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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.

The state legislature seems to have a love/hate relationship with every city in the state. Here are some of the more egregious examples. One is the state’s diminishment of the cities’ ability to collect Impact Fees; another is the state usurpation of every city’s ability to collect sales tax; and lastly the state’s reduction in the distribution amount of Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) it is required to share with every city in the state.

In 2011, the Arizona legislature passed Senate Bill 1525. This bill restricts cities’ ability to collect Impact Fees from the development community. This diminishes the amount of money needed for libraries, community parks, streets and infrastructure, open space and trails.

So what, what do you care? Well, you should care because the restrictions on the collection of Impact Fees don’t mean that these things are not built. They still are…only now; you the taxpayer are paying for new growth in your town or city.

How does it impact you? It used to be in this state the mandate was “growth should pay for growth.” That no longer applies. Here’s a hypothetical. A developer wants to build a subdivision of 250 new homes on the periphery of your city. That developer would have to pay a set Impact Fee per house to help cover the cost of infrastructure to support and provide services to the new subdivision. Perhaps the arterial street abutting the subdivision would now require widening to accommodate the new traffic from the subdivision. Or perhaps the nearest fire station or library was pretty far away requiring a new fire station or library.  The Impact Fee charged by the city would help to defray the cost of widening the street or putting in a new fire station or library. The Development Impact Fee cost to the developer is added onto the price of each new home. The developer might raise the price of the new home by a $1,000 or $2,000. That money would go into the city’s accounts to help pay for the new infrastructure causing new growth to help pay for itself.

What happens when the Impact Fees have been reduced or eliminated by the state legislature? The city still needs to widen that street or to build that fire station or library. Where will the money come from? Why, the taxes you pay, of course. Now you are paying for that new growth.

There is one case when the loss of Impact Fees is not as detrimental to a city or town and that is with Infill Development. With Infill Development a developer takes a piece of land within an established area of a city and builds maybe 30 or 50 new homes on it. That land has been vacant for years but already has an adequate arterial street and a nearby fire station or library. There is no need to build new infrastructure. In that case the Development Impact Fees are used for any needed expansion of nearby infrastructure.

Yet in its heavy-handed way, the state legislature makes no distinction on the imposition of Impact Fees between an Infill Development in an established area of a city and new development that is sited where there is no city infrastructure. Why has this happened? Because the pro-development lobby is the 900 lb. gorilla with deep pockets that contributes to every state legislator’s election campaign (if the legislator is on the ‘right’ side of the issue). Taxpayers have no such lobby and therefore in a battle between the pro-development lobby and the taxpayer, guess who wins?

Another example of the heavy handedness of the state legislature is the mandate passed in 2016 requiring all cities and counties sales taxes to be collected by the state by January of 2017. To add further insult to this injury, cities must pay the state to collect sales tax…they must now pay the state to do what they did for a hundred years. Glendale paid over $650,000 this fiscal year to the state to pay for what it had collected on its own previously.

To make matters worse, in an audit of the state Department of Revenue released in June of this year it was revealed that the state does a lousy job of collecting sales tax. The department simply missed identifying businesses and erased a bunch of active businesses that were paying their taxes. After the department took over collection from the cities at one point just stopped checking to see whether all businesses were even licensed.

Cities are now forced to retain their employees that check payment of business sales tax. In other words cities have to double check the work of the state department to insure that not only the tax is being paid but that it is a correct amount. So much for a better state ‘mouse trap’.

Why would the state take over sales tax collection? The state says it’s in the name of efficiency and simplicity for businesses paying sales tax. If a business does business in more than one city, it has to file a sales tax return in each city monthly. Now the business, no matter where or in how many jurisdictions it does business sends all sales tax collected to the state who then distributes it to the appropriate jurisdiction.

But there could be another reason. When cities collected the sales tax they would send the state’s portion to the state in a day or two or perhaps even in a week. While the cities hold the sales tax funds the cities are collecting interest on that money. Obviously the amount of sales tax collected monthly is enormous. With the state collecting the sales tax, it puts the proceeds in an interest bearing account and now the state is receiving the interest until it remits the proper amount to each jurisdiction.  Now the state earns the interest on the funds it collects until it disburses it to the jurisdictions.

