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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.

Prior to the September 10th city council workshop meeting, reporters representing a local TV station descended upon us and incessantly questioned the mayor and councilmembers regarding the hiring of former Glendale Police Chief Rick St. John as the city’s first Public Safety Director. Not surprisingly Councilmembers Aldama and Turner offered sound bites intimating that the council had authority over this City of Glendale employee hire.

It’s time to set the record straight.

It states explicitly in the city’s charter with regard to the city council, “Sec. 19. – Interference in administrative service. “Except as otherwise provided in this charter, neither the council nor any of its members shall interfere with the execution by the city manager of his powers and duties, or order, directly or indirectly, the appointment by the city manager of any person to an office or employment or his removal therefrom.”

The charter then goes on to specifically authorize as a power of the city manager,”Sec. 3. – City manager; powers and duties. “The city manager shall be chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch of the city government. He shall be responsible for the proper administration of all affairs of the city and to that end, subject to the provisions of this charter, he shall have the power and shall be required to:

        “(3) Appoint, and when deemed necessary for the good of the service, lay-off, suspend, 

               transfer, demote or remove all department heads, officers and employees of the city,

               subject to such merit system regulations as the council may adopt;”

The city council, by charter, has no power to hire, fire, suspend or in any way affect the position of any city employee. The only direct hires of the city council are the city manager, the city attorney, the city clerk and the city’s chief judge. That’s it. The council has no authority regarding any other employee position. The city manager could have hired the Easter Bunny for that position and council has no say…no authority with regard to his choice.

The only way the city council has any power over employees is during the budget cycle. Council can approve or deny new employee positions or can increase or decrease the number of full time employees (FTEs) within any city department’s budget appropriation. In June of 2019, council approved the creation of several new city positions by authorizing the funding of those positions. Among them was a Public Safety Director and a Council Assistant. I mention these two positions specifically to demonstrate what occurred after those positions were approved by city council at its budget process.

Here is a case in point. Council approved the addition of one FTE who would be destined to become my new Council Assistant. In July the position of Council Assistant was posted. It is my understanding that there were nearly a 100 applicants. The Human Resources Department went through every application and determined which of the applicants met the qualifications for the job. I asked and was told the process reduced the list to about 60 applicants. Those applicants were then reviewed by an appropriate staff member based upon specific criteria for the council assistant job requirements. Those finalists were interviewed by a panel of city employees resulting in a final list of three applicants. Since I was the councilmember who would be using this new hire, I was invited to meet the three finalists. Please note it was not within my authority to demand or even to ask to interview the finalists. I was asked for my opinion and offered it knowing full well that I had no authority in choosing the person who would be my council assistant. Fortunately for me, the person I felt would do the best job was the choice of senior management. That position was filled in early August.

In the case of the Public Safety Director, city council authorized the position’s funding with its approval of the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget. On August 27, 2019 city council approved an agreement with Interim Public Management LLC (IPM) to secure candidates for the position. As was stated by Jim Brown, Human Resources Director, the applicants for the position were narrowed down to three finalists. I do not know who or when or how many staff was involved in the interview process but Mr. Brown stated that the selection was made after interviews were conducted. The decision was strictly within the authority of the city manager. It was not city council’s decision to make and the city charter does not grant the council any authority over the process or the selection.

Occasionally, and not in every instance, council has been invited to attend a reception for the finalists for a position such as Assistant City Manager. It is a reception open to many employees not just councilmembers. Sometimes a few of the city councilmembers will attend. Rarely, if ever, are our opinions solicited and even if they had been, they have no bearing on the final selection.

Why the intense media scrutiny? Is it to gin up their ratings? Does it reflect anti-police sentiment expressed by some of the general public? Perhaps because they haven’t done their homework as to how the selection process works? Or does it have to do with the intense media attention given to “use of force” policy by the Glendale Police Department?

I would just remind everyone that government employees are terminated all the time and knowing government as we all do, it’s got to be something pretty serious to get fired or to resign in lieu of termination. Yet I don’t see the media hounding any local governmental leaders if an employee other than a police officer or fire fighter is terminated. This statement in no way diminishes employee bad conduct for public safety employees are held to a higher standard since their mission is to protect the public. All leadership within Glendale does not condone or support bad acts committed by any employee within the City of Glendale. It doesn’t matter if it’s within the finance department, the water department or the police department.

