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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.

In my last blog I shared some of the innovations, strategies and cost savings to tax payers in the Transportation Department. In this blog I tackle Landfill, Recycling and Trash Pickup. These are not sexy programs but they are essential to our daily living. The personnel in these departments are often unseen and undervalued.

City Council has approved and restored funding for some essential services that help to keep our city looking good. I can’t tell you the number of complaints I received about the lack of street sweeping in neighborhoods. When we, and everyone else, were in recession we cut back on our street sweeping schedule reducing the service to quarterly. Now, instead of street sweeping 4 times a year, it has been restored to every other month – 6 times a year.

Did you know right-of-way cleaning has increased by 25%? Each day about 25 pounds of trash are picked up with the creation of a dedicated litter patrol?

Are you annoyed when your neighbor puts out bulk trash right after it’s been picked up? A solid waste inspector has been added dedicated to dealing with these complaints. Make sure you call and register your complaints about this issue because we now have a person solely dedicated to dealing with them. We heard you and want to help you to keep your neighborhoods looking good.

By the way, did you know that our city is the only one that provides once-a-month pickup of bulk trash free of charge? I live on a street of large lot homes. Most of us have a tremendous amount of vegetation. When bulk trash makes a pickup on our street they are definitely earning their pay as they pick up mounds of tree limbs, brush and grass clippings.

Did you know that the city has a Landfill Master Plan? Our landfill serves about 55,000 households as well as some surrounding communities such as Avondale, Peoria and reciprocally with Phoenix.  It is important to maximize its current use in order to increase its lifespan as well. Right now the landfill deals with about 350,000 tons of garbage each year and our recycling facility deals with another 15,000 tons.

The landfill is made up of two distinct cells, the South Cell, currently in use, and the North Cell, currently being prepared for use in anticipation of the South Cell’s closure. By 2021 digging out the first portion of the North Cell will be completed.

Then beginning in 2022-2023 Phase 1 of the North Cell liner will be installed and the transition from using the South Cell to the North Cell will begin. The dirt from the North Cell excavations will be saved and stock piled to be used as daily cover. That means after all of the daily garbage has been put in, some of the dirt from the stock pile is used to cover that day’s trash collection.  Staff’s extensive planning for the use of our landfill has ensured that it will have capacity for more than the next 50 years.

Here’s another innovative program – Alley Gates. It seems inconsequential but it turns out that it is not. Have you ever driven down one of our alleys? They are located in the older portions of our community. They tend to be nasty. Trash strewn all over, weeds, varmints attracted by all of the trash, illegal dumping, a haven for crime related activities that are difficult to observe and they are often a magnet for the homeless. A majority of residents abutting an alley can request the alley gates or in some cases, certain city departments; Police, Field Operations, or Code Compliance can request the gates for safety, operations or health reasons.

The 300 gallon bins are removed and residents get the 95 gallon containers. All trash is removed from the alley followed by a street sweeper. Then the gates are closed and locked. If a resident needs access to the alley they may borrow a key from the city (to be returned). Since the program started in 2016, 27 alleys have been gated.

Another new, innovative program is the adoption of routing software for both residential and commercial garbage pickup. Right now it is about to be implemented for commercial routes. Once that is complete, it will be used for residential routes. Why bother? Well, first of all, the program figures out the best routes to use. That ends up reducing mileage driven and equalizes routes for all of the drivers. Improved routing will cause a reduction in overtime charges, a reduction in fuel costs, a prolonging of the life span of garbage trucks and a reduction in maintenance costs.

The last major innovation I will share today is the city’s Blue Barrel Pilot Program. What many residents don’t know is that while recycling feels good, after all, we’re helping to clean our environment — our recyclables are so contaminated, that fewer and fewer recyclable companies will accept our material.

Did you know that some of the only items you will soon be asked to place in your green recycling container will be plastic water bottles, plastic soda bottles and milk jugs? On the bottom of each piece of plastic is a triangle with a number in it. It’s not easy to find or to read it but it is important for the health of our recycling program. The city doesn’t want and cannot use plastics with the numbers 3 though 7 on the bottom of the container. It will soon be starting an education program for all residents about proposed changes. Here’s a quick graphic explaining what’s acceptable and what isn’t:

The city started the Blue Barrel Pilot Program to audit the level of contamination in recycling containers as well as the level of participation of our residents. Why a blue barrel? Why not use the barrels we have now? Many residents have problems in distinguishing between the beige garbage containers and the pale, sage green recycling containers. Below are some preliminary results:                        As a result of the preliminary audits, city council is questioning whether the city should continue recycling. At some future date there will be a workshop devoted to this topic once the Pilot Program is completed. 