Some of the money every taxpayer pays to the state is known as state shared revenue. One is the Highway User Revenue Fund (the tax you pay on each gallon of gasoline and is known by the acronym HURF). There is a formula that dictates a portion of HURF must be distributed to cities based upon their population. When the Great Recession occurred the state unilaterally slashed the amount of HURF state shared revenue it distributed to each and every city to help cover the state’s shortfall in its budget. While that was a great move to keep the state budget whole, it hurt every city that relied upon HURF dollars for part of the revenue for their budgets during that same recession. The state is only now beginning to share all of the state shared revenue amounts with cities that it is mandated to do.

It often appears to city leaders that the state will favor the interests of their business or pro-development friends over those of cities. Often that means that you, the individual, pays for the state’s decisions that favor interests other than yours.  The state continues to demonstrate over the years that it is not always fiscally friendly to the city in which you reside.

© 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 blog with no attribution of authorship or sponsorship has surfaced again. It refers to an audit issued on March 21, 2019 performed by the former City Auditor, Candace MacLeod. It appears Ms.MacLeod’s intent was to get this audit publicized three months before her position was riffed on July 1, 2019. She seemed to know that her position with the city was in jeopardy and this audit is presented in such a way that it seems to be payback.

Once again, dear reader, it’s time for another Glendale history flashback. When former City Manager Dr. Martin Vanacour retired, Ed Beasley became the City Manager of Glendale and retained the position until 2012 when the news media exploded with the scandals of the juicy consultancy pay Beasley authorized for the former City Finance Director Art Lynch as well as Beasley’s authorization allowing Alma Carmichel, former HR Director, to commute telephonically from Mississippi.

With Beasley’s departure, two city factions arose. One faction supported appointing former City Attorney Craig Tindall as the Interim City Manager. The other faction supported appointing Horatio Skeete to the position. After the blood had dried, in June of 2012, Mr. Skeete was appointed Interim City Manager. He remained until Brenda Fischer was hired as the new City Manager in June of 2013. She lasted less than 2 years and almost brought the city to its knees, fiscally and internally. In 2015, after Ms. Fischer’s departure the former Scottsdale City Manager, Dick Bowers, in retirement, was appointed as Interim City Manager during the search for a new permanent City Manager. In 2016, the current City Manager, Kevin Phelps, was hired and he remains City Manager to this day.

Why all the history on City Managers? Because they play a role in the city auditor saga. When Beasley reigned, and he did indeed reign, there was silent and tacit recognition that he had an ‘inner circle’. Many believed this inner circle (all now gone) included:

  • Art Lynch, former City Finance Director and subsequent financial consultant to the city
  • Mark Burdick, former Fire Chief and former mayoral candidate (perceived as a fire union advocate)
  • Julie Frisoni, former Marketing & Communications Director and then a former Assistant City Manager appointed by former City Manager Brenda Fischer
  • Craig Tindall, former City Attorney and subsequent (albeit simultaneously) legal counsel for the Coyotes
  • Candace MacLeod, former City Auditor

One would assume that people in these senior positions would be the epitome of ethical behavior by adhering to strict neutrality and serving all within the city equally. It now appears that was not the case. For example, when Tindall and Skeete sought the Interim City Manager’s position, several of those identified above actively lobbied the councilmembers for Tindall’s appointment. I know because I was lobbied and was asked to support Tindall. I was not approached by anyone on Skeete’s behalf.  I also know of their political bias because I was ‘sandbagged’ by some members of this inner circle during my 2012 election (but that’s for a future blog).

A city auditor is required to be ethically neutral. Yet her past actions seem to belie that neutrality as demonstrated by her support of Mr. Tindall’s quest for the Interim City Manager’s position.  Her present activities also seem to belie neutrality. Since I returned to city council in 2017, she seemed to perform audits the production of which appeared to be deliberately designed to diminish the work of City Manager Phelps and senior management.

