Header image alt text

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.

Despite being approved unanimously by the Arizona State Legislature, (60-0 in the House and 29-0 in the Senate), Governor Ducey vetoed HB2473 STATE LIQUOR BOARD; MEMBERSHIP.  This bill began with an idea I brought forward to the Glendale City Council in late 2017.  It was and still is a very reasonable solution to begin to address many of the critical issues of concern with liquor licenses in all of the communities in Arizona. I would like to provide some background and commentary on where the Governor’s actions leave us today.

There is a lot of frustration among cities and towns across the state from city councils who spend a lot of time reviewing, listening to their communities, residents and law enforcement officers in order to make a recommendation of approval or denial on liquor licenses for establishments that will be in their communities.

A council’s recommendation for approval or denial then goes on to the State Liquor Board and cities (most noticeably some of the smaller rural communities) have felt for a long time that the licenses are quickly approved by the liquor board often without any consideration or even discussion about any concerns raised by local city leaders. Cities that recommend denials are usually over ridden by the Board.

The Board’s long history is one of generally ignoring city recommendations. I guess the Board thinks a city can never have enough bars, package stores and convenience stores selling liquor. I know of several square miles within Glendale that have over a dozen of these establishments within them, often in very, very close proximity to one another. Just how many liquor establishments in a small geographical area are necessary “to serve the public’s need and convenience?”                                                                          

For several years now, cities throughout Arizona have started a rallying cry for major reforms to the State Liquor Board and how we deal with the proliferation of liquor establishments in certain areas of our cities.  Having been an elected official for many years, I have learned that you cannot introduce major reforms in one fell swoop at the Legislature. You have to take baby steps, particularly in an area like liquor.  Instead, you have to incrementally and strategically introduce ideas that can begin to address the underlying problems associated with the bigger issues.  It was with this wisdom that I introduced, as a Council Item of Special Interest, the idea of running legislation that would designate one of the 7 seats on the State Liquor Board as a municipal representative which could be a current or former elected official.                                                                                                                   

Currently there are 7 seats on the State Liquor Board, 2 of which are designated for representatives of the liquor industry, 1 that is designated for a neighborhood group representative, and 4 at large seats.  This bill would simply have designated one of these at-large seats for a current or former elected official, who would be nominated by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns (the League) and appointed by the Governor.                                      

The purpose was simply to ensure that municipal perspectives are clearly understood when the Liquor Board is considering license applications.  Having a municipal representative on the board would allow them to share information related to local operations as well as to answer questions from other board members from a local government perspective.  Since these businesses will ultimately be operating in cities, it is important that the board clearly understand the potential effects, both positive and negative, on cities when making a determination on a liquor license application. The industry has several dedicated seats and we felt it was appropriate that cities and towns also have a representative since we bear the burden of their decisions.                     

In my concept, the process of identifying a municipal representative that the Governor could consider was also very simple.  The Executive Committee of the League of Cities, which is made up of 25 Mayors from around the state, would forward 3 names to the Governor for his consideration for that dedicated at-large seat.                                                                         

This concept was modeled after the 2016 bill (SB 1428) that Governor Ducey supported and signed  allowing  mayors to forward at least 3 names to the Governor for the new dedicated municipal seat on the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) Board of Trustees. It also allowed that if the Governor didn’t like the names he wouldn’t be forced to appoint anyone.  In fact, there are already two vacant at-large seats that have been left unfilled by the Governor for several years now. When that occurs the League’s mayors can submit additional names for the Governor’s consideration as an appointment.                                                                     

With unanimous support of the Glendale City Council, I worked with Glendale’s Public Affairs staff to have the concept introduced in 2018 into the policy making process of the League so that it could be considered by all cities and towns for inclusion in the League’s legislative agenda for this session.  Again, I was attempting to turn the temperature down on the larger rallying cry and calls to go to war on the liquor issue.  What I was proposing was a common-sense compromise.                                                                

 I attended the League Military and Public Safety Policy Committee and advocated for it to be approved and forwarded by the committee to the League’s Resolutions Committee for full adoption.  The Committee did so unanimously. Next, it went to the Resolutions Committee of the League which is made up of the Mayors from all 91 incorporated Cities and Towns in Arizona.  They unanimously approved it for inclusion into the League’s 2019 State Legislative Agenda.

Prior to the start of this current session, the legislative proposal was then brought to the liquor industry in an attempt to get it included in the annual “Liquor Omnibus” bill.  Essentially this is the bill that packages all of the liquor legislation for the upcoming session.  Here is the catch though, nothing can be included in the omnibus bill unless there is unanimous support from the liquor industry lobbyists and their attorney representatives. The industry, of course, declined to provide unanimous support even though they were unable to identify any concerns. They just wanted things to stay the way they are right now on the Liquor Board, meaning only industry reps should have dedicated seats. They were guarding their turf while doing a disservice to the state’s general public.

Having been rebuffed by the liquor industry, in consultation with staff, we approached Representative Anthony Kern, Republican from District 20 in Glendale to sponsor the stand-alone bill and lead it through the legislative process.  He agreed and did a fantastic job.

The bill was introduced in the first few days of the legislative session in January, 2019.  Over the next 4 months, staff, elected officials and neighborhood leaders reached out to their legislators and educated them on the issue all the while advocating for them to approve the bill in committees and on floor votes.  There were many conversations, meetings and work, but it paid off. 

The bill was well received by all legislators as it should have been. It had already been unanimously supported by all 91 cities and towns, which doesn’t happen very often.  The mayors of these cities are the mayors of the residents of their legislator’s districts. The legislative members unanimously supported it (which is a rare feat in a split party legislature), because they have consistently been hearing for years from their mayors and councils how upset they are with having no voice at the Liquor Board. 

This bill was a great opportunity to support a change that didn’t affect the balance of the board, didn’t threaten the liquor industry’s majority, and wouldn’t have any impact on the liquor businesses who many of the legislators also support.  It simply gave the cities a voice and someone they could talk to about their concerns.