Why bother to share these and other great activities occurring in Glendale? It’s very, very easy to criticize but much more difficult to recognize the good.  Glendale’s employees, when unleashed, are creative and innovative. They, too, love Glendale whether they live here or not.

They are proud of the work they do to serve you and to make Glendale the great city that it is. I believe it is important to share their strategies and programs they have implemented to make Glendale stand out from our sister Valley cities.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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, August 28, 2019, the Glendale City Council held a workshop session. Mayor Weiers was an excused absence as was Councilmember Malnar, although Councilmember Malnar could listen to the deliberations telephonically and could text periodically. One of the agenda items was a recommendation from senior management based upon the downtown Strategic Leadership Group’s (SLG) advisory recommendations regarding special events. The SLG suggested that it was time to rethink how Glendale offers special events downtown. Rather than one major weekend event they suggested offering 4 April weekends of music as a way of generating more foot traffic over a longer period of time. They characterized it as an experiment designed to collect data on the change to compare to the data generated in past years from one major weekend event.

The SLG started meeting this past spring and did not finalize nor present its recommendations to senior management until June and by the time senior management received their recommendations the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget had already been approved as part of the city’s balanced budget. The amount of dollars allocated for special events downtown was already established. Senior management would have to reallocate dollars within the $186,015 special events budget to accommodate the group’s advisory recommendations.

Council’s mandate for that workshop was to come to some sort of consensus on the advisory recommendations that the SLG offered to Glendale’s senior management for presentation to the city council at a workshop session. The recommendations finalized by senior management were:

  • Allocating $56,805 for 3 weekend Friday and Saturday nights in December
  • Adding $4,210 to Glitter and Glow event
  • Allocating $90,000 for 4 weekends of music in April
  • Adding $15,000 to other special events
  • Allocating $20,000 to Arrowhead Towne Center and Westgate for special events

The original budgeted amount for special events of $186,015 would remain the same. The recommendation included the removal of hosting the Chocolate Affaire for one weekend in February and those funds would be reprogrammed as shown above. That was council’s charge at the workshop: to accept, amend or reject these recommendations. Several councilmembers questioned SLG’s origins, its method of operation and its advisory recommendations. Here’s a sampling of their comments and questions:

  • Councilmember Aldama, “So 16 individuals on that leadership committee would be guiding those decisions being brought to the city manager, bringing to us for decision. Any idea that would occur downtown would have been made up by this group here?”
  • Councilmember Tolmachoff, “I have a question about leadership group. Is every person on this list able to vote or is it just the business owners that’s able to vote? There’s a city employee on here and there’s two Chamber people. Do they vote? Or is it just the business owners?”
  • Councilmember Turner, “Who appointed this Strategic Leadership Group? or elected? or how was this created?”

The origins of this group were that the Glendale Chamber decided to advance this idea by inviting those identified downtown merchants and leaders who, while representing diverse points of view, were committed to achieve consensus on the advisories it would present to the city. Their mission is to positively advance the downtown interests.

What is amazing is that never in the long, one hundred years plus history of downtown Glendale has such a group ever coalesced. Over the years, there have been many think tank sessions that made suggestions. I go all the way back to the 1990’s “Miracle Mile” group’s discussions and all of the iterations that followed. All resulted in…nothing.

There remains a small group of downtown merchants who abhor the SLG’s efforts and prefer to reject change and want things to remain exactly the same. Hence, former Vice Mayor Knaack’s comment to Councilmember Tolmachoff’s recitation of the definition of insanity, repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. This small, dissident group resents the activities of the SLG. If the SLG were to say the sky is blue, they would dispute that notion. They sat in the back of the council chamber holding up already prepared signs impugning the comments of the SLG.