In addition, Ms. MacLeod is a Canadian who had been working with a green card as the City of Glendale City Auditor for about the past dozen years. The first question to arise, Was there no qualified American citizen who could do this job?

A succession of city managers appeared unconcerned about the former auditor’s perceived bias, political activity or job performance because she was on the right side, seemingly their side.  

What does all of this have to do with the blog in question? It’s a trashy, hit piece aimed squarely at the current City Manager and the motive seems to be because the City Auditor’s position had been in jeopardy for several years and there was consideration of replacing the position with an audit committee. Apparently Ms. MacLeod may have thought of this (and another audit she performed) as an insurance policy.

It also takes another swipe at the mayor’s late reimbursement of his spouse’s expenses on a Sister Cities trip. The audit fails to acknowledge the mayor’s misinterpretation of reimbursement polices corrected after the City Attorney’s guidance was sought.

MacLeod’s audit covered from June 14, 2018 to September 13, 2108. Sloppy and inadequate Pro Card practices had been going on for many years, under the administrations of Beasley, Skeete, and Fischer. Pro Card use was never addressed as an audit in the 10 years previous.

The writer(s) of this wacky blog were selective in what was chosen to share about the audit. There is no mention that 90 cardholder statements (22%) out of 392 cardholders were selected for review. While eagerly relating the statistics of failed practices, it neglects to mention the conclusion of the audit. The City Manager and all departments concurred with every recommendation (except one by the Budget and Finance Department regarding interpretation of standards) and those recommendations were implemented in late 2018 or mid- 2019, under the current City Manager’s watch.  

A timeline of six months to a year to adopt best practices does not give me any cause for concern as I have expressed repeatedly that city governments are slow to react. I’ve used the analogy of turning a battleship around…it’s slow, deliberate and careful.  Since the blog failed to share the responses of management, here is the list of recommendations provided in the auditor’s report and management’s concurrence: Audit Appendix A

It is obvious that the blog is selective in what it chooses to use. Why? It is also becoming obvious that it will be used to sway voters in the upcoming 2020 election for elected officials in Glendale. You should treat it as such. Make no mistake, it will advocate for their selected candidates and work to diminish their chosen candidates’ opponents.

It takes money to publish on the internet if for nothing else, for domain registration and a web hosting company. Without knowing who is behind this effort it’s fair to consider this a ‘dark money’ effort. It will never achieve legitimacy until those who are behind the effort are unmasked. Nothing remains a secret for very long. It’s only a matter of time until the identities of those behind this effort are exposed. Then we will know their biases and will consider their effort in that context.

In the meantime we can wonder what garbage will be offered next…but is it worth our time? I think not. Only cowards or those who would be embarrassed to be revealed because of their biases would write stuff like this. Anyone who takes liberties with and shades the truth cannot be trusted. Remember, unattributed hit pieces like this are only fit to be used as a puppy poo training aid.

© 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.

 Many people assume the most powerful person in local government is the Mayor. Unless it’s a ‘strong mayor’ form of government, that isn’t so. I contend the city manager is the most powerful person in local government. This debate has existed as long as local government has existed. Over the years many U.S. cities have done 360s reversing their government structures to a strong mayor form of government and then back to a manager/council form. Neither satisfies completely.

What are the powers and responsibilities of a city manager? Generally, he or she coordinates and oversees the activities of all city departments, provides direct staff assistance to city council members, including the mayor, and council committees. His/her staff leads the financial and budget management process for a city and directs its planning and economic development efforts. His/her staff also conducts research, develops policies, and evaluates potential public programs.  He/she deals with all personnel issues exclusively including the hiring and firing of personnel.  More often than not, councils accept and act on his/her recommendations. What he/she and staff do behind the scenes has a very real impact on the policies and direction of a city.

In Glendale the city charter states in Section 2-53 (a), “Pursuant to article III, section 3 of the Glendale City Charter, the city manager is the chief executive officer of the city and shall have all authority and powers, not inconsistent with the city Charter, to manage and administer the affairs of the city. The city manager, as he or she deems appropriate, may delegate and assign duties and responsibilities to the administrative officials, department heads and employees of the city.”