So why did Governor Ducey veto this bill which had nothing but complete support and no voiced opposition?  In his veto letter he states; “this bill adds an extra step to the nomination of one of the seven seats on the State Liquor Board, resulting in the inconsistencies in the selection process and creating a new, burdensome hurdle for appointment. We should be focused on reducing red tape not adding to it.”

What is ironic is that this “new hurdle” was modeled after something he had already supported and which he approved in a previous PSPRS bill.  So tell us Governor, why was that not considered red tape when approving the PSPRS bill but its red tape as you veto the Liquor Bill? I suspect you can’t with a straight face.

It is also puzzling that he would say that it creates a burdensome hurdle for an appointment when the whole intent was to get one of the two seats that had been left vacant by the Governor for many years, quickly filled with a municipal representative.  Governor Ducey ends his letter by stating, “I am open to discussions to include a municipal representative on the Liquor Board, but adding a new step in the nomination process is unnecessary”. 

What the Governor is really saying is he wants to appoint who he wants to appoint, when and if he wants to appoint.  He is open to conversations, but he doesn’t want to have to consider a slate of names forwarded by the State’s mayors.  After all, the individuals they forward may not be liquor industry cronies.  In other words, if there is a former elected official that is in cahoots with the liquor industry he might be willing to consider them as they would fit into the “liquor industry only” qualifications that seem to make up the existing Board.  However, that would be worked out through “conversations” not state statute.  It’s unclear who the “conversations” he refers to would be with, but I have a pretty good idea.

While I am angry, I can’t say that I am shocked. What might not be so well known is that while Doug Ducey was pursuing a Finance degree from ASU, for four years (1982 – 1986) Ducey worked at the Hensley & Company, an Anheuser-Busch distributorship, now owned by Cindy McCain, widow of former U.S. John McCain.  He is well known within political circles to have very close relationships and ties to the liquor industry, their lobbyists and their well paid attorneys. 

Once the liquor industry lobbyists stopped this bill from becoming part of their legislative omnibus package, they obviously just sat back and said nothing during this legislative session. They offered no opposition to a common-sense package that would be impossible to oppose publicly under any circumstances.  They were able to take comfort in the fact that they had the ultimate backstop, their friend, Governor Doug Ducey.  All they had to do was whisper in the Governor’s ear, once it got to his desk, that things should remain as they are on the Board – “Liquor Industry Reps Only” – and out came the veto stamp and some ridiculous statements on the bill creating “red tape” as a red herring. 

If we really want to cut red tape here’s a novel idea.  I would propose that any liquor license denied by a city or town council should die right then and there with no advancement to the State Liquor Board.  Imagine the time, energy and resources that would be saved by the State Liquor Board only having to consider those licenses which have been recommended for approval by a city council.  After all, cities are the ones that have to deal with all of the public safety, human and neighborhood related costs of liquor establishments in their communities. It’s where the rubber meets the road.

So where does that leave us today? I wish I could say that we are back to square one. However, I fear we have taken two steps back from square one with this veto.  In an attempt to start solving the larger concerns, I introduced a simple, low hanging fruit solution. Cities were then told with this veto, that it was too much reform, that it went too far and that we should have “conversations” not “representation”. I don’t anticipate this Governor or his liquor friends will change their minds anytime soon.  If I am honored to be re-elected to another four-year term to represent Glendale’s Yucca District in 2020, I am committed to introducing this bill again, when there is a new Governor of Arizona sworn in on January 2023.

I want to especially thank Representative Anthony Kern for his hard work in getting this bill through the state legislature as well as the other 91 city councils and mayors in the State League for their unwavering commitment and all of the Arizona State Legislators for their leadership and unanimous support of this bill.

© 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, March 12th, the voters of Phoenix will choose their new mayor. The candidates are both former councilmembers, Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela. I noted an opinion column by Elvia Diaz in the March 7th edition of the Arizona Republic. In the piece Ms. Diaz remarks on Valenzuela’s unabashed support for giving the Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver over $170,000 dollars of Phoenix taxpayers’ money.

One of her comments struck me as particularly relevant, “There is a reason why he (Sarver) and other heavy-hitters are backing Valenzuela. They know they can keep getting sweet deals with him at the helm of City Hall.”

I find that remark of hers to be descriptive of Valenzuela’s style of leadership. I do not have a personal relationship with either candidate. I have met Valenzuela a few times and my last opportunity to talk to him was a ‘one-on-one’ over coffee. It was apparent at that meeting that he seemed to be seeking my support as a Glendale councilmember. It was something I would not give as there were events in Valenzuela’s background that bothered me.

The contrast between Gallego and Valenzuela couldn’t be starker. Gallego, in viewing her debate performances, exhibits a command of and a depth of knowledge about Phoenix issues and proposes solutions that Valenzuela simply could not match. He appeared to be out-of-his-depth.

Valenzuela, unfortunately, does not seem to be very bright.  His problem is when you don’t know about issues, you turn to others for answers. It seems apparent that Valenzuela will turn to those ‘heavy-hitters’ who contributed mightily to his campaign for his answers. Those answers may not serve the best interests of the ordinary Phoenix resident.

Perhaps the most concerning is his job as a Glendale fire fighter. I asked Danny if he were willing to terminate his Glendale fire fighting job if he should be elected mayor of Phoenix. He was unwilling to do so and stated that he would continue to perform both jobs. As a Glendale councilmember I know how much time I devote to this job and it is considerable. The job has odd hours as well. I could be going to staff informational meetings during the course of a day, attend a luncheon and do a ribbon cutting or attend a regional event in the evening. It is not a 9 to 5 job.

I just couldn’t envision how Valenzuela would manage doing a 24 hour shift at a Glendale fire station. I also couldn’t envision Valenzuela’s security detail riding on a Glendale fire truck with him as his station answered a call.

Over time, as this question of dual jobs became more and more prominent during his campaign, Valenzuela eventually modified his position by stating that he would take a leave of absence from his Glendale fire fighter’s job.  Really? Just how was that supposed to work? Glendale was going to hold his old job for him for 4 years and then whenever he decided he’d come back and he could pick up where he left off? A very sweet deal that I doubt you or I would ever be given.

