mayor;

(2)

See that all ordinances are enforced and that the provisions of all franchises, leases, contracts, permits and privileges granted by the city are observed;

(3)

Appoint, and when deemed necessary for the good of the service, lay-off, suspend, transfer, demote or remove all department heads, officers and employees of the city, subject to such merit system regulations as the council may adopt;

(4)

Prepare the annual budget estimates and submit them to the council and be responsible for the administration of the budget after adoption;

(5)

Keep the council advised at all times of the affairs and needs of the city, and make reports annually, or more frequently if requested by the council, of all the affairs of the city;

(6)

Repealed (3-16-76);

(7)

Have such other powers, duties and functions as this charter may prescribe, and such powers, duties and functions consistent with this charter as the council may prescribe.”

As can be noted, the city charter goes into rather specific detail about a city manager’s role and responsibilities. That is not the case for the city council. The charter broadly states in Article II, Section I, “All powers of the city, not in conflict with the constitution and subject to the limitations of this charter, shall be vested in the council, who shall enact appropriate legislation and do and perform any and all acts and things which may be necessary and proper to carry out these powers or any of the provisions of this charter.”Generally, a city council oversees local policy decisions, reviews and approves the city budgets and appoints a professional city manager (as well as the City Attorney and City Clerk) to handle administrative tasks on a day-to-day basis.

In Glendale as with all other cities money is power. In other words, a city’s budget is where the power resides. Based upon that premise is the City Manager the most powerful person in a city? I say ‘yes’. The City Manager reviews and approves all budget items that are presented to a city council. He/she reviews and recommends to city council any increase in the number of employees and where those new employees will work. He/she reviews and recommends all departmental supplemental requests for additional funding that are presented to a city council.  A city council does not see any supplemental requests until after they are reviewed and approved by the City Manager. He/she, by virtue of departmental line item recommendations to a city council, determines the direction and the priorities of the city for the upcoming Fiscal Year.

 A city council is never presented a raw budget that offers options for the direction of placement of new revenue. Quite frankly, there is continual pressure by city councils to get more of the raw data from which budgetary decisions are made. It’s the silent, often unrecognized by the public, power struggle that occurs every year prior to a city’s formal Fiscal Year budget adoption.

What some City Managers and senior staff rely upon is the lack of a committed majority of opinion on any city council. Without a clear majority of council, that council cannot give direction to a City Manager. Sometimes it is easy to pick off councilmembers by doing what are commonly called “walk-arounds.” That is a practice where city staff talks individually to councilmembers making the case for or against an issue. Obviously, you can see how this practice could be used to work in favor of senior staff. They can make an argument for or against any issue or initiative virtually guaranteeing the outcome they desire.

In addition, many councilmembers have not been educated on the scope of their authority. Many city councilmembers do not realize that there is, indeed, power in numbers and that they have the absolute authority to shape policy and therefore the priorities and direction of the city requiring that funding be used to accomplish those identified priorities. City Councils are the 400 lb. gorilla in the room but often they don’t know it or they remain divided with the inability to create the majority needed to craft direction for the City Manager or senior staff. The only ones to blame for a City Manager’s absolute power are city councils themselves. So until city councilmembers unite the most powerful person in a city will continue to be the City Manager.

© 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.

City Council vacates all activities during the July of each year. Whether you love my blogs or hate them, this break time provides me the opportunity to write a series of them. This one deals with an age old problem, that of new development versus older neighborhoods.

I happened to run across this story in the local Glendale Republic. Here’s the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/surprise/2019/06/22/surprise-grows-quickly-residents-question-if-its-growing-right-way/1491785001/ .

It’s about a couple who bought a large lot home on at least an acre in the desert area of Surprise only to discover in the coming years they will be swallowed up and surrounded by a possible total of 4,130 residential units with an average of about four homes per acre. Add to those homes new businesses along 163rd Avenue creating a new urban center and their dream and their investment evaporates.

I would hope the City of Surprise would be sensitive to their life style as it allows new development to surround them. It can be done with what planners call “transitional” development. Under that scheme the development surrounding them would be large lots of 1 acre or better and as development moves farther away from them it becomes denser. It’s not ideal as far as this couple is concerned but it employs a certain amount of sensitivity. After all, they and their neighbors were there first.