Under Section 3 of the city charter, the city manager’s role is more specifically defined, “The city manager shall be chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch of the city government. He shall be responsible for the proper administration of all affairs of the city and to that end, subject to the provisions of this charter, he shall have the power (bold is mine) and shall be required to:

(1)

Devote his entire time to the discharge of his official duties, attend all meetings of the council unless excused there from by the council or the mayor;

(2)

See that all ordinances are enforced and that the provisions of all franchises, leases, contracts, permits and privileges granted by the city are observed;

(3)

Appoint, and when deemed necessary for the good of the service, lay-off, suspend, transfer, demote or remove all department heads, officers and employees of the city, subject to such merit system regulations as the council may adopt;

(4)

Prepare the annual budget estimates and submit them to the council and be responsible for the administration of the budget after adoption;

(5)

Keep the council advised at all times of the affairs and needs of the city, and make reports annually, or more frequently if requested by the council, of all the affairs of the city;

(6)

Repealed (3-16-76);

(7)

Have such other powers, duties and functions as this charter may prescribe, and such powers, duties and functions consistent with this charter as the council may prescribe.”

As can be noted, the city charter goes into rather specific detail about a city manager’s role and responsibilities. That is not the case for the city council. The charter broadly states in Article II, Section I, “All powers of the city, not in conflict with the constitution and subject to the limitations of this charter, shall be vested in the council, who shall enact appropriate legislation and do and perform any and all acts and things which may be necessary and proper to carry out these powers or any of the provisions of this charter.”Generally, a city council oversees local policy decisions, reviews and approves the city budgets and appoints a professional city manager (as well as the City Attorney and City Clerk) to handle administrative tasks on a day-to-day basis.

In Glendale as with all other cities money is power. In other words, a city’s budget is where the power resides. Based upon that premise is the City Manager the most powerful person in a city? I say ‘yes’. The City Manager reviews and approves all budget items that are presented to a city council. He/she reviews and recommends to city council any increase in the number of employees and where those new employees will work. He/she reviews and recommends all departmental supplemental requests for additional funding that are presented to a city council.  A city council does not see any supplemental requests until after they are reviewed and approved by the City Manager. He/she, by virtue of departmental line item recommendations to a city council, determines the direction and the priorities of the city for the upcoming Fiscal Year.

 A city council is never presented a raw budget that offers options for the direction of placement of new revenue. Quite frankly, there is continual pressure by city councils to get more of the raw data from which budgetary decisions are made. It’s the silent, often unrecognized by the public, power struggle that occurs every year prior to a city’s formal Fiscal Year budget adoption.

What some City Managers and senior staff rely upon is the lack of a committed majority of opinion on any city council. Without a clear majority of council, that council cannot give direction to a City Manager. Sometimes it is easy to pick off councilmembers by doing what are commonly called “walk-arounds.” That is a practice where city staff talks individually to councilmembers making the case for or against an issue. Obviously, you can see how this practice could be used to work in favor of senior staff. They can make an argument for or against any issue or initiative virtually guaranteeing the outcome they desire.

In addition, many councilmembers have not been educated on the scope of their authority. Many city councilmembers do not realize that there is, indeed, power in numbers and that they have the absolute authority to shape policy and therefore the priorities and direction of the city requiring that funding be used to accomplish those identified priorities. City Councils are the 400 lb. gorilla in the room but often they don’t know it or they remain divided with the inability to create the majority needed to craft direction for the City Manager or senior staff. The only ones to blame for a City Manager’s absolute power are city councils themselves. So until city councilmembers unite the most powerful person in a city will continue to be the City Manager.

© 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.

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Fireworks: We are two days away from Independence Day, July 4th. It’s a time to celebrate the greatness of America. This is the only country in the world that people will lie, cheat, steal and fight to enter so we must be doing something right.  Fireworks are a tradition but abuse of their use is becoming more and more prevalent. Did you know that shooting any fireworks into the air is illegal in Glendale? Here’s another interesting piece of trivia. Consumer Reports states that 31% of all July 4th emergency room visits are injuries to a hand or finger. If you are not worried about losing these appendages shoot off those fireworks, by all means…but not in the air.