Within any organization, public or private, there are employees who are terminated or should be. Why, I bet there are one or two at your place of work that you’ve wondered why they haven’t already been fired. That does not mean that aberrant, out-of-the norm behavior is condoned by the organization’s leadership. It does signify that there is a long process, often expensive and often painful for both sides, designed to protect the rights of both sides and sometimes the outcome satisfies no one.

Glendale is deserving of criticism when criticism is due but in this case I suspect the media didn’t do all of their homework on this one or perhaps they are in a vendetta mood. Who knows? It may be both.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, 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.

Yesterday, August 13, 2019, the city council’s workshop was devoted exclusively to a potential sale of Glendale’s cemetery. I wanted to wait to write about the issue but waited until I had all of the information I required, including the staff presentation and my own research.

Let’s begin with some history. The Glendale Cemetery Association, comprised of 3 local churches, established the Glendale Memorial Park Cemetery in 1900. By 1962 the Association realized it was struggling financially and asked the City of Glendale to assume ownership of the cemetery. The city agreed and received all land owned by the Association to be used exclusively as a cemetery as well as $12,831.21 in cash and $40,005.00 in stock investments.

Within that agreement there was no restriction placed on the city preventing it from selling the cemetery or its assets. For the past 57 years the city has faithfully owned and managed the property. Sometimes it did it well, sometimes (during recessions), it did not.  For nearly 60 years the city has supported the operation and maintenance of the cemetery from the city’s General Fund (taxpayer funds) while putting the proceeds from burial plot sales into a Perpetual Card Fund. Staff researched old records and could establish that the city subsidizes the cemetery at an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 a year. It also provides indirect support (personnel and equipment) from the Landfill, Solid Waste and Transportation departments. The Perpetual Card Fund is now about $5.8 million dollars and the city can document that an estimated $3.2 million dollars has come directly out of the city’s General Fund to pay for annual operations and maintenance. If a sale occurs, the city would retain about $2 million as reimbursement to its General Fund to offset what had been spent over the years for operations and maintenance. The buyer would retain about $3 million that would stay in the Perpetual Care Fund.

If you wish to see the workshop discussion you can go to the city’s website or the city’s Facebook page. The city is now live streaming all city council workshops and voting meetings. In my remarks from yesterday I delivered the following thoughts. The city council is not part of a nefarious plot (this was a pun…note the word ‘plot’ in reference to our discussion of the cemetery. Only the city manager got it…oh well). City council’s (and mine) decision will be based on a great deal of research and deliberation. We have a fiduciary responsibility to be wise stewards of your taxpayer dollars and that responsibility is taken very seriously.

It appears there are 3 options:

  • The city can continue to operate the cemetery as is. It would continue to subsidize the operations and maintenance from the General Fund. The city would use capital only to make repairs that were absolutely necessary and would continue to only allow services Tuesday through Thursday. It would continue to do little to no marketing. There is no guarantee under this model as to what future city councils may decide to do.
  • The city can enhance the cemetery operations and maintenance and make further capital investments. There are some things cities are good at doing and some things cities are not so good at doing. Running a cemetery is one of those things cities are not so good doing. It can hire a professional to run the operation and it can invest taxpayer funds to build infrastructure for cremation niches (which the city does not provide at this time). I estimate the additional cost to implement this model at an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 a year in addition to capital for infrastructure improvements. Again, there are no guarantees as to what future councils may decide to do.
  • The city can sell to a professional within the industry with a proven track record of successful management. The proposed buyer and the industry are heavily regulated. It seems the state legislature takes death and burial very, very seriously.

One of the emails I received implied that the proposed buyer may not have the financial credentials necessary. So I did some research by going to Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 32, Chapter 20, Article 6 which contains all of the regulations with regard to cemeteries. I won’t cite all but I do want to highlight several regulations that should put Glendale residents’ concerns at ease.