It also brings up another issue for which cities should be mindful. All of those new homes and new residents are great. After all, it will increase the amount of state shared revenue that flows into their coffers. However, a stunning fact to remember and I am using Glendale as an example, is that it cost the City of Glendale $973 to provide services to each and every resident. That figure includes public safety which comprises the lion’s share of any city’s budget. For a family of two in a home that comes to $1946. Yet each home (not citizen) generates approximately $400 in property tax and sales tax to offset the city’s costs of services. The imbalance is readily apparent. A city is ahead when it allows development of commercial, industrial and manufacturing.  That type of development does not typically use city services to the extent of a home and they are job generators.

Another type of development that requires sensitivity is that of new infill development. Infill development should not only compliment but should raise the value of older neighborhoods. Sticking a bunch of apartments whether they are the traditional multi-story or single story “Built for Rent” units in the middle of existent residential areas is a recipe for disaster. Multifamily dwellers, as nice as they may be, are not usually invested in the community in which they reside. On average they move every three years. That dynamic does not offer stability to the residential neighborhoods adjacent to such a complex or to the fabric of community as a whole in terms of public participation.

When multifamily units are new they hold their value as the developer/investor seeks to recoup the original investment and turn a profit. But there are no guarantees in life and there is certainly no guarantee as to how long the original owner will hold that investment. At some point there will be sale and now begins the inevitable slide into decline. The new owner may not be as assiduous about keeping the property up while profiting. Little things are not attended to and then the bigger things are not taken care of.  Over time it becomes an underperforming property that diminishes adjacent property values even further.

There are places in a city for multi-family and that is where density and mass will complement existing retail and commercial development. A good example where density is positive is in and around Westgate. With Westgate’s nearly two dozen restaurants, Tanger Outlets for shopping and sports entertainment choices of hockey and football, density is important in terms of providing a consumer base. Another scenario can be in an area of all new mixed use development that establishes new single family and multifamily neighborhoods served by new retail and commercial. A purchaser of a home in that kind of area is already aware that multifamily will be part of the mix.

Cities have a responsibility to their current residents to be sensitive in the placement of new or infill development. Diminishing the property values of one part of the community to accommodate the bright, shiny new development that may not be appropriate for the existent area does a disservice to the very fabric of the community they seek to create.

As the couple in Surprise said about their home in the middle of nowhere, “We thought we had really found something.”  Let’s be careful as a home owner who had moved into a neighborhood years ago and thought they had really found something special becomes threatened by adjacent, incompatible development.

 

© 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.

Let’s face it. Downtown Glendale is not robust despite years of community stakeholders’ discussion and strategic planning. It’s time to think differently. One of the endemic problems continues to be that downtown property owners think their properties are worth more than the market will bear. As an example, a local restaurant is about to close because they can no longer afford to pay the rent. One would think the property owner would work with them to keep the property in use but that is not the case. After all, some reduced rent is better than receiving no rent at all. So the space will turn into another vacant store front for months, maybe even years.

A little history is in order.  In 2008 the city council began preparations to construct a new court house due to the inadequacy of space in the existent building. Workshops were held and in 2009 council hired the International Facilities Group (IFG) as Project Manager with Populous as the architect and New Construction-Arena as the builder to construct a new court house. The project cost was $42 million and it was supposed to be completed in 2010. Some initial underground work was done and then the project stopped. Why? The council realized the city saddled with debt, simply could not afford to build it. I was never very supportive of the project because the cost was exorbitant. I thought we were building a Mercedes when we needed a Ford. In other words I thought the initial cost was too high and as with most construction projects the eventual cost would have ballooned way above the original $42 million. In the past 10 years the court conditions have only become worse and the space they have is woefully inadequate. Here is the conceptual of the 2010 building. Grand isn’t it?

This year the city council is also dealing with the city prosecutors’ facility. They have been using a modular building that has seen better days and that was only supposed to be a temporary fix. The roof is a sieve and in the last monsoon work spaces and many important work documents were flooded. They have need of new work quarters as well. City council is considering moving them to the Sine building.

That got me to thinking. What could be done if we thought “outside the box” to address not only the court space issue and the prosecutors need for a new facility but create a major downtown revival as well?

Downtown Glendale needs a transfusion…in thinking. So here’s a radical proposal. We need to shake things up and rearrange the deck chairs. Let’s move the City Court, the Prosecutors’ Office, Police and Fire Administration into the current City Hall. There is enough room to co-locate a satellite county court into the building as well. There is already adequate parking to service the facility. It would remain a robust facility filled with workers as well as visitors.