There’s an old adage “that we are judged by the company we keep.” Time for a little back story. Sammy Chavira and Danny Valenzuela were buddies. After all, Sammy was a Glendale councilmember and a Phoenix fire fighter and Danny was a Phoenix councilmember and a Glendale fire fighter. Both were members of the Hispanic Fire Fighters Association (HFFA) until both resigned under curious circumstances. Both urged the HFFA to hold a major fund raising event using friends of both gentlemen to produce the event.  The HFAA lost tons of money and there was never an audited accounting of where the revenues from the event went. Shortly thereafter both men resigned.

Sammy Chavira disgraced himself as a Glendale councilmember with a series of questionable trips using taxpayer money such as flying to Washington, D.C. to see the Pope. Chavira even used his city credit card to buy dinner for a group of Phoenix officials, including Valenzuela. That was a ‘no-no’. When it became public all of the officials, including Valenzuela, reimbursed the city of Glendale for their portion of the dinner expense.

When Valenzuela announced his run for mayor, he cut all ties with Chavira and terminated their relationship. All well and good but it begs the question, how many other Chavira-type friends does Valenzuela have?

Speaking of friends, how does the fire union fit into Valenzuela’s candidacy? I think we can all assume that they are helping him every possible way that they can…money, expertise and manpower. They can be expected to be giddy with joy should Valenzuela win the seat. Finally, they would have a friend in a real position of power that would fulfill their agenda.

Lastly, as noted in a Laurie Roberts’ Arizona Republic column today, suddenly dark money is being spent at a dizzying rate for Valenzuela in the last few days before the election. Today there is a full page ad in the Republic paid for by Advancing Freedom, Inc. a non-profit based in Oklahoma. Who or what is Advancing Freedom? Is it the light rail folks, the fire union or Sarver and the Suns? We’ll probably never know as they are not required to list their sources of funding under $50,000.

 It certainly smells of last minute desperation. It seems like a ‘Hail Mary pass’. Do they know something through their polling that we don’t know? And is it that Gallego is about to become Phoenix’s second female mayor? Let’s hope so.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

On February 6, 2019 Laurie Roberts penned an opinion column in the Arizona Republic about tactics being used by the fire union as it inserts itself into the Phoenix election for Mayor between Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela. Here is the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2019/02/06/police-and-fire-groups-attack-kate-gallego-unfair/2784074002/ .

When I read the piece it was déjà vu all over again. It immediately took me back to my 2012 election run against Sammy Chavira, a Glendale resident and Phoenix fire fighter. The fire union poured thousands of dollars into fact manipulated ads against me. Sammy was their guy, their brother, and by God they were going to do what they needed to do to get him elected. They out spent me 4 or 5 to 1 and of course, waited to attack in the closing days of the campaign forestalling any opportunities to rebut the fast and loose “facts” they used. Too bad their guy was allegedly a crook who spent taxpayer money on unnecessary trips such as a visit to Washington, D.C. to see the Pope. Sammy served one term and did not survive in his run for a second term.

Now the fire union is doing it again. Danny Valenzuela is a Phoenix resident and a Glendale fire fighter running for the mayorship of Phoenix. Is it any wonder that the fire union, using a political action committee (PAC) called Moving Phoenix Forward created expressly for this purpose, has employed what are clearly dirty ads to get their failing candidate elected? In the November 2018 Phoenix primary Danny could only muster about 25% of the vote and trailed Gallego by nearly 2 to 1. They are desperate and now anything goes. Why? Because fire wants a raise and they know their brother Danny will give it to them.

Here are some of the quotes from Laurie Roberts’s opinion column:

“With early balloting for Phoenix mayor just a week away, police and firefighter unions are out with an ad attacking front runner Kate Gallego.”

“…police officers and firefighters would be so desperate to get their guy elected that they would play fast and loose with facts.”

“In a Jan. 31 press release announcing the ad, Moving Phoenix Forward pronounces the election ‘a dead heat once likely voters learn the facts’. Then they spent $400,000 distorting those facts.”

I don’t personally know Kate Gallego. In fact, I have never met her. She impresses me as an elected official who does her “homework” I can recognize and appreciate other elected officials who do likewise. Kate Gallego is one of those. She does do her homework and has an incredible array of knowledge about the operations of the City of Phoenix. It appears to me that her commitment to the job is truly to serve the interests of each and every resident in Phoenix and not just the special interests.

Just remember Danny is the candidate who said if elected he will remain a Glendale fire fighter. I can just see his security detail riding on a fire truck with him. When he received a lot of push back on that idea he amended his statement to say he would take a leave of absence from the Glendale fire department. No one is sure this is even a workable solution. Does Danny expect the city to leave his position vacant for four years, should he be elected and then be given his job back whenever he requests it? This is the same Danny who, it is alleged, had an affair while married. This is the same Danny whom, if elected, will be bought and paid for strictly by special interest groups who donated to his campaign. This is the same Danny whom, if elected, will most likely throw the concerns and interests of the average Phoenician under the bus if it conflicts with those who donated heavily to his campaign. Danny appears to be part of the “good ole’ boy” school of governing. You know the type. We’ve seen that type of elected official over and over again. It’s the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality. The people of Phoenix deserve better and can get it with Kate Gallego.

© 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 choice for a new Mayor of Phoenix is less than 2 weeks away.  I really have no dog in the fight regarding the Phoenix mayoral election but I was intrigued by a recent opinion piece by Robert Robb in the Arizona Republic questioning why the position of Phoenix mayor should be a full time job. In an October 14, 2018 column entitled Here’s why Phoenix needs a part-time mayor Mr. Robb states, “Making decisions about overall policies that put city government on a stable and sustainable path, rather than temporizing and punting, is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be terribly time-consuming.” He goes on to say, “The only way to turn the mayor position, and the city council position as well, into a full-time job is to expand its activities to include political pursuits only marginally related to the charter function of setting sound overall policy.” Here is the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/robertrobb/2018/10/14/phoenix-mayor-should-part-time-daniel-valenzuela-right/1606614002/ .

