It has been 18 years and 46 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Light rail appears to be the most divisive issue in Glendale’s history. It appears to be more divisive than the Coyotes or the casino. If you look at the mini-poll to the left of this column you will see the respondents to the question are split 50/50. There is no clear public consensus. This will be an issue that city council will have to decide. No matter which way they go it is a sure bet that half of Glendale will be unhappy with their decision. For them it is a no-win proposition. Knowing that, they are charged with making the best decision possible for the city based upon knowledge they may have not generally available to the public. No matter how individual councilmembers decide it is incumbent upon each and every one of them to publicly share their rationale for their decision.

Valley Metro hosted a Glendale light rail meeting at the Glendale Women’s Club on January 20, 2016. A lot of Glendale residents attended (at least 100) signaling that there is a great deal of interest in the issue. When 100 people or more attend a Glendale public meeting it makes the city council sit up and take notice. For an apathetic Glendale demographic that is a lot of people.

Valley Metro is planning on scheduling further community meetings to explain their recommended concept and to gain further community input. The issue is scheduled to go before the Glendale city council in late March or early April for a vote. If city council rejects the recommended alternative Valley Metro has indicated it will continue to work on an acceptable solution with Glendale.

At the Glendale city council workshop meeting of January 19, 2016 council took up most of what could be considered light weight issues. How about the Jazz Festival and chickens? Council seems to be leaning on allowing any Glendale resident to have chickens. Currently the policy is to allow the fowl in agricultural zoning districts. The state legislature has a bill before it to allow chickens anywhere in any municipality. If it should pass it will become a moot point no longer requiring a council decision. Council has called for a series of public meetings to determine whether the fowl are welcome throughout Glendale. I can see it now… Arrowhead residents flocking to obtain chickens.

Another pressing issue of relative non-importance was council discussion of bringing back the Jazz Festival. It was cut out of the budget about 4 years ago when council was looking to pare down the budget and it learned that of all of the major festivals Glendale hosts; it was the one with the least attendance. It will cost a little over $200,000 to produce and earns about $60,000 in revenue to offset its costs. In terms of priorities and how $140,000 (net expense) could be used this doesn’t constitute a major priority. Perhaps that $140,000 could be used to restore some library hours or reinstitute some recreational programs for Glendale’s children. Surely there is a better use for the funds.

It appears that Chavira and Aldama are ready to jump into the festival business big time. In anticipation of council’s approval of the Jazz Festival resurrection Chavira and Aldama have taken it upon themselves to seek out sponsors for the event. Be wary. Remember Chavira’s and Aldama’s last festival fling? Dia de Muertos? Each contributed $2500 of their council budgets (taxpayer money) to support the event which turned out to be highly political by allowing various Democrat candidates to have booths at the event…a real no-no. To this day there has never been an audit of the event even though there have been repeated requests for it.

Add to that peccadillo Chavira’s involvement in a Hispanic Firefighters Association event that ended up costing said association a lot of money resulting in a move to boot Chavira from the organization. City Council should develop policy guidelines to address councilmember involvement in the city’s event business.

Lastly council, quickly and without a smidgeon of discussion, nominated Cactus Councilmember Ian Hugh to another term as Glendale’s Vice Mayor. He was unanimously approved by council at its last formal meeting of January 26, 2016. Congratulations to Vice Mayor Hugh. He’s quiet and steady and will continue to serve well as Glendale’s Vice Mayor in 2016.

It was a far different scenario from last year when Chavira and Aldama backed the now recalled councilmember Gary Sherwood for the position. It demonstrates how quickly political dynamics can change. From a gang of three there is now a gang of two: Chavira and Aldama. The two are leaderless and now constitute a minority…an uncomfortable position for both of them. It shows the enormous amount of influence Sherwood had over his two buddies.

© Joyce Clark, 2016


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