I will be at Westgate representing Glendale and leading the countdown to the kick-off of the fireworks. Please join me in our nation’s day of celebration.

Do you have pets that you generally keep outside? You had better bring them in or risk them taking off in a panic and ending up lost or at the pound as those fireworks go off all around your house. Our German Shepard, 10 years old, absolutely goes nuts and is scared to death when those fireworks go off. We are now well trained and automatically put her in the house from about 6 pm until the next morning.

Our Pond: I haven’t written about our pond in awhile. It’s hard to believe but it is over 8 years old and certainly is a ‘mature’ pond. I’ve included some photos of our filter systems and what the pond looks like today.

Looking down into the filter box you can see the rigid hosing that leads to the two major filter pumps…one for the large waterfall and one for the small waterfall. Another photo shows the filter media. The green pad is a major component. It can be fine to very coarse. We use a medium value. These pads also serve the filters at the top of each waterfall. The net goes in front of the green filter media and collects very coarse material such as decaying lily pads. The white grate is something we started to do a very long time ago as it prevented small fish and the tiny Gambusia (mosquito fish) from being pulled into the filter system which has a strong pull.

This photo shows the pond as it looks today. The vegetation in and around the pond is mature and generally only requires pruning. The photo of the fish shows one of my favorite Koi. The Koi with the red spot on its forehead is called a Tancho by the Japanese. The rounder the red spot the better.

The blue barrel contraption is of our own making. After a year or two, we realized the two main filters were not adequate, especially in dealing with algae in the summer so we devised our own system. Each blue barrel has a different filter media in it. The water travels from one barrel to another, past a UV light and then into the pond. Using this in conjunction with our main filters has solved the problem and algae are kept to a minimum.

It’s finally officially hot but no monsoon yet. According to weather forecasters, the high pressure ridge sitting over us has to move farther north, around the four corners area. That has not occurred yet because the jet stream is too far south and is blocking the heat ridge from moving north. We can still expect the monsoon but perhaps a little later than normal. I remember previous July 4ths as not only hot but humid as well…not this year.

Look for the grand opening of the Aloft Hotel this month. It becomes the latest addition to Glendale’s inventory of hotel rooms in the Westgate area. There are four more hotels either already under construction or in the planning stages. Before the next Super Bowl in Glendale the city will have a minimum of 2,000 rooms to accommodate visitors. Also look for the development of more office space in the Yucca district. Glendale currently has no inventory of office space so the city has prioritized more development of that kind of space as a goal. Ballpark Boulevard, designed to connect Camelback Ranch to Westgate is now under construction and will be completed next year. This will open the undeveloped land between 99th Avenue  and Camelback Ranch for development. The property owners of the land along the new extension of Ballpark Boulevard are currently designing a master plan for that area.

When will Bethany Home Road be extended between 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue? That is up to the developers, Pulte Homes and the John F. Long Trust. Apparently, they not happy that the city, after seven or so years, has raised its Development Impact Fee rates. They want the city to mitigate the increase in fees. I don’t think that’s going to happen so it might be awhile before we see Bethany Home Road punch through. That’s OK with me and many of the Yucca district residents. The minute that stretch of Bethany is completed the traffic along 83rd Avenue will explode.

Do you have a subject or topic about Glendale and want more information? Is there a topic you would like to see a blog about? Just make a comment on this blog or send me an email at: clarkjv@aol.com .

© 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.

City Council vacates all activities during the July of each year. Whether you love my blogs or hate them, this break time provides me the opportunity to write a series of them. This one deals with an age old problem, that of new development versus older neighborhoods.

I happened to run across this story in the local Glendale Republic. Here’s the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/surprise/2019/06/22/surprise-grows-quickly-residents-question-if-its-growing-right-way/1491785001/ .

It’s about a couple who bought a large lot home on at least an acre in the desert area of Surprise only to discover in the coming years they will be swallowed up and surrounded by a possible total of 4,130 residential units with an average of about four homes per acre. Add to those homes new businesses along 163rd Avenue creating a new urban center and their dream and their investment evaporates.