One can understand Mr. Robb’s point of view if you accept that he an outsider looking in. His premise is that all activities unrelated to establishing city policy are purely political in nature with the ultimate goal of furthering the elected official’s political career and agenda.

So, Mr. Robb, when an elected official sits on a regional or local committee or board, according to your premise it’s only to advance a political career and not to represent or advance the interests of or the position of that community? Really? So when the elected official sits on a council subcommittee it’s only to advance a political career and not to represent or advance the interests of the represented constituency? Really? So when the elected official is invited to a neighborhood meeting or a local event it’s only to advance a political career and not to communicate with one’s constituency? Really?

There are many events and activities that are outside the scope of sitting at a dais and voting on policy. There’s also a great deal of ‘homework’ for the conscientious elected official to research and consider before casting that policy vote.

Seventeen years ago when I was first elected as a city councilmember it was a part time job and I received commensurate part time compensation. Over the years the job has grown in the complexity of the policy issues about which we decide as well as time spent on regional cooperation and constituency services on a one-to-one basis. In a large city it can no longer be considered a part time job. Then magnify the responsibilities of a councilmember for that of a mayor of a large city. It is most definitely a full time job that admittedly has the elected official pursuing some political agenda but predominately serving the needs of the city and its constituents.

The past mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, received a salary of $88,000 a year. I do not know if he received a cell phone or car allowance but benefits would include at a minimum, medical benefits and a city contribution to his pension.  If the Phoenix mayoral position is considered as a part time job surely the compensation would reflect that as well. A salary of $88,000 a year plus benefits is more than many Phoenicians earn. So, Mr. Robb, a part time job deserves a part time salary.

This issue is pertinent because on October 4th, Valenzuela’s campaign made the following announcement, “I will put my firefighter career on hold during my term if elected as Mayor of Phoenix.” Apparently the candidate has tacitly recognized that being the Mayor of one of the largest cities in the country is a full time job.

His announcement raises a whole new set of questions. What does putting his Glendale fire fighting career on “hold” mean exactly? Is he proposing a sabbatical or leave? With or without pay? When he decides to resume his fire fighting career would there have to be a city commitment offering him his job back immediately?

Nearly every city will grant sabbatical or leave time. It has been typically and historically used and granted to city personnel called up to active military duty, short sabbaticals for research, maternity leave, etc. To my knowledge sabbaticals and leaves have never been granted for a strictly political reason such as holding elected office or for such a long time…4 years. Phoenix voters and Glendale taxpayers have the right to know exactly what putting Valenzuela’s career on hold entails. The voters should know whether they are really getting a full time mayor. The taxpayers of Glendale should know if Valenzuela will continue to receive his current salary if he is on “hold” and if his “hold” time impacts his pension.

There was one other comment made by Mr. Robb in his opinion piece that was of interest and that was, “Valenzuela is the candidate of the status quo powers: the firefighters union and the business community. As mayor, he is unlikely to rock many boats.” This is probably the understatement of all time. He is more likely to advance the firefighters union and business community agenda. After all, they will have brought him to the dance.

Mr. Valenzuela’s campaign has relied heavily on his position as a Glendale firefighter. His campaign signs shout fire fighter. His campaign website has photos with Glendale fire trucks at one of the city’s fire stations. How can one tell? Glendale fire vehicles are yellow and Phoenix fire vehicles are red.

Is this a violation of the federal Hatch Act? I’m not an attorney so obviously I don’t know. But here is some background on the Hatch Act. It is a federal law passed in 1939. It limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as some state, D.C., and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. ​In 1940, the law was expanded to cover state and local employees whose salaries are paid, in part, by federal funds or whose duties are connected to federally funded activities. The Supreme Court has on two occasions upheld its constitutionality. It prohibits the use of government resources or position to affect the results of an election.

Over the years the Glendale Fire Department has been the recipient of federal grants. The most notable and frequently received have been the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grants, just one of a menu of Homeland Security grants available to cities. It would seem that Mr. Valenzuela has participated in or benefitted from UASI grants and that his duties are and have been, from time to time during his 15 years as a Glendale fire fighter, connected to federally funded activities. Therefore the use of government assets and equipment for his campaign could be a Hatch Act Violation.

It is up to the Phoenix voter to decide whether you will be getting the benefit of a part time or full time mayor. It’s up to the Phoenix voter to decide whether Mr. Valenzuela’s use of Glendale resources to tout his position as a fire fighter in his campaign is appropriate.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

If you see a disclaimer come up that indicates that my site is not safe it is because I have not yet procured an SSL certificate recently required for internet sites. I am in the process but I assure you my site is safe.

Late on Thursday afternoon, October 11, 2018 the following was delivered to Mayor Jerry Weiers as well as copies to the entire Glendale City Council, Glendale’s City Manager and the entire Phoenix City Council. It is not marked as a confidential document.

It is a Press Release for immediate release to the media and copied to the respective parties named above.

I have no comment at this time as either an elected official of Glendale or a private citizen. I have no idea if the allegations offered are true or false. However, this is a public document and within it is the representation of serious allegations that have been provided to all media. As a public document released to the media I believe that the citizens of Glendale and Phoenix are entitled to view the Press Release and the allegations contained therein.  It is up to you to draw your own conclusions about its veracity.

All of the parties who received the Press Release also received a copy of an interview by the young lady making the allegations. I am not releasing the video copy at this time until I have had an opportunity to consult with the Glendale City Attorney.

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 don’t generally write about political affairs in other communities but the Phoenix mayoral race has special relevance to Glendale. One of the mayoral candidates is current Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela. Councilmember Valenzuela also happens to be a Glendale fire fighter.

Councilmember Valenzuela invited me to have coffee with him on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at a downtown Glendale site, A Shot of Java. Out of an abundance of curiosity I accepted his invitation to meet.