Where would the current occupants of City Hall go? How about building a new City Hall? The city already owns land (approximately 14-20 acres) at the southwest corner of Cardinals Way (former Bethany Home Road) and 91st Avenue right next to the city owned Black parking lot. The Black lot was constructed to satisfy the city’s contractual obligation to provide parking spaces for Cardinals games. It would provide instant parking for a new City Hall as the Black lot is unused during weekly business hours. The new facility would not occupy all of that acreage and would provide much needed stimulus to create office development on the remaining acreage surrounding the new City Hall. Glendale is currently at a major disadvantage as there is no available office space in our town. With a location close to the Loop 101 a new City Hall would become more accessible to visitors and residents alike.

The city is currently planning to sell the Bank of America building. If the court, prosecutors’ office and public safety administration were moved into our existent City Hall, the city could also sell the city court building and the public safety building. While we are at it the city should also sell the Civic Center. The proceeds from these sales could pay off bonds issued for a new City Hall. These city owned downtown buildings should be sold only for commercial use that would immediately create a constant and reliable day time worker population for downtown and would in fact create more reliable revenue opportunities for downtown businesses.

Since the historical Sine Building would become vacant let’s consider turning it into a business incubator or museum or art space. How about linking up with the Smithsonian Museum and become eligible for their rotating exhibits?

While we are at it let’s relocate Velma Teague Library to the Bead Museum and bring this much loved library asset technologically into the 21st Century. Then sell or rent the vacant library space to perhaps a restaurant like Positano’s. Let’s remodel the amphitheater space and get programming in it as many nights a year as possible (200 nights?).

I have not articulated nor shared this vision for downtown Glendale with anyone until now. I am sure heads will explode all over the place. How dare she suggest a new City Hall or selling three major city buildings?

This may not be the perfect way to move the city’s deck chairs but I think these ideas could grow not just the daily downtown population but grow consistent evening traffic as well. Then perhaps the downtown merchants won’t have to rely on just a few major festivals every year to produce enough sales for them to keep them afloat. Keep in mind that people like to live close to where they work and this concept could stimulate the need for a downtown apartment building and begin to create permanent residential density that the downtown so desperately needs.

I certainly hope the downtown stakeholders read this blog and once they get over the shock of  the idea of radical transformation they will embrace the idea that we can’t keep doing the same things over and over again with exactly the same outcomes for that is the definition of insanity. My ideas may not be the exact way to go but I hope it provokes a real discussion for revitalizing downtown. I would love to get feedback on the concepts I have presented, especially from the downtown community. Perhaps a major change such as I envision will finally make the downtown owners have buildings that are really worth what they think, unrealistically, they are presently worth right now.

© 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 Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 9 A.M. the City of Glendale will host the Grand Opening celebration of its newest library branch at Heroes Regional Park located at the northeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road.

In all honesty, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Why? You’re asking. It should be a day of celebration and it most certainly is. But there is so much more to this happy ending. Let me tell you about it.

Way back in Fiscal Year 1998-99 two projects simultaneously appeared in the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). One was the West Branch Library allocating funds for its design in FY 2001-2002 and its construction was slated to begin in FY 2004. The other was the Multi-Generational Center North allocating funding for FY 2000-2001. The branch library and the multi-gen center were slated to begin in FY 2001-2002.

 In FY 2001-2002 a new major project is added, the Recreation/Aquatics Center North appears. That same Fiscal Year the slippage of just one project, the library, begins. The design of the library is still in FY 2001-2002 but actual construction is moved to FY 2004-2005.

These projects remain constant until Fiscal Year 2003-2004. In 2003-2004 the city experienced some economic difficulties, yet that year, both north projects, the Multi-Gen Center North and the Recreation/Aquatic Center North are approved and merged into one major project for $13,896,012 with a Groundbreaking in April of 2005. The west branch library construction is moved once again…now to Fiscal Year 2005-2006 with an opening in 2007.

Then what do you know? In Fiscal Year 2005-2006 the year that library construction is to begin, a majority of city council moved $6 million in funding for the library to the Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center construction. Library construction is moved back once again to FY 2008-2009 with an opening in FY 2010. In 2009 the national recession began and I stopped keeping track knowing the city had no money.

