On the December 3, 2013 city council workshop there were 6 topics. This was not one of council’s short, one-hour, “whizz bang, thank you ma’am” kind of meetings. It seems whenever there is discussion related personally to council the discussion is intense and prolonged.

Let’s take a look at each one. First up was the issue of 2 hour downtown parking. Someone had complained to Mayor Weiers and so it surfaced as a Council Item of Special Interest. Since the parking restriction was not being enforced there was a question of keeping the signage up. Councilmembers Martinez, Knaack and Sherwood felt there was no problem but supported Weiers, Hugh and Chavira in their request to survey the downtown merchants about the issue. So there will be a second installment on this issue after the survey is completed.

Next item was the city suite policy and its use. This item was requested for discussion by Vice Mayor Knaack who explained that she wanted to disabuse the public of the notion that council had free and unfettered access to the city suites at Jobing.com arena and Camelback Ranch. This notion is widely held when the public sees Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Sherwood often and regularly in the city Jobing.com arena suite. The policy as I remember it allowed for 2 uses: for non-profit use and for city business use (economic development). Apparently there is now a third use allowing for city council city business.  Council finished by directing staff to make more use of the suites as a reward to city volunteers. A good idea. Sources have said that Interim Assistant City Manager Frisoni was able to rent the Jobing.com arena suite in the past for her daughter’s birthday party. If that did occur it most certainly violated stated city policy. Hmmmm…

The third item was allowing citizens to donate a greater amount monthly to the From the Heart Donation program — another Mayor Weiers topic. After much discussion council gave direction to increase the donation option from $1 a month to $2 a month on citizen utility bills. The thinking was that it would double the amount received monthly for the program. Maybe, maybe not. When the price is increased on anything the number of purchasers usually decreases. Let’s see how this works out.

Undoubtedly the hottest topic was the discussion of council budgets. Vice Mayor Knaack requested this item and made the point that she did not think the use of council funds (read your taxpayer dollars) should be given from councilmember budgets to non-profits.  Martinez and Sherwood agreed but it raised Councilmember Alvarez’ blood pressure by at least 100 points. She had been silent on all previous items and did not wake up until this topic came forward. Then she was off and running!

She made sure she cited every past transgression from Knaack benefiting from the city’s VIP (Visual Improvement Program) for businesses to the city’s decision to enter into the $15 million dollar a year management agreement with IceArizona to the absence of recreation programming for kids. She made sure she recited every past sin. She made clear she would not go along with any prohibition council might create regarding council budget donations to non-profits. Hugh and Chavira stood fast with her.

Councilmember Martinez, joined by Vice Mayor Knaack, once again asked that councilmembers reduce their discretionary and infrastructure budgets so that the funds could go back into the General Fund. There is no doubt that Martinez, Knaack and former Vice Mayor Steve Frate believed strongly in doing so. Here is the past history on council budget reductions;

  • Barrel district (Knaack)      reduction of $26,571 and district improvements of $197
  • Sahuaro district (Frate)      reduction of $24,729 and district improvements of $4,965
  • Cholla district (Martinez)    reduction of $23,796 and district improvements of $2,998
  • Cactus district (Lieberman) reduction of $2,563 and district improvements of $500
  • Yucca district (Clark)          reduction of $1,188 and district improvements of $15,445
  • Ocotillo district (Alvarez)    reduction of $0 and district improvements of $9,545 

Donations to non-profit/school districts:

  • Ocotillo district (Alvarez)              $22,134
  • Cactus district (Hugh)                  $11,849
  • Yucca district (Chavira)                $  8,000
  • Cholla district (Martinez)              $  1,000
  • Barrel district (Knaack)                $     609
  • Sahuaro (Sherwood)                    $     419

You can see from the figures above there are two competing philosophies regarding the spending of council budgets. There being no consensus on anything related to how they spend your taxpayer dollars there was no direction given and things will stay just as they are.

The next item was a topic generated by Councilmember Sherwood. Currently all councilmembers can offer a Council Item of Special Interest without having to get 3 other councilmembers to agree to the topic. Sherwood wanted to go back in time and reuse the policy that required 3 other councilmembers to support any Item of Special Interest. As he said, “It was better to have staff work with ‘real’ issues” and he summarily dismissed the value of any Item of Special Interest brought forward by a councilmember. His suggestion went over like a lead balloon and he received no council support for his latest idea.

The last item was city generated and was a presentation on the proposed financial policy on transfers. After the presentation by Tom Duensing, the new Director of Financial Services, he was thanked profusely (especially by Chavira who has become quite adept at thanking everybody for everything) but there was nary a question. The longest part of this item was the presentation by Duensing.

On another unrelated issue, lately there has been a fire storm of public discussion on the siting of billboards in the Arrowhead area adjacent to the Loop 101. I bring this up not to take a position on the issue but because of something I read recently. A Cholla citizen reacting to the billboards said, “How ghetto could that be, to put up signs like that?” This is not an aberration but the typical attitude exhibited by Arrowhead folk. So, billboards are ghetto-izing? It’s OK for billboards to be placed in the rest of Glendale along with pawn shops, loan stores, massive apartment complexes and liquor stores? I’m surprised that Arrowhead has not ceded from the city. It must be embarrassing for Arrowhead people to have to say they live in Glendale with all of its ghettos.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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