  • 32-2194.19. Investigation of applicant before granting of certificate of authority where needed. “Upon receipt of an application for a certificate of authority to operate a cemetery, the commissioner shall cause an investigation to be made of the physical status, plans, specifications and financing of the proposed cemetery, the character of the applicant, including its officers, directors, shareholders or members, and any other qualifications required of the applicant under this article.”
  • 32-2194.24. Trust fund to be established before certificate of authority granted. “No certificate of authority shall issue to a corporation or limited liability company organized for the purpose of maintaining and operating a cemetery unless the articles of incorporation or organization certify to the establishment of an irrevocable trust for maintenance and operation in accordance with the provisions of this article…”
  • 27. Restrictive use of income from endowed-care fund; obligation. “There shall be designated a trustee for the endowed-care fund that is a financial institution authorized to do business in this state…The principal of the trust fund shall remain permanently intact, and only the income …shall be expended…the fund shall be used solely for the care of the plots or other burial spaces sold to third persons with a provision for perpetual or endowed care…The fund or its income shall never be used for the development, improvement or embellishment of unsold portions of the cemetery…”
  • 32-2194.30. Restriction on the use of endowed-care funds. “Endowed-care funds shall not be used for any purpose other than to provide for the care of burial spaces…”

State regulations require a thorough background check, including financial,  of the potential buyer and associates and also require the Perpetual Care Fund to remain intact and only the interest earned on the Fund may be used for specific, regulated purposes. There are so many state safe guards to prevent fiduciary abuse and that should ease concerns of anyone who is frightened about a proposed sale.

There are positives to a sale. A professional would keep the cemetery open seven days a week. The proposed buyer has promised to keep the name of the cemetery as is and would still recognize preferences to Glendale residents. There are only 1.000 burial plots left. At an average of 100 plots purchased per year this model only has a life span of another 10 years. The buyer has indicated that his model will emphasize cremation niches and has plans to develop the infrastructure for such.

How will I vote? I don’t know. I am leaning toward a sale but council has requested further information that will result in a second workshop on the issue. Once I believe that I have all the information I need, I will make my final decision.

© 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.

At a recent city council workshop further medical marijuana dispensary restrictions were considered. Councilmember Ray Malnar, as a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI), asked for a more explicit definition of “schools.” It will be brought back to council again in the near future because Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Tolmachoff said that the proposed definition of schools was too restrictive. Here is an article from Your Valley Net: https://yourvalley.net/yourvalley/government/glendale-council-to-decide-if-pot-dispensaries-must-separate-from-more-than-just-schools/ .

I guess another background narrative is in order. In the state-wide November 2, 2010 election voters weighed in on Proposition 203, approving the use of medical marijuana by 50.13%. That’s a slim margin but it is all that was needed to permit the use of medical marijuana throughout the state. In order to implement this new mandate, the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) created approximately 126 Community Health Analysis Areas (CHAA). One dispensary is allowed per CHAA. Here is a map of all of the CHAAs in the state.

CHAA map

I said something during the city council discussion I had read somewhere and it resonated with me. That was, “It is one thing to permit marijuana but it is another to promote it.  I am not interested in doing anything to promote marijuana.” I think it is a good concept to adopt and so I have.

 Cities have no choice. Voters have approved it use and the state mandates that cities may not prohibit a dispensary in any CHAA. Cities can, however, use their zoning authority to regulate the location of dispensaries…but that’s about all the authority a city has.

Federal research on the effects of marijuana is in its infancy despite its use (legal or illicit) for many years.  As more states have authorized its use, medically and now recreationally, the federal government is pursuing greater research on its use and the effects of such use.

Preliminary results suggest that marijuana is not a gateway drug. It appears if one is predisposed to use marijuana the disposition to graduate to harder drugs is already there. That preliminary conclusion is at least comforting. Other preliminary data is not so comforting.

It appears that marijuana can have negative effects on the brains of adolescents. These effects can include and are not limited to:

  • Changes to the brain’s structure (including size and how areas are connected)
  • Lower quality of brain connections
  • Less blood flow to parts of the brain

Preliminary research has demonstrated it’s possible that marijuana use can hurt brain functions in teens. Marijuana use in teens has been shown to lower IQ scores and create poor memory and attention. These findings are important because young people’s brains are building the connections to improve executive functioning ( self-control, creative thinking, and decision-making skills). Do we really want to encourage a generation of “dumb-downed” teens?

In consideration of these preliminary research findings I am not inclined to promote the use of marijuana. By broadening the definition of schools we, as a city, will discourage the location of an “attractive nuisance” close to all types of schools.

Why bother? Well, not everyone who patronizes a marijuana dispensary may be a pillar of the community and an upstanding citizen. It has been reported previously that there is a growing industry of “pot doctors” who locate nearby dispensaries and are prone to facilitate the approval of medical marijuana cards to those who ordinarily would not qualify for such a card.