So, instead of discussing the proposed recommendations council spent the first hour of discussion about the Strategic Leadership Group. Once it got past that discussion, the next issue to arise was the fate of the Chocolate Affaire in February. The proposed recommendation was to take the funds from that event and reallocate it with the bulk of the funding to go to four musical weekends in April. Here is a sampling of councilmember’s thoughts on the elimination of the Chocolate Affaire:

  • Councilmember Turner, “But we’re being asked to eliminate the Chocolate Affaire which to me is an event that has very positive, um, connection to the city of Glendale plus to one of our major tourist attractions here in the downtown area.”
  • Councilmember Tolmachoff, “But moving on to the Chocolate Affaire, um, was there any discussion? Because the Chocolate Affaire is something that is widely recognized all across the Phoenix area and it’s a recognizable Glendale event.”
  • Councilmember Aldama, “…I vehemently…completely think it’s absurd to end the Chocolate Affaire. It is absurd to suggest that we do that.

These councilmembers, as is their right, expressed real concern about eliminating the Chocolate Affaire. After they expressed their points of view the discussions began to take on a more positive tone as councilmembers struggled with a way of preserving the Chocolate Affaire:

  • Councilmember Malnar texted that he supported the work of the merchants’ SLG group.
  • Councilmember Tolmachoff, “But try the Chocolate Affaire if we can do it in the Civic Center this year. We can try it this year and let’s see if we can do it.”
  • Councilmember Turner, “If that’s where we’re at with the Chocolate Affaire then let’s look at it. I like the idea of doing something in the Civic Center.”
  • Councilmember Aldama, “I don’t want to end the Chocolate Affaire but I want you to recreate it. If that’s what this consensus is, recreating but not eliminating it, then I can give my consensus.”
  • Councilmember Hugh, “Let’s try it in the Civic Center and I bet it’s a huge success.”
  • Vice Mayor Clark, as Chair of the meeting, agreed with the council’s final recommendations.

Two contentious hours later, consensus had finally been achieved. Allocating $56,805 for 3 weekend Friday and Saturday nights in December; adding $4,210 to Glitter and Glow event; and allocating $90,000 for 4 weekends of music in April were accepted as presented. Adding $15,000 to other special events and allocating $20,000 to Arrowhead Towne Center and Westgate special events for a total of $35,000 were reprogrammed by city council  to be using for hosting the Chocolate Affaire in Glendale’s Civic Center this coming February.

I suspect the small group of downtown merchants opposed to any change will not be happy with the amended recommendations consented to by city council. There was another, more subtle consensus achieved that day and that was that council publicly acknowledged that change is needed in downtown Glendale and they seem hopeful that the Strategic Leadership Group will be the catalyst to finally make it happen.

© 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.

I haven’t written anything since early December when I announced that I would be running again in 2020 for the Yucca district city council seat. Then I enjoyed our holidays. Just like everyone else, I spent the time shopping, mostly on Amazon; baking annual Christmas treats; wrapping presents, decorating the tree and preparing a scrumptious Christmas dinner.  All the things with which we become preoccupied during the season occurred. The new year of 2019 has begun replete with traditional resolutions sure to be broken within the month. I wish all of you a Happy New Year.

City Council resumed its activities with its first workshop and voting meeting of the year on January 8th. One of the more high profile issues of that first voting meeting was city council’s approval of a distracted driving ordinance mirroring the one passed by Surprise. It takes effect on February 7th but staff has begun a six month education period that will delay ticketing of offenders. It is a primary offense and drivers can be stopped for using hand held devices resulting in a fine of $250. This action would not be necessary if the state legislature had done its job and passed a statewide law. That may actually occur this year after the untimely and unfortunate death of a Salt River Police Officer by a distracted driver. Arizona is one of a handful of states that does not have a statewide ban.

Another significant action to have occurred at that council voting meeting is the selection of Vice Mayor for 2019. It is a job that rotates on an annual basis. It is primarily ceremonial with the Vice Mayor acting only when the Mayor is unavailable to chair a council meeting or other event. I wish to thank the Mayor and City Council for selecting me for the position. It is an honor to serve in that capacity.

