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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.

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.

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.

This Monday, Feb.25th, the city held a naming ceremony dedicating a portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals way. I was honored to be able to speak at this event. The following are the remarks I delivered.

“As you may or may not know, I can be a trivia nerd. So I decided to find out how Bethany Home Road got its name.  Some streets in the Valley received their names because of their location, such as Central Avenue or Baseline Road. Others honor local or nation historical figures such as Washington Street or Thomas Road. Yet others are tied to various landmarks such as Camelback Road or Indian School Road.

“Bethany Home Road got its name because it was a recognized landmark one hundred years ago. Bethany Home was a tuberculosis sanatorium started by the Missionary Church Association. Bethany Home was established in 1908 by the church and dedicated to God. It was a Christian home for the sick. But how did the Missionary Church come up with that name?  They did some of their missionary work in what is now Israel in Bethany , an ancient town near Jerusalem.

“We are here to celebrate the renaming of a portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way from 83rd Avenue to 99th Avenue. It’s hard to believe but the Cardinals played their first game in Glendale on August 12, 2006, 13 years ago. As a member of Glendale’s city council back then, I voted for its approval, participated by signing a beam during the stadium’s construction and was there for opening day. The stadium has become a landmark for the West Valley. It can be seen far and wide… from Peoria to Avondale.

“By renaming Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way we recognize and honor a major economic driver of not just my district, the Yucca district, or even Glendale and the West Valley but of the entire Phoenix Metro area.

“Without the partnerships of long time Glendale farming families like the Roveys and Pendergasts willing to sell their land and the vision and the persistence of Michael Bidwill there would be no stadium in the Yucca district of Glendale. It’s time…it’s way past time… to recognize those efforts.

“We honor the Bidwill family and the Cardinals by renaming this portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way. But there are added benefits for it also enhances the marketing and branding of this area of my district. There are no homes or businesses along this stretch of road but in the future there will be commercial entities who will acquire the cache of a Cardinals Way address.

“As Vice Mayor, I thank Michael Bidwill and the entire Bidwill family for their decision to make the Yucca district of Glendale their home. I am honored to be a participant in the celebration of the Cardinals Way street naming. Thirteen years ago a partnership was born. I look forward to many more years of mutual cooperation that has benefitted all.”

© 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.

Nearly four years ago, in May of 2015, in my blog entitled “Glendale Fire Department will have to wait” I first highlighted what had been acknowledged for years and that was Glendale Fire responded to calls into Phoenix far more than Phoenix responded into Glendale.

The situation is a result of the Valley’s Automatic Aid System. It mandates that central dispatch will send the closest available unit to a call no matter the jurisdiction responding. The imbalance was startling. Glendale answered more calls into Phoenix estimated to be 2,000 more calls a year than Phoenix’s annual response into Glendale. In essence, Glendale taxpayers were subsidizing Phoenix’s fire delivery to Phoenix residents.

When I returned to the Glendale City Council in January of 2017 it was a topic of conversation between the City Manager and me.

In November of 2018 a pilot program by Glendale and Phoenix began to dually staff Glendale’s Fire Station 154 with a Glendale fire truck and a Phoenix quad cab truck, which would carry medical gear and four firefighters. The Phoenix unit works daily 10-hour shifts during peak hours. See this link to an article by Grace Oldham in the Arizona Republic: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2019/02/15/phoenix-glendale-fire-department-share-firehouse-city-border-emergency-response/2771826002/ .

It smacks of an unusual moment of common sense. Each city only has so much money to go around to cover all of its needs. By jointly using Station 154 Phoenix does not have to build another fire station in the area of 51st Avenue and Peoria Avenue and Glendale does not have to fund a second unit to man the station. It’s a win-win for both cities. It will reduce Glendale responses into Phoenix in that geographic area by an estimated 8%. If the program is ever extended to 24- hour shifts it would reduce Glendale’s responses into Phoenix by an estimated 20%. Phoenix has committed to continuing the program through 2019 but only with 10-hour shifts.

I don’t know who was ultimately responsible for its implementation but you can be sure the City Managers of Glendale and Phoenix had to approve the concept. Both Fire Departments had to work together to make the pilot project work. Lastly, the fire union had to agree and not put any road blocks to prevent it from working.

Kudos to all involved in making this pilot program a roaring success.

Now, on to my other major gripe with fire delivery service. In the same blog I brought up the issue of using fire trucks to answer medical calls.  It is acknowledged that 70% to 80% of all fire calls are medical calls for service. It drives me nuts to see a fire truck responding to those kinds of calls. Those big trucks are very, very expensive to maintain and operate.