First, a little background is in order about the Phoenix mayoral race. The current mayor is Greg Stanton. He has announced his intention to run for Congress in District 9 to replace Krysten Sinema, who is running for U.S. Senate. Stanton has until May 30, 2018, to submit his nominating petition signatures. At that time he must resign as Phoenix’s mayor. That action will trigger two of the current Phoenix councilmembers, who have already declared their run for mayor, Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela, to submit their nominating petitions and resign from office as well. As a side note, Moses Sanchez (R) and Nicolas Sarwark (L) have also announced their candidacies for Phoenix mayor. Lastly, Michael Nowakowski, another Phoenix councilmember, is still mulling whether he, too, will run for mayor. Potentially, there could be at least 5 candidates for the Phoenix mayoral position. Since it appears that Stanton will stay as Phoenix mayor as long as he can (May 30th) it means that the election will take place in August or November of 2018. An August election date favors Republicans and a November date favors the Democrats (even though Phoenix races are supposed to be nonpartisan). My bet is we will see a November date set for the election of the next Phoenix mayor.

Let’s take a closer look at Valenzuela’s political and fire fighter lives. Valenzuela was first elected to the Phoenix city council and took office in 2012. Coincidentally, that is when Danny’s pal, Sammy Chavira, ran for the Glendale Yucca council district seat and defeated me. Sammy and Danny have been friends for quite some time. More about this relationship later. Something not heard of before on the Arizona political scene occurred. A Glendale fire fighter ran for Phoenix city council and won and at the same time a Phoenix fire fighter ran for Glendale city council and won. The fire fighters’ union had to have been in “hog heaven.” Valenzuela ran for his second term in 2016 and won. Sammy ran for his second term in 2016 and lost…to me.

During the bulk of my time as a Glendale councilmember from 2000 to 2012, I never interacted with Glendale fire fighter Danny Valenzuela. During that time I do know he served as Glendale Fire Department’s Public Information Officer but I never had occasion to contact him about any matter. We may have occasionally attended the same functions but I simply didn’t know him.

Back to our meeting on February 6th. I did not initiate the meeting. Councilmember Valenzuela’s staff contacted my staff to set it up. Since it was his meeting it was appropriate for him to set the topic of conversation. Obviously, it centered on his announced candidacy for Phoenix mayor. Since I did not know him, he offered a short biography of his professional life. After that opening, I felt it was appropriate to ask him a question that many have wondered about…and that was, if he were elected as mayor would he resign as a Glendale fire fighter? Surprisingly his answer was “No.” He stated that he works a 40 hour week as a Glendale fire fighter (even though the work week for Glendale fire fighters is 52 hours a week). He said he usually does one shift over the weekend at a Glendale fire station and the balance of his time is spent at the Glendale Public Safety Training Facility (GRPSTC) working on ‘special projects’. Knowing the time commitment of a Glendale councilmember and knowing that Phoenix is ten times larger and hence the responsibilities of the job greater, my reaction was that the time commitment as Phoenix’s mayor simply would not allow him to continue as a Glendale fire fighter.  He believes that he can do both.

We moved on to the topic of Sammy Chavira, Valenzuela’s long time friend, although Valenzuela contends that their relationship is no longer close and has been severed. For those of you who don’t know the history, Sammy Chavira is a former, disgraced Glendale councilmember, who served only one term. During his term, Sammy was found to have habitually used his councilmember budget (taxpayer funds) inappropriately. During the 2016 election cycle it was discovered, among other things,  that Sammy had used his budget to fly to D.C. to see the Pope and used his city pro card to pay for dinner and drinks for a large contingent of Phoenix officials, including Valenzuela. Valenzuela insists that he had no idea that Sammy was using city funds to pay for that dinner. After the incident became public, he, along with other Phoenix officials, has reimbursed the City of Glendale for their portions of that infamous dinner.

Sammy and Danny, at one time, were both members of the International Association of Hispanic Fire Fighters Union. Although details are murky apparently they engineered a fund raising event for the organization that resulted in unaccounted revenues that disappeared.  The organization was informed that there were no profits generated from the event and ended up having to pay off creditors. Subsequently, both men resigned from that organization. What troubles me is the old saying, “you are judged by the company you keep.” While Sammy and Danny have been long time friends, they are no longer…due to political expediency?

Another area of conversation between Valenzuela and I centered on a future Ball Park Boulevard extension. This road is adjacent to Camelback Ranch and its extension would open up the entire area around it for economic development. I was not on council between 2012 and 2016 but I know that Glendale staff and various Glendale councilmembers discussed this issue with Valenzuela during his first term on Phoenix city council, seeking his support for Glendale’s goals with regard to Ballpark Boulevard. While Valenzuela expressed his support to various Glendale entities for Glendale’s vision, he never acted upon his declared support.

By now, we had consumed over an hour of discussion and both Valenzuela and I had other commitments to attend. I thanked him for arranging our meeting and for his time and I wished him well. Over the past 3 weeks I have had time to digest that meeting and Valenzuela’s responses to my queries. I have talked to countless others, political insiders and ordinary citizens. I find that I cannot support his candidacy for 3 reasons:

  • The major reason is his intent to retain his position as a Glendale fire fighter should be become Phoenix’s mayor. It is unrealistic to assume that he could do both jobs well. One would suffer and I suspect it would be his fire fighter job.
  • Even though Valenzuela now disavows his long time relationship with Chavira, it signifies poor judgment for having maintained a friendship with him for so long despite Chavira’s unsavory financial activities.
  • Valenzuela’s inability to or unwillingness to move the issue of Ballpark Boulevard forward on Phoenix’s agenda seems to indicate that he may say one thing yet do (or not do) another.

