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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

My informal poll is to the left of this column.

Ok. We are down to the wire. This Tuesday is the country’s official election day but many of us have already voted. I am going to leave this informal poll up until Tuesday evening.

This may be the most consequential election of our lifetimes.

Who did you vote for? This poll is anonymous. There is no way to trace or figure out who voted which way. You only get to vote once.

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

In all of my years of blog writing I have probably written follow up blogs about half a dozen times. I felt it necessary this time because of all of the misinformation on this issue. Let’s look at the allegations being thrown around about this issue.

Secrecy of process

The first time the issue of council pay raises was mentioned was at the city council workshop meeting on May of 2019. Councilmember Ray Malnar introduced a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI) requesting that council and staff take up the issue of city council pay raises stating that it had been 13 years since the last increase. The Mayor and I supported Councilmember Malnar’s request. In June of 2019 at its workshop city council authorized a citizen Compensation Committee. The committee started meeting immediately and met for 5 or 6 work sessions prior to making their recommendation. In July of 2019 at a city council workshop direction was given to place the question of council raises on the Special Election ballot already approved for this November. Much has been said about this meeting. Yes, it was a special workshop called because of the time requirements that had to be met for the Special Election. Remember the Special Election was called to meet the state mandate to conform to its requirement that the Primary Election date be moved from the 3rd Tuesday in August to the 1st Tuesday in August. Adding the question of council pay raises to an authorized Special Election made sense in terms of cost avoidance.

 In attendance at that workshop meeting were Mayor Weiers, myself, Councilmembers Hugh and Malnar. Councilmember Tolmachoff was on vacation and had notified all that she would not be able to attend. Councilmembers Turner and Aldama simply did not show up. They could have attended but they chose not to.  It is safe to assume that they are opposed to city council pay raises. However, if they were so intensely opposed rather than being ‘no-shows’ it was incumbent upon them to articulate their opposition.  Can we assume that if this question passes, they will stand by their opposition and reject increases to their salaries?

All workshops are public meetings and televised. Their agendas are posted as are the subsequent minutes. There are also videos of the workshop meetings posted on the city’s website. This issue was never a secret. The council held at least 3 workshops in which this issue was discussed. Typically, the majority of issues are discussed and direction given in just one workshop…occasionally there might be two workshops on the same issue and the second workshop is usually a follow up to the initial discussion. Three workshops on the same issue are unusual. So, where is the secrecy? It was an open, public process that if a citizen wanted to follow could be done. By the way, the citizen Compensation Committee’s meetings are also required to be open to the public and were publicly noticed. Where were all of the current protestors? Did any make an effort to attend even one of their meetings to offer public comment and to learn of the committee’s work and deliberations?

Pay raise methods

Traditionally Glendale has created a citizen’s committee and taken the recommendation to the voters. That would continue to work well if there were a regular, periodic schedule when this process would occur. That is not the case. The last two citizen recommended pay increases have been 13 years apart. That explains the large increases recommended. If you had to wait 13 years until your next pay raise you would expect it to be substantial.

Cities nationwide are moving away from this system and many now have an annual or biennial review that no longer requires voter approval. It is automatic and is usually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase or comparisons to other similarly populated cities. For example, Surprise which just increased council salaries by resolution also established a new policy in which the mayor and council salaries would be reviewed, and perhaps adjusted, every city election year, which is every other year. The Surprise council pay adjustments will be based on the average of the mayors and the average of council members in other Phoenix-area cities with populations of 100,000 to 300,000 as of Jan. 31 of the election year. Gilbert has had an automatic system based on the CPI in place for years. Glendale’s move to an automatic process is no longer an unusual practice.

Opposition’s motivations

A hit piece by a reporter who is identified as an “investigative reporter” has worked hard to make it appear that this is skull duggery and some kind of nefarious plot. That is the job of an investigative reporter. Keep in mind the goal is to stir the pot and create a fire where there is none.

Citizens who have voiced their opposition are free to do so and as you can see from the comments I do not reject or censor their thoughts. But they, too, have their motivations. Some are angry because the city has sold Glen Lakes Golf Course. Others dislike our Mayor or City Manager and some are displeased with other council decisions that have been made on issues such as the downtown events. It is understandable when viewed in the context of their displeasure on other issues for I note that nearly every comment begins with, ‘I believe city councilmembers deserve a raise but…’ Their objections are not to the question of the worthiness of a council pay raise.

Creation of a PAC

PACs are formed all the time in support of or in opposition to a ballot issue. My goodness, look at a recent Phoenix election on light rail. PACs were created all over the place both for and against the issue. A PAC called Best of the West was formed by some of the members of the citizen Compensation Committee. I haven’t talked to them but I assume they felt passionately enough about the issue to advocate for council raises. That is their right just as much as those who have publicly come out in opposition to this issue. Nothing they have done is illegal. It is not illegal to form a PAC on a ballot issue or to solicit contributions for a mailer supporting it.