To sum it all up, in 8 years the Recreation/Aquatics Center North was open and another 12 years later we are finally opening a branch library in West Glendale. Why? It wasn’t just “economic difficulties.” It was far more than that. The former mayor and I often butted heads on many issues. I was certainly not one of her council “mushrooms.” (Mushrooms are kept in the dark and fed ca-ca.) She and her mushrooms were not about to give “evil” (her nickname for me) a win in my district. As far as I am concerned, it was spiteful retribution. Rest assured she will deny and offer plausible sounding reasons as to why the library was never constructed during her tenure. Consider the source and the motivation.

That is why I could cry. It has taken so bloody long to get this long needed and awaited amenity for the people of West Glendale. An entire generation has grown up without the benefit of a nearby library. That is just not right.

I laugh because the next generation will benefit. Reading must not become a forgotten art. Libraries teach young ones the love of reading and for many it becomes a lifelong habit. For 20 years the Yucca district has been without a public facility in which to hold meetings. Finally the library will have a Community Meeting Room that can be reserved for neighborhood meetings, etc.

Admittedly, the library is tiny at 7,500 square feet but it is not what was first proposed, that of a modular building ( which I considered to be an insult implying that West Glendale residents were not even worthy of a permanent structure) and it is constructed to be expanded. Velma Teague and Foothills are approximately 25,000 to 35,000 square feet and the Main Library is 65,000 square feet. I suspect the pressure of use on this new branch will be so great that expansion will have to occur in a couple of years.

In the meantime there is so much more to be completed at Heroes Regional Park. Projects still to be done include a water feature, a dog park, a Recreation/Aquatics Center West and sports fields – all part of this Park’s Master Plan. I am pleased that there is funding allocated in the upcoming FY 2019-2020 CIP for the water feature. It is the next element of the park that will be constructed.

I guess it’s better to look forward than back but it’s easier to do once one vents and my venting is done. Now I celebrate our new library, soon to be much loved and over used. No longer will we have to wait 15 or 20 minutes at the train tracks just to make a simple trip to the library.

Please join me on May 18th to celebrate. Please bring the kids. Heroes from the Arizona Avengers and Justice League of Arizona will be available for photos. There will be face painting, a balloon artist and a scavenger hunt with prizes for the kids. Adults can check out the new 3D printer, get a library card, use the computers for public use and learn about the Discovery and Exploration Backpack Program. Find out how this library can fit into your family’s fabric of life.

There is also a Heroes Park Brick Walkway Campaign under way. For $100 (individual) to $250 (corporate) one can purchase a brick to be engraved with 4 lines of text. I am placing my order for one this Monday. From the rendering I have seen, it looks like the opportunities to get a commemorative brick in the front entry walkway are limited. I would suggest that you place your order as soon as possible. I don’t know if orders can be placed online but I will find out and update this blog when I do.

So, I will laugh and be joyful. We have a library. Tiny though it might be, it will be mighty in changing the character of the community it serves. For me, it is symbolic of more to come and the completion of Heroes Regional Park after so many years.

© 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.

I often find that I no longer have the time to write. I confess I miss not being able to write several times a week. My city council job, which I love, is now a full time but for this evening, I am caught up. I have already done my ‘homework’ for this Tuesday’s city council workshop and voting meeting. That, of course, doesn’t mean that there aren’t things on my ‘to do’ list. I will spend part of this week reading “A Report on EMS Field Experiments” and read the sign codes from Peoria and Surprise in preparation for my Council Business Committee meeting. There is always more to read, more ‘homework’ to do, more events to attend and endless meetings…with council, with staff and with constituents about an issue or developers with another new project to consider.

Right now council is deep in the belly of budget season. Council started its budget meetings in March and just this past week had 2 all day budget meetings. Staff prepared a proposed budget for council’s consideration and we review every element within it. The old adage that “money is power” still rings true in government today whether it’s local government or the federal government. He who controls the purse strings wields the power. Budget is a season of the tug and pulls between staff, continually seeking more funding for its projects or personnel, and that of council with its own set of priorities. It’s never a fierce issue when the economy is bad and there isn’t discretionary funding. When the economy is healthy, as it is now, polite but intense warfare ensues.