I wish Valenzuela luck in his run for mayor of Phoenix but I believe there are other candidates out there worthy of your consideration. I urge you to check them out and to consider voting for one of them.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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

In the November 9, 2017 edition of the Glendale Star Councilmember Bart Turner offered a guest commentary entitled the “Top 10 reasons to proceed with light rail.” While he is a fierce advocate for light rail his position does not comport with a majority of city council. Those who gave direction to abandon moving forward with light rail were Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh, Councilmember Malnar and I. There were only two councilmembers definitively in support of light rail and they were Councilmembers Turner and Aldama. Councilmember Tolmachoff never really responded in any clear cut fashion. Aldama’s position in an election year may not bode well for him as he seemed to ignore a great many downtown business owners opposed to the concept.

Before I launch into a rebuttal of Councilmember Turner’s commentary I want to recommend two articles written by Randal O’Toole that I found while researching this issue. The first, “The coming transit apocalypse” was published as a policy paper by the Cato Institute on October 24, 2017. Here is the link:
https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/coming-transit-apocalypse .

The second, also by O’Toole was published in the Wall Street Journal on November 10, 2017. It is entitled “It’s the Last Stop on the Light-Rail Gravy Train: Mayors want new lines that won’t be ready for a decade. Commuters will be in driverless cars by then.” Here is the link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/its-the-last-stop-on-the-light-rail-gravy-train-1510354782 . Both are well worth reading.

Turner’s top reason for supporting light rail is that it was a component of Proposition 402 approved by voters on November 6, 2001, 16 years ago. I bet if light rail were on a ballot today it would go down in flaming defeat.

The specific ballot language said, “That all revenues from the 0.5% increase in the privilege and use tax authorized by this ordinance shall be deposited in a separate transportation fund that shall be used only for transportation purposes in accordance with Proposition Number 402 , including the following:

  • Intersection improvements
  • Street projects
  • Expansion of existing bus services
  • Increased Dial-A-Ride services
  • Express bus service
  • Regional light rail connection
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Projects
  • Airport projects
  • Safety improvements”

 At that time the proposition was deliberately crafted to offer a potpourri of 9 items. The working assumption was that a menu of items was sure to appeal to various stakeholders. Light rail was included and its insertion onto the ballot measure was as contentious as its possible location. It was assumed at that time that this inclusion was the surest way to insure its passage by its advocates at that time.

And yes, Proposition 402 did pass on a vote of 8,313 yes votes (64%) and 4,664 no votes (36%). The ballot proposition was very general in its wording. It did not mandate that any of the above action items take precedence over any other. It also did not present a time line under which these items were to be completed.

It is fair to say that many of the voters wanted improved bus services as well as intersection improvements and street maintenance and repair. They were willing to accept all elements of the ballot in order to get the options that were important to them – streets, intersections and better bus service.  That was the voters’ agenda then and it remains the voters’ agenda now.

Turner goes on to state that there is enough city funding to get light rail to 51st Avenue and Glendale Avenue but that is not accurate as the estimated costs show a deficit of $400,00. See the chart below:

When we consider capital construction and operations & maintenance (O&M) costs — beware. Fares generate only one-quarter to one-third of operating expenses. There will be significant annual operational costs causing a redistribution of income from all taxpayers to subsidize light rail riders. Historically ridership fluctuates with the condition of the national economy. When gas prices are high or we are in the midst of a recession ridership increases. When gas is cheap or times are good, we climb right back into our cars. Soon we will see driverless cars whose cost of operation will compete very favorably with transit fares.

Light rail is very, very expensive. Typically it is 20 times the construction cost of all other forms of mass transit. Generally, construction delays and cost overruns are endemic. Federal and state subsidies are needed to construct the rail line and to maintain and operate the system. All federal grants require assurances. In other words, there are strings attached. One of those required federal assurances is that the light rail system will never be shut down.

What about the disruption to traffic and local businesses during construction? Most of the downtown businesses that would be affected by 2 to 3 years of light rail construction will end up closing or moving to another location. They are concerned and they have every right to be. Many are small businesses that cannot afford the kind of disruption that occurs with light rail construction. Many may end up being replaced by multi-family…most likely not high-end multi-family either.

What about Turner’s contention that light rail provides a “catalyst” for high-quality redevelopment? According to an Excel presentation provided to me by Valley Metro current development to-date along the existent light rail lines (Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe) show that anywhere from an estimated 3% to 30% of the investment in new development that occurs along a light rail route is public money (municipal funding). In addition it is quite likely that the incentive funding provided by the city to attract private development will have to compete with other General Fund priorities. In essence, taxpayer subsidies boost development along transit lines and around stations. Do you want to divert your taxpayer dollars to incentivize development along a light rail line? The catalyst will be city investment and city incentives offered to developers.

What kind of investment is typical along a light rail line? Again, based on information provided by Valley Metro, the new development tends to be a double digit percentage increase in the addition of multi-family (apartments) and the decrease of retail (percentage is variable from single digit decline to double digit decline).  Are you willing to trade downtown retail locations for apartments? Do you think the disappearance of existent stores and restaurants and the addition of more apartments in their stead is high-quality development? Did you know that properties near light rail stations in low income areas experience negative benefits?

Councilmember Turner suggests that, “a rubber-tired trolley can ferry light rail passengers throughout downtown.” Why would that be necessary? Light rail lines cannot be rerouted. They are fixed.  They create a certain inflexibility. Consider a rail breakdown or the permanent elimination of a temporary street closure caused by a special event (Glendale Glitters? Chocolate Affaire?) or a parade (Christmas parade?). There can be a permanent inconvenience to motorists when a street lane is lost or if they are required to wait behind a rail car while passengers get on or off. Motorists often react to light rail location by choosing alternate nearby streets. Suddenly the vehicular congestion migrates but still remains.

Turner suggests, “If Glendale abandons its light rail plan, $72 million paid by Glendale and other West Valley residents into the regional light rail fund will be transferred” to other light rail projects in the Valley. That is true. While Glendale chooses to opt out of light rail right that doesn’t mean that in future years Valley Metro may create other priorities in which Glendale may participate . At that time it will have access to those regional dollars.