I also think it’s not OK to trivialize the use of marijuana in order to make it so acceptable within our society. As our society changes rapidly not all that comes with change is in and of itself good. Are we becoming a society that promotes individual indulgence no matter the consequences?

© 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

 

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

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

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

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

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

(1)

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

(2)

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

(3)

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

(4)

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

(5)

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

(6)

Repealed (3-16-76);

(7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On April 26, 2019 Jen Fifield had a story in the Arizona Republic about Mayor Weiers’ trip to Norway and France.  Here is the link to the story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2019/04/26/heres-what-glendales-mayor-did-his-5-k-european-trip-taxpayers-dime/3562785002/ . There is so much about this story on which to comment.

The reporter, Jen Fifield, calls herself “a city watchdog reporter covering Surprise and Glendale.” Others call her a “muckraker.” This term is usually applied to journalists who intentionally write (for profit or personal gain) about alleged corruption of public officials. Take your pick…watchdog or muckraker?

Any story about any event or person is fair game for any reporter but the tone of an article can always be the subject of debate. Journalists always tout being fair and unbiased but often the words, especially descriptors, used in an article will reveal any bias. In addition, Fifield’s use of Mark Burdick, Weiers’ opponent in the last mayoral election, is suspect. Did she really expect Burdick to be unbiased on the issue? If your answer is ‘yes’, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. Another person, Yvonne Knaack, quoted by Fifield in her article, was an ardent Burdick supporter and who knows, may run for Mayor this time around.

The information chosen by the reporter to use with respect to the audit is also suspect. I believe this trip occurred in the summer of 2018 and the mayor reimbursed the city for his wife’s expenses in the fall of 2018. The audit occurred in the spring of 2019 with the auditor calling Weiers’ wife’s expenses as “disallowed” many months after the fact, even though the auditor knew that those expenses had been fully reimbursed many months earlier. The auditor’s use of the term “disallowed” implies that the action was purposefully illegal.

Fifield then refers to former Councilmember Chavira and cites his more than a dozen frivolous trips to Washington, D.C. at a taxpayer expense of over $25,000 during his term of office. Citing Chavira’s well known and notorious antics in a story about Weiers implies that Weiers is a bad actor like Chavira. That implication leads the reader to accept the bias in the article. Chavira abused the use of taxpayer funds repeatedly. Linking Weiers’ one trip to Chavira’s repeated abuses is certainly suspect in terms of bias.

To be clear, all members of the Glendale Sister Cities organization received the same blast email advertising the trip. All councilmembers who are members of the organization received it including me. I chose not to go for a variety of reasons both ethical and financial as I assumed I would be paying for my trip. Whether to go or not to go on any trip using taxpayer funds is a personal and ethical decision as a public official. For the hundred or so elected officials throughout this Valley, one could expect multiple decisions to go or not to go and to charge the city or not to charge the city as varied as the councilmembers themselves based upon each councilmember’s experience and standards. Some would have chosen to go considering it valid representation of a city. Others may not have chosen that option. There is no hard and fast rule in any city in this Valley. Should there be? You should be letting your elected officials know where you stand on this issue.

Did Mayor Weiers do something wrong and underhanded? That’s for you to decide. I have worked with him personally for the past several years and in my judgment that was the furthest thing from his mind. Having observed his actions he is a man who genuinely cares about Glendale and especially the least fortunate among us including our veterans’ community. His non-profit work is well known throughout the Valley.  This man would not deliberately cheat the taxpayers of Glendale. It was a decision Weiers chose to make in good faith. I would have made a different choice. Does that make him right and me wrong or vice versa? No.

I am not joined at the hip to Mayor Weiers. We have had our differences. The most important one to me was his vote in favor of Stonehaven while I was adamantly opposed. I see a distinct difference between Chavira who blatantly and repeatedly abused his office and Weiers one trip to Norway when he genuinely believed he was going as a representative of our city.

I am always concerned when we enter a political season. We are in one now for the 2020 election. It’s early I know but election cycles now seem to start almost immediately upon the completion of the previous election. This story appears to have been shared with the reporter in an attempt to bloody Weiers’ nose politically by linking him with Chavira’s abuses. This happens all the time and every politician is fair game during an electoral season but it is important that you, the reader, understand the context in which the story is framed.

© 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

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