As for allegations that somehow Councilmember Hugh is the mastermind behind it, I seriously doubt it. If the PAC asked him for advice or help he was free to provide it if he so chose. If I had been asked I would have helped as well. Each of us has made no secret of our support for council pay raises.

Lastly, there is a reason to support council pay raises that I did not speak to in my last blog because I chose to educate about the duties of a councilmember and that is “You get what you pay for.” At a salary of $34,000 you will get people who must have another job or seniors who are retired and can afford it. Yet it is recognized this is a full time job. I honestly don’t know how some councilmembers juggle two full time jobs. I know of one giving up a business to insure the necessary time can be given to this job. If you want to attract and to motivate younger, bright, capable individuals to this work then enough compensation is needed to create an opportunity for them to do so.

I continue to support council pay raises and it should be obvious to you, the reader, as to why. I urge you to vote “Yes” on authorizing the change of the Primary Election date and authorizing city council pay raises. Again, as I said previously, no matter your position, please, please, do vote. It is a right often ignored and taken for granted.

© 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.

For those of you who vote by mail you have probably received your Glendale ballot. In fact you may have received two ballots thanks to Adrian Fontes, the current Mauicopa County Recorder. Once again, the County Recorder messed up. Instead of putting the school district issues and Glendale issues on one ballot, they printed two separate ballots for about 4,000 of Glendale’s voters. I am one of those. When you receive them vote on both ballots and mail back both ballots in their correct envelopes.

This blog is devoted to the question of city council pay raises. Let me start at the beginning. The State of Arizona delivered another mandate to cities requiring all Primary Elections to be moved from the third Tuesday of the month to the first Tuesday of the month. It required all charter cities (Glendale is one) to be in compliance prior to the first Tuesday of August, 2020.

City Council made the decision to hold a Special Election to bring the city into conformance as soon as possible. The first date a city election could be held was November 5th of this year. Council decided that as long as a Special Election was to be held for one issue, it might as well add the question of city council raises, if that was the citizen Council Compensation Committee’s recommendation.

The citizen Council Compensation Committee made their recommendation to raise council salaries and place it on the ballot. Council agreed and added the question to that of the question of changing the Primary Election date to come into conformance with the state mandate.

Not all Metropolitan Phoenix cities allow voters to approve council salary increases. In Surprise, for instance, their Council approves pay increases by resolution. Recently they did just that and increased their salaries by resolution. Their salaries will be reviewed and adjusted in every city election year—in other words, every other year.

I believe I have earned a raise and I make no apology for stating such. In 1992, my first year as a councilmember, Glendale had a population of about 158,000, about 1200 employees and a total budget of about $500 million dollars. In 2019, Glendale has a population of about 250,000, about 2000 employees and a total budget of about $750 million dollars.

The first council raise I received was in 2006 after 10 years of service for me (I had a 4 year hiatus). It was in actuality, 14 years before councilmember salaries were raised from $12,000 to $34,000 a year upon recommendation of a citizen Council Compensation Committee and subsequent voter approval. It was an increase of $22,000 over 14 years or $1571 per year.

If the voters approve the current recommended salary increase it will have been another 10 years of service for me (I had a second 4 year hiatus). It will have actually been another 14 years if councilmember salaries are raised from $34,000 to $52,000. It would be an increase of $18,000 over 14 years or $1285 per year.

I said I earn it and I will try to convey why. I don’t think that unless you’ve been a local elected official that one can appreciate the requirements of the job. I think that everyone assumes that we vote at a council meeting every other Tuesday and that’s all there is to it. Not so. Hours and days are highly irregular and can include every day of the week (including Sunday) from an early morning breakfast event at 7 or 7:30 am to a regional dinner or banquet that ends at 10 or 11 pm. Because of the irregular hours and days, there are days that are 12 hour days and other days (not as often) that can be 4 or 5 hour work days.

Add other activities, meetings and events.  I chair the Council Business Committee and the Council Government Services Committee. I also serve on the Council Code Review Committee and the Arizona League of Cities Budget and Finance Committee. Add preparation time and travel time for those meetings.

Speaking of travel time, I still drive a 2004 model car. I am certainly not living high on the hog. After taxes, I take home about $25,000. The major annual mileage (80%) on the car is strictly for city business. I pay for all gas and maintenance. The city does not reimburse me and if it did, I would not put in for it. My cell phone is my personal cell and I pay the monthly bill. Again the majority of use (90%) is city related for I still have a landline at home that is used for friends and family. The city does not reimburse me and if it did, I would not put in for it. Or how about the use of my personal computer and tablet and related costs for an internet connection and for paper and toner?  I often print material so that I have something on which to make notes as I study the issue. I pay personally for all of those items.