Councilmember Turner does not mention the benefit of not establishing light rail now. Angel Rodriguez, in a Letter to the Editor in the November 2, 2017 Glendale Star asks, “The Oct. 23 article regarding the Glendale City Council killing plans for downtown light rail referred to a ‘decision 16 years after Glendale voters approved a sales tax increase, in part for light rail,’ raises the question of that part of the sales tax increase for light rail. How much of the sales tax increase starting 16 years ago was and has been set aside for that light rail that won’t happen? By now, it must be in the millions …” Approximately 40% of the sales tax collected was set aside and reserved for light rail. With the council decision not to proceed with light rail that money can be reprogrammed for other more immediate transportation needs. It can be used to enhance and increase bus service. A majority of our bus shelters are without shade. Just adding shade to these bus stops will increase ridership. The bus route along 83rd Avenue now goes from McDowell Road in Phoenix up to Bell Road in Peoria. Other routes may be able to be expanded or created.

 It can be used for intersection and street improvements. There are at least 5 intersections in Glendale in need of remediation right now. Some of those dollars could be reprogrammed to mitigate them. As another example, it can be used to connect Camelback Ranch to Westgate. Once that occurs, just as in the case of completing 95th Avenue south from Bethany Home Road to Camelback, it creates a catalyst for more businesses to locate and with it comes more jobs for Glendale’s residents. When the extension of 95th Avenue was planned and announced who came to town? IKEA with its hundreds of jobs. Those light rail transportation dollars can be reprogrammed to create enhanced connectivity between locations. With that activity comes more jobs to Glendale. City council, in a future workshop, will decide how to make the best use of the light rail dollars for other transportation needs.

Lastly, Councilmember Turner says, “Our image as the progressive future-looking city that Glendale is working hard to develop will be significantly harmed if we willingly choose to forgo this opportunity.” According to his perception, the same must be said for the other “dale” – Scottsdale. For it, too, has made the decision not to pursue light rail in its community. The four councilmembers, including me, that gave direction not to proceed with light rail at this time, in this location, do not accept his statement.

Glendale continues to be the location of choice for many businesses. Just this week, we celebrated the ground breaking for a BMW automotive franchise. BMW does extensive market research in making a decision as to where to locate another franchise. They, just as any other business looking for another location, cannot afford to make the wrong choice. They chose Glendale because of the positives Glendale offers to all new business locates. Glendale is on the move and the council decision to not move forward with light rail does not harm the amazing prospects for our future in any way, shape or form.

I understand Councilmember Turner’s frustration because the light rail decision was not the one he wanted. I’ve been there and done that. But council has made its decision and will reaffirm that decision in the form of a future Resolution to that effect. His continued advocacy for a position not supported by a majority of the city council will not change the outcome. Just as we agree to disagree, we respect his position on this issue; it’s time for him to respect our positions as well. Calling councilmembers “un-American” because of opposition to light rail does nothing to advance the issue and, in fact, is a violation of the City Council Guidelines for Conduct.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

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 belong to an online site called nextdoor.com . This site connects neighbors to neighbors within their neighborhood as well as connecting nearby neighborhoods to one another. You can post general messages, want ads, items for sale, event notices, etc. It’s a great site and I urge you to check it out.

The other day this question was posted, “Does anyone know any updates on casino? It seems like it is in a standstill with moving forward with construction.”  It was posted to 41 neighborhoods in my general area on April 26, 2017. It was as if a bomb had gone off. It generated more replies than any other issue I have seen lately. There was not only a great deal of misinformation posted but there were replies like, “Which casino sorry Glendale?”

It’s time to offer an update on the TO casino. As of today, May 6, 2017 the last Arizona District Court minute entry was posted on February 10, 2017, 3 months ago, “MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Judge David G Campbell: Telephone Conference held on 2/8/2017. Plaintiff State of Arizona request a 45 day extension of the response to 263 MOTION for Attorney Fees . Discussion held. Request granted. Response due 3/31/2017 .”

As you can see from this minute entry there are procedures and pre-trial motions that must be adjudicated (settled) before a bench trial before Judge Campbell may begin. It could be months before the case is argued before the judge. In other words, it’s at a standstill.

This case revolves around the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) attempt to get a Class III license from the State of Arizona. Until this case is settled there will be nothing but bingo (and no liquor) at the Desert Diamond Casino located on a county island in the midst of Glendale, just north of the Westgate area. The temporary casino located in the Tohono O’odham’s warehouse facility will continue as the only operation on the site. Those who have visited this casino are quick to point out that it’s not on a par with Talking Stick Casino and Resort. Factually, it will never be a Class A facility unless the TO get their Class III license. Will that occur? Only Judge Campbell will have the answer when he rules on the current case before him.

Here is the comment from a local resident who used to work at this casino, “They also want to build another one up here somewhere (on the Glendale site). I don’t remember exactly but…on the east side (of the site). I think… they are fighting for both now. When it opened they told us one year to the day we would be walking into the new one. Well that passed Dec 20th.”

This resident’s comment sparked a new round of replies, “For me it was just a crappy sneaky deal all around. As I know the facts, it was a Federal land swap. The feds didn’t ask or didn’t want to ask or didn’t care to ask what their plan was for the property and didn’t put casino restrictions on it, right across the street from the high school, and didn’t inform the local government. Everybody dropped the ball letting the tribe do whatever. I don’t know what the Grand plan and or timeframe, but if they turned the entire property into a family friendly resort with pool, water park, rides, par 3 golf, hotel, etc……. I don’t have an issue with the casino.”

Or this comment, “I’m wondering if the City of Glendale was notified. Isn’t that property within the city limits? If so??? I also wonder what land did the Fed’s swap? The issue for me is if all the tribes signed an agreement not to develop a casino in an urban area and this tribe somehow managed to have the land swapped and designated as tribal land they should not be granted a full gambling license. Just my opinion.”

I must offer a little history in answer to these comments. In 2001 the state began negotiations with all Arizona tribes to craft a gaming compact. At the same time (2001-02) the Tohono O’odham were already land shopping in urban areas of Maricopa County. They formed a shell company, Reiner, which purchased the land in Glendale. This purchase was kept secretly while the TO participated in the negotiations and paid for publicity pamphlets asking voters to approve the Gaming Act of 2002. It wasn’t until the TO publicly announced their intention in 2009 (7 years later…7 years a secret closely guarded) to build a casino on a county island within Glendale that the public or Glendale knew of their plans.