The solution is yet another common sense approach. Greater use of quad cab trucks with paramedics on board. Many Valley cities are moving in that direction, including Glendale. In Glendale there is a program utilizing “low acuity” vehicles but these are for minor medical calls like a sprained ankle. They are not used for major medical calls like heart attacks. The solution is to implement “high acuity” vehicles that can respond to major medical calls all the time.

There has been resistance on the part of fire departments and especially the fire union but another hurdle to overcome is the cost to cities to establish “high acuity” units. In the long run it’s a system long overdue and just a matter of time before cities realize that the long-term O&M costs for “high acuity” vehicles will pay for themselves by reserving those big fire trucks to answer the calls for which the trucks were designed…fires.

 

 

 

 

 

© 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 find as City Council responsibilities increase year over year finding the time to write a blog becomes more difficult. I have no intention of giving it up but you may find that, alas, my entries are more infrequent. This morning I discovered that I had a couple of hours free to devote to writing a catch up blog. Y-e-a-a-a!

I am sure, if you are a Glendale resident, you have seen the “Birds” (motorized scooters) suddenly and without warning descend upon our city. Glendale is not the only city to deal with this issue. It is occurring nation-wide from Durham, North Carolina to Los Angeles, California. Apparently these motorized scooter providers (Bird is not the only company) have recognized that most cities have no laws prohibiting them and so, they felt free to drop them in mass quantities wherever they chose.

Late last week, the City of Glendale, sent Bird a Cease and Desist Letter advising the company that their scooters were illegally operating on the city’s rights-of-way, roadways and sidewalks. The company was instructed to pick them up or face a fine of $250 per scooter per hour. Expect all of them to disappear in the very near future. The latest work is that they should be gone by February 9th. As suddenly as they appeared they should disappear. City Council and staff will take the time necessary to decide if scooters are acceptable in our community and if so, what regulations will be required.

Glendale is booming. Look for announcements over the next few months about some major projects, most of which will be located in the Yucca district which I represent. Development plans that have lain dormant since the Great Recession are being dusted off, updated and actively pursued. Many of them include an office development component and will be located in the Yucca district. Glendale simply has no available office space left as of this date but potential development submittals could create as much as a million square feet of office space over the next year and a half. That is welcome news because available office space means more job opportunities for Glendale’s residents.

City Council had approved the annexation of the Woolf Logistics and Lincoln Logistics parcels located just east of the Loop 303. The developers of both parcels are actively marketing to distribution and manufacturing companies. I am confident we will see both of these developers selling off parcels for active development this year. This is exactly what Glendale has been pursuing. Residential development is fine in certain areas where there is existent infrastructure but each home costs the city about $400 annually. That is because the tax generated…sales, property taxes, etc…do not generate enough to cover the entire costs of public safety, street maintenance and other services that a city must pay to provide those services. Manufacturing, office and distribution do pay for themselves annually and have the additional benefit of job creation. City Council’s goal is to develop land adjacent to the Loop 303 for those uses. In the future Glendale may be able to reverse the current data that shows that 70% of our residents go outside of Glendale to go to work.

Next week, the first week of February, city council begins to hold budget workshops in preparation for the final adoption of the FY 20-21 budget this coming June. It has been said and it is true, there is never much in-fighting when the available funds are lean but whenever there is a surplus the in-fighting increases. Glendale has an available surplus of about a million dollars this year. There are so many needs, long overdue, that require funding. One of the most critical for me is to continue to complete Heroes Park. It has been 20 years since the first project was completed in this park. This spring we will see completion of the construction of Phase I of the West Branch library in Heroes Park. I commend the city council for recognizing this critical need and allocating the funding to make it happen. However, Heroes Park is far from complete. It still does not have a water feature, a recreation and aquatics center, ball fields, library expansion or a dog park. These were elements of the original plan and still an expectation of the thousands of residents surrounding this park. They have seen their children grow up without the benefit of many elements in this park and now have the expectation that their grandchildren will finally have a completed park nearby.

Another project long overdue is that of O’Neil Park’s inoperable swimming pool. The square mile, primarily a low socio-demographic area, surrounding this park has over 1300 homes and 10 apartment complexes. That equates to a lot of children without an active recreational opportunity. For the past 5 years the O’Neil pool has been closed. It’s time to rehabilitate O’Neil Park and to provide some active recreational opportunities for the estimated 4,000 children living in this area. While the pool may disappear there are plenty of possibilities for that space within the park that can become a positive benefit to the area’s children.

I hope that I will soon be able to blog about some of the exciting new projects coming to Glendale. They are in the pipeline but not yet finalized for announcement. I am very optimistic about Glendale’s opportunities for the coming year. The economy is healthy and spurring new development everywhere and Glendale intends to capture its share.

© 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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