Speaking of paying for work related items, I consider some civic memberships to be essential as an elected official but I pay for those memberships personally. One, for example, is the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. When I have a working lunch that does not include city topics exclusively, I pay for the attendees (sometimes accepted, sometimes not) or at least my own tab from my personal funds. If it is strictly city related, such as meeting high school principals for breakfast, I will use my city credit card. It’s a fine, ethical line and I tend to err on the side of caution. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some expenses but you get the idea.

Then there are meetings, seemingly endless meetings…with staff on issues from streets and traffic light issues to Police and Fire Promotion Ceremonies. There are also monthly one-on-one meetings with our City Attorney, City Manager and Council Office Manager on current or upcoming issues. There are texts, emails and one-on-one meetings with my Council Assistant. Then there are one-on-one constituent or HOA meetings that can last from an hour to several hours.

Now add a sprinkling of City Events from Caesar Chavez or Martin Luther King Day to Glendale Glitters to Tractor Days at Sahuaro Ranch. Everyone assumes that we get lots of freebie events such as concerts at the city owned Gila River Arena.  I have never gone to a concert that I have not personally paid for. The city does have a suite at the arena and when asked by the City’s Economic Development department to attend I go because it is my job. I barely pay attention to the event because we are asked to attend to make connections with economic development prospects in attendance. The city has no suite in the football stadium and I have never attended a Super Bowl game hosted by Glendale. There was one time that I was offered the opportunity to buy 2 Super Bowl tickets at the face value of $600 each. I passed. I couldn’t afford it. The 2 times I attended a Super Bowl it was out-of-town when the city was preparing to host it’s first ever Super Bowl and those were big time learning curve trips.  If I attend anything at the stadium I have paid, just like you, to be there. The city does have a suite at Camelback Ranch and I have only been in it as part of my job, for events such as Opening Day or for the closing ceremonies of a Youth Baseball League.

I’m not done yet. A major part of my job as a councilmember is solving constituent problems. The majority of the time I am successful but not always. In some instances the city has no law or code to address an issue. I am readily accessible by cell phone, 602-320-3422, and have received calls at 10 pm at night regarding football game day parking in a neighborhood to a 6 am call advising me that the Grand Canal Park’s sprinklers were flooding an area. Sometimes I can’t answer because I am at an event or in a meeting but I do try to return them at my earliest opportunity.  I attend neighborhood meetings, HOA meetings and one-on-one meetings with constituents. Each typically lasts from one to several evening hours. I host district-wide meetings twice a year and mail out a district-wide newsletter twice a year as well. I offer an online E News letter once a week. I use social media and have a Facebook page devoted to city news and events. I can’t write this blog as frequently as I would like to. Here it is, nearly 11 o’clock this evening and I may finish writing and editing by 1 am. It’s quiet now and I can think about this issue yet I know I will pay for it tomorrow as my first city commitment is at 9:30 am.

Here is another task to add to this ever growing list and that is research and preparation for council workshops and voting meetings. Forget having a free weekend. Typically we receive the council workshop agenda on a Wednesday before the Tuesday meeting and the council voting meeting agenda on the Friday before the Tuesday meeting. Since there isn’t much free time during the week, I like most of the other councilmembers, end up using either our Saturday or Sunday afternoons doing our “homework.” It often entails a flurry of emails to staff members to get further information or to ask questions on an agenda topic. It easily consumes all afternoon. Follow up often takes additional time on Monday mornings.

Once again, I know there are probably other activities that I have forgotten to include as I write this. I think you get the idea. It is a job that requires flexibility; intelligence; curiosity; and patience.

In some instances it can be a thankless job for never, ever, is everyone pleased with a decision made or a vote cast. I rarely receive a ‘thank you’ nor do I expect it. I will often hear from some citizens when they think my decision or vote was not what they wanted or expected. Despite all of that I love my job. Why? Because of the variety of the job. No two days are ever alike. There is always something new to learn.

 I think I am good at my job. I’m accessible and committed. I love Glendale and I love my district, the Yucca district. My district is hot. It’s where the majority of new economic development and new residential development is occurring. It keeps me busy meeting with potential economic developers.

In 1992, when I first became the Yucca district councilmember it was a part time job. Today, it is a full time job. City issues are far more complex. The city’s population increase means there are more constituents in each district and hence more constituent demands on a councilmember’s time. The use of the internet and social media has added a whole new dimension to the job. Have I earned a raise? I believe so and I hope after reading this you believe so too. No matter how you vote on the two Glendale issues please remember to vote and to exercise a freedom not found in many countries in our world. I already voted. Did you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

 

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