It was not a federal land swap per se. The Gila River Act of 1985 allowed the TO to purchase land in Maricopa County because the federal government had flooded their land when it built a new dam. It made the TO’s land unsustainable for agriculture. No one, except the TO, believe that it was legal to purchase land for a casino in an urban area rather than adhering to the intent of this law which was to acquire useable agricultural land to replace lands that were lost to flooding.

Glendale joined in lawsuits with virtually every Tribe in the state to fight the TO casino…until August of 2014. The city sold its soul for 30 pieces of silver. It entered into an agreement with the TO agreeing to withdraw all official opposition to the project, and would adopt a new resolution expressing support for the Tohono O’odhams’ acquisition of the property and for the casino. 

The Tohono O’odhams, in exchange, would pay for any infrastructure improvements needed in the area to accommodate the additional traffic the casino would generate. It would also give Glendale a one-time payment of $500,000, and annual payments of $1.4 million, which would increase by two percent a year.

As a Glendale city councilmember it is my obligation and duty to uphold Glendale policy. If the TO were to come to the city I have a duly sworn obligation to give them a full and fair hearing without bias. This, I would endeavor to do. On a personal level that doesn’t mean I agree with or even like this agreement.  For I do not.

Another resident comment expressed, “They won’t start building until they get a class 3 license. It is supposed to go back to court in May. The state is still fighting the casino. The state needs to give it up and let them build. They are wasting taxpayers money by fighting it.” Many feel this way but they are willing to overlook the deception and extreme breach of ethics by the TO in dealing with the state and its sister Tribes during the gambling compact negotiations and during the effort to gain voter approval for the compact in 2002. These stakeholders believe the TO lied to them by having secretly already purchased land for a casino in an urban area and that is a very difficult bridge to repair. It’s an action that is precedent setting and puts every Valley city in peril for who is to say which city will become the next host to a tribal casino?

One resident offered this link to a study on the economic impact of tribal casinos. It’s a good read:

http://www.uwyo.edu/shogren/gaming%20and%20casino%20economics.htm . Finally, I end with this resident’s comment on casinos, “Casinos are, in my opinion, a tax on people bad at math. You know who you will never see in a casino? Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Charles Koch, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerburg… or any of the other richest people in the USA. Because they understand math better than most of us.” Maybe it would help if we all got better at math.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

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.

On January 17, 2017, Jessica Boehm of the Arizona Republic did a story entitled “What is the wealthiest city in the West Valley?”  She said, “The West Valley is home to some of the fastest-growing cities in the country, according to U. S. Census data…But despite the booming population, the region lacks significant high-wage employment opportunities, often putting West Valley cities behind East Valley counterparts – like Chandler and Gilbert – with wealth indicators like household income and employment.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/southwest-valley/2017/01/17/wealthiest-city-goodyear-west-valley-census-household-income/96449470/ .

The major factor hampering the West Valley is the lack of adequate transportation corridors with enough capacity to meet not only overburdened current needs but those of the future. Just try to use I-10 from 83rd Avenue to 35th Avenue during morning or evening drive times...absolute gridlock.

 State and regional leaders have always succumbed to the political pressure applied by East Valley cities while considering the West Valley cities as the ugly stepchild. West Valley cities are outperforming all of the East Valley cities in terms of growth and it is projected to continue well into the future. It is time for state leaders to allocate resources to develop the kind of transportation system that already exists in the East Valley cities. Instead of allocating money to add yet another lane to a healthy East Valley system, the West Valley doesn’t need a token but a real resource commitment to build a transportation grid equal to that of its sister East Valley cities.

 I remember attending a meeting where Elliot Pollack, a preeminent and well respected economic data analyst in the state, said Glendale will become the geographic center of the Valley. I have never forgotten that assertion.

And yes, based upon 2014 and 2015 U. S. Census data, Goodyear with a median household income of $70,003 is the wealthiest West Valley city…for now. It is a snapshot in time and the character of any snapshot depends upon factors that change and rearrange constantly.

I did some research based upon available U.S. Census data on the 10 largest cities in Arizona. For comparison purposes I did not gather data on #2 Tucson, because it obviously, is not in Maricopa County. I also did not gather data for #7 Scottsdale or #8 Tempe because I believe these cities are unique in character.

Please note that in terms of median income #1 Phoenix; #3 Mesa and #6 Glendale all share the same general range of median household income ($46,000 to $48,000). Six cities have poverty rates of 10% or higher: Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Avondale and Buckeye. With the exception of Litchfield Park all of these cities share unemployment rates from 4.2% to 6.2%.

This is not to belittle Goodyear’s success having identified and worked to attract aerospace manufacturing and health care as its job core priorities. What will be determinate of Goodyear’s ultimate economic future is that it is currently 191.52 square miles with much of its land still waiting for development. Its current population density rate is very low, at an average of 412 persons per square mile. This is in stark contrast to Phoenix, Mesa and Glendale all having an average of 3,000 to 4,000 persons per square mile. Density of population has a way of leveling the playing field.

Glendale has its job cut out for it to make some of these numbers better than they were in 2014-15. It has been working hard and these numbers don’t reflect the growth in West Glendale of its medical/health facilities.

The numbers also do not reveal that, unlike some Valley cities, Glendale is not land-locked. Those Valley cities that are not land-locked have already, in some cases, annexed all of the land possible within their annexable borders. Glendale has another estimated 50 square miles that it can annex.

The current city council’s focus is on job creation of high-paying jobs and there is still plenty of opportunity to do exactly that. The statistics for Glendale create a road map that can be used to develop strategies to address them. While this snapshot in time was not pretty for Glendale, it has so much potential to create a brighter future. The next federal census in 2020 will, I bet, paint a picture of a much improved Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2017        

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.

%d bloggers like this: