Yesterday, February 12, 2015 Glendale City Manager Brenda Fischer submitted her resignation. What happens now? Fischer and the city council will meet in Executive Session to negotiate a mutually agreeable date for her departure. City Council will then appoint an Acting City Manager while a search is done for a replacement.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? A cut and dried process but when politics are involved things are never quite that simple. The city council is split with Hugh-Turner-Tolmachoff vs. Sherwood-Chavira-Aldama. Mayor Weiers is the deciding vote. There is a dearth of talent at city hall these days with many able administrators either having left or having been forced out. Why not think outside the proverbial box? Why not borrow a talented administrator from another Valley community? Glendale has done it before when it asked Dick Bowers, former Scottsdale City Manager, to assume the role of Acting City Manager. The first name that comes to mind is Charlie McClendon, former City Manager of Avondale. Charlie worked for Glendale many years ago, possesses Glendale historical memory and has an outstanding record as Avondale’s City Manager. I was gently reminded that Charlie is now in Cathedral City, California. Despite that I would still consider him.

Don’t expect council to appoint either Assistant City Managers Jennifer Campbell or Julie Frisoni as Acting City Manager. Rumor has it that Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni may not be around much longer now that she has lost her protector and mentor, Fischer. The city Finance Director, Tom Duensing’s and the city Attorney, Michael Bailey’s, names are floating out there as possible choices for Acting City Manager. Each has baggage and is identified as part of the Fischer “team.”

Many were surprised to learn of Fischer’s resignation. They should not have been. Take a look at her work history. She worked in Henderson and North Las Vegas, Nevada for about 15 years primarily in media relations but not as a City Manager. When she rose to greater positions of authority as a Deputy City Manager in Glendora, California and City Manager in Maricopa, Arizona it appears that she never remained in those positions for more than 2 years.

An April 11, 2011 post was discovered commenting on her leaving Glendora from someone called “Mother-In-Law” (Brenda’s mother-in-law? Who knows?) saying, “Brenda and I talked about her problems with certain officals (sic) or a (sic) least that’s what they call themselves that, we concluded it was a dead end job in Glendora, Ca. city hall.” Fischer left after 2 years. In Maricopa, Arizona, Fischer initiated an investigation for alleged harassment against a Maricopa councilmember and left that employment within 2 years.

Issues seem to arise when she is employed in an upper management position. Will that be the case in Glendale?  As reported by Darrell Jackson in the Glendale Star of February 12, 2015 Fischer made a FOIA for all of the emails of three councilmembers: Hugh, Turner and Tolmachoff from November 5, 2014 to February 10, 2015. This is highly outrageous and exceedingly unusual. Fischer serves at the pleasure of the city council. She is appointed by them. Requesting the emails of one’s employers may have been the last straw. That should have been enough of a reason to cause her firing.

There appears to have been a slew of other “last straws” lately. Her performance as a leader of the City of Glendale was lacking when she displayed a temper tantrum at the CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce publicly at the Yard House restaurant. She bears the responsibility for the “Library War” debacle. Even if she did not initiate the idea (the jury is still out) of a proposed sale of the library, she allowed it to move forward. Councilmember Gary Sherwood was largely responsible for her hire. He inserted himself into the hiring process by meeting privately with her and advocating for her at a council workshop. His current problems with an ongoing AG’s investigation about alleged Open Meeting Law violations and a renewed effort to recall him may have created difficulties for her.

Did she find something within her email request that spooked her or did council learn that she was looking for something to use against them? After all, she appears to have only requested emails from the three councilmembers she perceived as her enemies. Her annual performance review would have been in a few months. Was she concerned that she would be fired? Did Mayor Weiers drop a hint that he had the four votes necessary to cause her firing? Did she decide that resignation was face saving as opposed to firing?

This is a story unfinished. There is more to discover. You can bet that the media will continue to pursue the real reason for Fischer’s sudden but not surprising resignation.

© Joyce Clark, 2015


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