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         


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