One of the upcoming issues on council’s January 22nd workshop meeting is that of motorized scooters. The birds, er, Bird brand motorized scooters, are popping up all over Glendale — especially downtown. While they serve a purpose for some residents in our community it has become abundantly clear that they, without any regulation, are becoming a nuisance to many others. Council will give direction on this issue at its workshop meeting.

Another problematical issue coming before council at its January 22nd voting meeting is a request to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to deliver marijuana to customers. Malcom Gladwell said in a recent New Yorker magazine article, “Permitting pot is one thing, promoting its use is another.” The general consensus in society seems to be that marijuana is pretty benign. Not so fast, there is a book out by Alex Berenson entitled “Tell Your Children: The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence.” It’s well worth the read and raises the issue that marijuana may not be quite as gentle as we have been led to believe. The voters of the state have spoken and approved the use of medical marijuana but it is up to local leadership to decide just how much they are willing to promote its use.

This year promises to be another busy one. In addition to the Business Subcommittee, which I chair, continuing its effort to enhance Glendale’s business friendly reputation, I will also serve on the Council Code Review Committee seeking reform of the operations of this department as well as looking for ways to strength those parts of Code that have not served the interests of our residents.

The creation of the annual budget is always a challenge. It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that when times are financially tough it’s very easy to create council consensus on allocations for limited resources but as the budget gets healthier there is bound to be more friction to secure funding for projects that have waited a long time to get funded.

Council is focused on job creation for our residents as well as rehabilitating infrastructure — something that could not be addressed during the years when the city concentrated on maintaining services and nothing else. There are sure to be issues that will arise that no one can anticipate or foretell. Could it be Glen Lakes development? the Thunderbird campus development? taking downtown Glendale in a new direction? or Loop 303 economic development opportunities? Who knows? But be assured that council will try to make the best decisions that it can for all of Glendale.

I announced last month that I will run for the Yucca district city council seat in 2020. This month I will file my campaign committee paperwork with the City Clerk in order to begin fund raising for the campaign. My goal is to raise $50,000 this year to position myself to mount a successful campaign against any candidate, especially one promoted and funded by the fire union, a very likely proposition.

Please join me this year by subscribing to this blog as I continue to offer my perspective on the issues Glendale will face. Simply sign up at the top of the column to the left of this article and every time there is a new post it will be emailed to you. As I enter the fifth year of writing this blog I am very close to having had half a million reads of my posts. Thank you all for not just following me but for continuing to take an interest in Glendale and its governance.

© 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 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.

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.

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.

There continues to be much angst about downtown Glendale much of it recently resurfaced as a result of the city’s sale of the St. Vincent de Paul building to C Plus D Industry. It’s time for fresh ideas, innovation and creation to create a new, vibrant downtown. How?

First, eliminate the entire concept of “Historic Downtown Glendale.” It may have been an appropriate concept when downtown hosted over 100 antique shops but those days are long gone. I don’t pretend to have an answer to a new branding concept but what about something like “Downtown on the Rise” or “Downtown’s New Direction” or “Discover our New Downtown” or “Downtown: Something Old yet Something New”?

Next, place art everywhere. I remember other cities that hosted traveling art exhibits, especially sculptures placed in every downtown nook and cranny. Art doesn’t have to be so expensive that it prohibits its creation. Take a look at the slideshow I created. In the slideshow there are traditional sculptures but there are also examples of simple but powerful street art — on buildings, sidewalks and yes, even on the roadways.

The city has an art fund that requires 1% of the construction cost of new development to be placed in this fund. I know at one time during the national recession it was raided for other needs within the city. Currently there is slightly less than one million dollars in the fund. The city could utilize this funding as a source to begin to add whimsical sculptures throughout the downtown. The idea is to place creative art that causes people to notice – to stop and look and perhaps take a photograph.

The city could use CDBG funding to spruce up downtown. What about new benches that are not wood and do not require extensive maintenance that never seems to occur in a timely manner? Or using this source of funding to repair and maintain the sidewalk lighting? Or using the funding to power wash the sidewalks on a regular and timely schedule?

Make no mistake to succeed this resurgence; this movement cannot only be a city government responsibility. There is only so much the city can or should do. In order to succeed it requires the commitment and participation of all 123 merchants/services located in downtown.

Does that mean someone downtown has to go out and buy an expensive piece of art? No, of course not. Look at the slideshow. Art can be placed on any building. Building art can be simple. Take a look at the slides where art was added to a simple crack on the building’s façade to the slides depicting Trompe-l’œil. Trompe-l’œil (French for “deceive the eye”) is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. The possibilities are endless and exciting. Art can create the vibrancy and excitement that downtown has not experienced in many years.

It’s time…time for downtown owners and tenants…and yes, the city…to break out of its antiquated rut of complacency. It’s time for downtown interests to get off their butts; to accept that their destinies and livelihoods are their responsibility…that drawing people downtown begins with their efforts. It’s time to cease relying upon the city for everything, everywhere.

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem government IS the problem.”

© 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.

Who would you vote for today?

  • Emmanuel Allen (55%, 274 Votes)
  • Jamie Aldama (38%, 190 Votes)
  • Undecided (7%, 35 Votes)

Total Voters: 499

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If you were to vote today, who is your choice?

  • Bart Turner (50%, 204 Votes)
  • Ray Strahl (37%, 152 Votes)
  • Undecided (12%, 50 Votes)

Total Voters: 406

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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 Wednesday, August 8, 2018, the Glendale Women’s Club hosted its biennial candidate’s forum. Present were: Barrel District candidates Bart Turner and Ray Strahl; Ocotillo District candidates Jamie Aldama and Emmanuel Allen; and Cholla District candidate Lauren Tolmachoff (unopposed).  Each candidate was given three minutes to introduce him or herself. Their responses often mirrored their campaign mailers including how long they have resided in Glendale, their backgrounds, etc.

The forum was about two hours in length and can be viewed following this link:

http://www.glendaledailyplanet.com . There was time enough for each of the candidates to give one minute responses to the following questions. Since I am not a professional stenographer I am paraphrasing the questions:

  • Question 1: Blight is a concern for many cities. How would you address blight in Glendale?
  • Question 2: Would you vote to support the current downtown festival budget?*
  • Question 3: What are your thoughts about the newly created Historical Downtown Merchants Association?
  • Question 4: Since light rail has been cancelled what should be done with those transportation sales tax dollars?*
  • Question 5: List two major achievements in your district.*
  • Question 6: What is your position on Glen Lakes Golf Course?*
  • Question 7: Should there be a citizen’s commission on city charter review?
  • Question 8: Many residents still believe there is north versus south when it comes to the allocation and use of city funds. Do you concur?*
  • Question 9: What is your position on the city construction of the new parking lot by the Cardinals Stadium?*
  • Question 10: How have you allocated your council budget resources?*
  • Question 11: Would you change the current vision for downtown?
  • Question 12: Do you support raising the mayor and council salaries?
  • Question 13: In 2012 a .7 sales tax was instituted. Should it be eliminated?*

As you may note, I have placed asterisks on seven of the questions. These questions can only be answered competently based upon in depth information received through the actual experience of serving on city council. These particular questions were loaded in favor of the incumbents.

I love the Women’s Club Candidate Forum and hope the organization continues to provide this valuable service to our community. But there may be ways to make it even better. All questions are submitted by the public at large. As nearly everyone knows, the questions are usually submitted by each candidate’s supporters, often at the request of the candidate.  In addition, the questions seem to reflect geographically localized Glendale issues (i.e., downtown Glendale) rather than broader policy issues affecting all of Glendale.

Perhaps there is a better way to craft questions that do reflect broad policy issues. Maybe it is time to consider using questions that come from some kind of independent panel. Some questions that could have been used:

  • If you are elected what are your three priorities for your district? for all of Glendale?
  • How would you work to decrease the city’s debt?
  • The city’s budget determines expenditure priorities. For example, public safety versus parks and recreation. How would you balance competing needs for limited available funding?
  • What attributes do you have that would make you a better representative than your opponent?
  • Do you believe public transportation is a priority for Glendale? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever received a traffic ticket, been charged with a DUI, been charged with a felony? had a bankruptcy?

I would also note that answers provided by both incumbents and challengers at this forum were generally the same. There was nothing offered that provided major distinctions between the candidates. This election may well be decided on several things: a candidate’s personality; a candidate’s ability to get out the vote; and I kid you not, since some voters have no idea about the candidates, it comes down to position (first) on the ballot and whether they like your last name.