One of the priorities for me for the past two years has been the implementation of a dedicated council assistant for each councilmember. For several years the council office has been on a     3-2-1 model meaning that there are 3 council assistants, each of whom staff 2 councilmembers; 2 ‘rovers’, each of whom takes direction (often confusing and without identification of priority) from the 3 council assistants; and 1 secretary.

There is a litany of reasons why this model does not work. One of the results has been that long term projects and research on topics are shelved simply because of the need for a council assistant to meet the daily tasks of the two councilmembers being staffed. Often the council assistant’s work time for each councilmember is uneven as one councilmember’s needs may, and often does, take priority.

This budget year I have requested that the full time employee (FTE) position that council gave up voluntarily last year to partially cover the costs associated with implementing the School Resource Officer (SRO) program be restored. By adding that one FTE, converting the 2 ‘rover’ and 1 secretary position to council assistant positions will finally allow for one council assistant to serve one councilmember. Because of the State Open Meeting Law restrictions I have only been able to discuss this issue with 2 other councilmembers. If I were to talk to 3 councilmembers in a private setting it would constitute a majority of council. It is a violation to establish consensus of the majority without the benefit of a public meeting. The 2 councilmembers with which I have discussed the issue share my belief that we need dedicated council assistants. However, 4 councilmembers are needed to give staff policy direction. I am hopeful that when this issue is discussed at our next budget meeting on April 30th there is a 4th councilmember that will support this initiative.

It’s a delicate dance because by charter, council’s role is policy making and staff’s role is to administer policy and their role includes managing personnel. However, it is within council’s purview to direct senior management, as a matter of policy, to staff each councilmember with an assistant. It then becomes staff’s responsibility to carry out this policy. As salaried employees each council assistant is ultimately managed by the city manager in his role as CEO of all employees within the organization.  

In an acknowledgment of zero based budgeting each year council receives a detailed report on two selected departments. This year it was the Budget and Finance Department and the Information and Technology Department. I find the detail very helpful and informative but I would appreciate it if they were not the last two departments to be discussed at the end of two very long days.

Other things…there are some members if the public that do not like our City Manager, Kevin Phelps. The reasons are many and varied…some reasons may be valid…from their respective perspectives. I do like and appreciate our City Manager. I have served with quite a few…Dr. Martin Vanacour, Ed Beasley, Dick Bowers, Interim Horatio Skeete and now Kevin Phelps. The only one with which I never served is Brenda Fischer and for that I am extremely grateful. The one who stands out above all is Marty Vanacour but Kevin Phelps runs a close second. No one is perfect…certainly not me…and certainly not any of Glendale’s City Managers. Kevin Phelps took a city on the verge of bankruptcy and implemented policies that have made Glendale financially healthy once again. He is a man driven to make Glendale prosper and to make it a vibrant job center for Glendale residents. Along the way he has had a few missteps but generally he has been good for Glendale.

His past experience in Washington State includes running a major convention center, experience as an auditor as well as experience as an appointed and elected official. He retains my vote of confidence and I hope he will stay on for several more years and continue to ‘make Glendale great again’.

The West Branch Library at Heroes Park at the northeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road is nearly ready to open. Look for it to open to the public in mid-May. As soon as the date for the Grand Opening is finalized I will announce it on social media. It’s been 20 years since the branch library first appeared in Glendale’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). An entire generation of children in the Yucca district has grown up without the benefit of a nearby library.  I have no doubt that this branch library will be extremely popular and statistics about its use will far surpass any staff estimates.

Library staff will start preparing for the opening by having library furniture and shelving delivered today. The digital sign at the park alongside 83rd Avenue funded from my city council budget (taxpayer funds) has been installed and is functional. The first major message that the public will see on the sign will be the announcement of the library’s grand opening date. It will be used to announce district and city-wide events. Look for a Yucca district meeting to be held at the library toward the end of May or beginning of June. The date of the Yucca district meeting will be advertised on our new digital sign.

The next Heroes Park element to be developed is the water feature. Funding is secured (once the budget is approved) for the design of the water feature. It is my intent to request funding for its construction in the following fiscal year. There is still much to be done at the park but by taking one bite of the apple at a time, I have no doubt it will be completed.

So much is happening in Glendale and most of it is positive. While the economy is good and we reconstitute our rainy day fund, there are opportunities to not only bring new amenities to Glendale’s residents but to improve the look and feel of Glendale (neglected for years because of a poor economy). Glendale is on the move! Look for more great  things in its future and yours.

© 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.

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.

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