I would hope the City of Surprise would be sensitive to their life style as it allows new development to surround them. It can be done with what planners call “transitional” development. Under that scheme the development surrounding them would be large lots of 1 acre or better and as development moves farther away from them it becomes denser. It’s not ideal as far as this couple is concerned but it employs a certain amount of sensitivity. After all, they and their neighbors were there first.

It also brings up another issue for which cities should be mindful. All of those new homes and new residents are great. After all, it will increase the amount of state shared revenue that flows into their coffers. However, a stunning fact to remember and I am using Glendale as an example, is that it cost the City of Glendale $973 to provide services to each and every resident. That figure includes public safety which comprises the lion’s share of any city’s budget. For a family of two in a home that comes to $1946. Yet each home (not citizen) generates approximately $400 in property tax and sales tax to offset the city’s costs of services. The imbalance is readily apparent. A city is ahead when it allows development of commercial, industrial and manufacturing.  That type of development does not typically use city services to the extent of a home and they are job generators.

Another type of development that requires sensitivity is that of new infill development. Infill development should not only compliment but should raise the value of older neighborhoods. Sticking a bunch of apartments whether they are the traditional multi-story or single story “Built for Rent” units in the middle of existent residential areas is a recipe for disaster. Multifamily dwellers, as nice as they may be, are not usually invested in the community in which they reside. On average they move every three years. That dynamic does not offer stability to the residential neighborhoods adjacent to such a complex or to the fabric of community as a whole in terms of public participation.

When multifamily units are new they hold their value as the developer/investor seeks to recoup the original investment and turn a profit. But there are no guarantees in life and there is certainly no guarantee as to how long the original owner will hold that investment. At some point there will be sale and now begins the inevitable slide into decline. The new owner may not be as assiduous about keeping the property up while profiting. Little things are not attended to and then the bigger things are not taken care of.  Over time it becomes an underperforming property that diminishes adjacent property values even further.

There are places in a city for multi-family and that is where density and mass will complement existing retail and commercial development. A good example where density is positive is in and around Westgate. With Westgate’s nearly two dozen restaurants, Tanger Outlets for shopping and sports entertainment choices of hockey and football, density is important in terms of providing a consumer base. Another scenario can be in an area of all new mixed use development that establishes new single family and multifamily neighborhoods served by new retail and commercial. A purchaser of a home in that kind of area is already aware that multifamily will be part of the mix.

Cities have a responsibility to their current residents to be sensitive in the placement of new or infill development. Diminishing the property values of one part of the community to accommodate the bright, shiny new development that may not be appropriate for the existent area does a disservice to the very fabric of the community they seek to create.

As the couple in Surprise said about their home in the middle of nowhere, “We thought we had really found something.”  Let’s be careful as a home owner who had moved into a neighborhood years ago and thought they had really found something special becomes threatened by adjacent, incompatible development.

 

© 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.

This week an anonymous blog about Glendale surfaced claiming to provide “independent oversight.” It’s no more than an anonymous hit piece whose only use is to line the bottom of bird cages.

Let’s compare blogs. Mine has been up for six years and has nearly reached the half million mark of readers. You know who I am and what I do. When I started the blog in 2013, I had been defeated for reelection as councilmember. Four years later in 2017 I returned to city council. I have never made a secret of my biases. Sometimes I write an explanatory blog; sometimes I compliment someone or some initiative; and sometimes I go after an issue or a person. I have a track record and you know where I am coming from. I liberally use quotes with attribution to the author, publication and date. I use a lot of data and facts and often provide a link to or republish within my blog a copy of the material from which my citations are made.

The blog in question is anonymous, and the initial piece is written by “admin.” Now, who the heck is that? If he/she or they are so proud of their work why not disclose who the author(s) is or what group or person has initiated this blog? Anonymity is a sign of cowardice. For if you knew who the writer or group is you would know their biases. How can one be “independent” when his/her or their identity could reveal obvious biases?

As I have stated previously we are already in an election season. These days it seems a new season starts as soon as an election is over. This writer is obviously slanted toward defaming Glendale’s current mayor, up for reelection. Expect that there will be hit pieces on the city council candidates up for reelection in 2020.