It was an interesting evening and I am glad that I took the time to attend. Seeing who was in the audience was very instructive. There’s also nothing that can surpass seeing candidates in person because it helps one to get a feel for their characters and personalities, something that just doesn’t come through on TV.

© 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.

Who would you vote for today?

  • Emmanuel Allen (55%, 274 Votes)
  • Jamie Aldama (38%, 190 Votes)
  • Undecided (7%, 35 Votes)

Total Voters: 499

Loading ... Loading ...

If you were to vote today, who is your choice?

  • Bart Turner (50%, 204 Votes)
  • Ray Strahl (37%, 152 Votes)
  • Undecided (12%, 50 Votes)

Total Voters: 406

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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 July 19, 2018 the Glendale Star ran a story entitled “Petitions ready to keep festivals in place.” Bud Zomok, a local downtown Glendale resident, was interviewed about his effort to run an online petition using the internet site ipetitions.com. The purpose of the online petition was to garner support for preserving Glendale’s downtown festivals exactly the way they have always been.

Let’s take a closer look at the representations of support depicted in these petitions. Zomok said he collected 958 signatures. That is factually correct. He said that people for all zip codes in Glendale responded. That is factually correct.  I reviewed all of the petition signatures Zomok presented to each member of the city council. Here is the signature break down by zip code in Glendale:

  • 85301 43 signatures
  • 85302 40 signatures
  • 85303 10 signatures
  • 85304: 30 signatures
  • 85305: 5 signatures
  • 85306: 18 signatures
  • 85307: 1  signature
  • 85308:  21 signatures
  • 85310: 11 signatures
  • Glendale, AZ no zip code:    8 signatures

The total number of identifiable, provable signatures representing Glendale total 187. The balance of the signatures, another 771, had no zip code or if a zip code was entered it was outside of Glendale. In fact, one signature was from France.

Yet Mr. Zomok says, “There were 400 signatures from within the city, while 500 were from the rest of the state and beyond.” I went back and took a closer look at the petitions to see if there was some marker that I missed that would allow Mr. Zomok to definitively identify 400 signatures from within the city. I could not find anything. Did he contact all of these people by email to confirm their residency in Glendale? I doubt it and you should as well. It would be difficult to convince anyone that he had personal knowledge of the claimed 400 Glendale residents.

Now, it is possible that more of the signatures could be from Glendale residents but without a zip code or other descriptor it is not possible to verify. Therefore the only rational course is to accept those petition signatures with stated Glendale zip codes.

While many of the 187 Glendale residents who signed the petition left a comment in support of the festivals there were many more respondents who did not leave any commentary at all.

I selected one page, page 27, at random and reproduced it below:

There is nothing wrong with the use of petitions to convey support for an issue. However, an online petition becomes suspect when anyone who is online can sign it, without claiming a Glendale zip code and without any comment about the festival which indicates a lack of knowledge about the festival. Petitions generally work and have meaning (except for the 1,000 Glendale residents who signed a petition in opposition to an amended Stonehaven plan and were ignored) when locals circulate them among the local population. It does a disservice to every reader of this news article to represent that there is overwhelming support from scads of Glendale’s residents.

No one has suggested that the festivals be eliminated in their entirety. Far from it. In fact, it appears that the city manager has identified enough funding to add one of the three weekends back to Glendale Glitters. So instead of four weekends of city funded programming there will be two. 

In an informal poll that ran with this blog 53% of the respondents approved of changing the festivals while 47% of the respondents did not.

There is nothing to preclude the downtown merchants from getting together, seeking sponsorships and developing programming for the two weekends that will not be funded by the city. It’s not too late to do so. I am sure the city would work with the merchants to facilitate their needs should they decide to take up the task. The merchants would have to raise the money needed for associated production costs such as police, security and sanitation. The city has made clear that it believes the dollars used to cover the costs associated with four weekends can be used more effectively with other initiatives to achieve the goal of driving visitors downtown on a yearlong basis.

The general sentiment seems to be that the festivals need refreshing, not elimination in their entirety. I have some ideas and I have heard some good ideas from the merchants as well. I hope they will come together as one voice and share those great ideas with the city. Let’s work together.

© 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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