I and others have some assumptions. Since the piece was written in defense of soon-to-be (as of July 1, 2019) former City Auditor Candace MacLeod many people are assuming that her city cronies may be behind this. That could include the most visible and notorious members of that group such as former Fire Chief Mark Burdick and former (very briefly) Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni. If you remember, former Chief Burdick ran against incumbent Mayor Weiers in 2016.

There is also the assumption that at least one unhappy and disgruntled Glendale councilmember is feeding information to this anonymous person(s) or group. The reason for this particular assumption is that there is reference to 7 current, open positions on city boards and commissions. All of council is aware of the openings as we are periodically provided a list but it is not a fact that would be common knowledge. So who offered this seemingly insignificant detail to our anonymous writer(s) or group?

The writer(s) uses no quotes from any sources and quite frankly, misstates the essence of much of the unsupported material used. It would also help if the writer(s) were factually accurate. The writer(s) states that our current City Manager was “(hired Feb 1st 2015 to date).”  Actually the Arizona Republic reports that the City Manager was hired in November of 2015. If the writer gets a simple fact such as this wrong, what else is wrong? Actually nearly everything but I simply don’t want to waste my time listing every inaccuracy or outright lie. There is so much that is exaggeration and misrepresentation of fact leading to incorrect conclusions that it would take a small book to identify everything. Now that’s a true waste of time.

While the writer(s) is at it, a simple spell check seems to be necessary. There are misspelled words such as “procurrment” (correct spelling is procurement) and “Manger” (correct spelling is  Manager). I guess the writer(s) doesn’t see any value in spell check…so sad.

So, it is a piece of writing with inaccurate and misleading information and misspelled words… written anonymously. Under those standards it’s not even worthy of lining a bird cage. Perhaps it’s more fitting to use it as a puppy training aid as the stench coming from it would certainly encourage any puppy to use it.

© 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.

What is a BFR?  It stands for “Built for Rent” and is the current ‘flavor of the year’ in the building community. It is a community of single family rentals between 100 and 250 units.  That number of units is required to make it a viable project. Usually three or four different floor plans are available. The amenities vary by community and builder.

 Here are some photos of one such community under construction by Hancock Builders on the west side of 99th Avenue, just north of Camelback Road in Phoenix. . Hancock has already built 1,300 of the single family rental homes with 4,000 more in the development pipeline spread across 10 communities.

 

The builders producing these communities have similar business models. They build the communities themselves and then turn maintenance over to a third-party property manager with experience in multifamily. After the community is fully leased and operational, the builders have the option to sell individual houses within the community or sell the entire community itself to a high-net-worth individual, a multifamily real estate investment trust (REIT), or a single-family rental (SFR) operator like Invitation Homes or American Homes 4 Rent.

Ideally they are designed to be located where there is mass transportation and nearby amenities available such as in a Westgate or Zanjero. A BFR within or very near the Westgate/Zanjero developments is appropriate. But it is not appropriate in an area farther away from commercial/retail/entertainment areas and instead is surrounded by a sea of residential, owner occupied properties. The location at 75th Avenue and Bethany Home Road is not appropriate with the kind of density a project such as this brings.

Yet that is the request of Gammage & Burnham, attorneys representing the proposed developer, Elux and the Brown Group, is desiring to put a BFR community at the northeast corner of 75th Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Since 1984 the property has had a zoning designation of R 1-6 (residential, one to six homes to the acre).

 

Let’s look at what surrounds this parcel. To the east and south is R 1-6 zoning with established neighborhoods. To the west, just across 75th Avenue is Tessera, a gated community of R 1-7 (larger properties and homes). To the north it is zoned R 1-6 but the properties are at least one acre in size. Most are larger and are horse properties and include Griffin Avenue, a historic area.

The proposed developer has the property in escrow and it is assumed that a decision will not be made until after the neighborhood meeting occurring this week. That neighborhood meeting scheduled for:

this Wednesday, June 5th

at 6 pm

at Heroes Library (at northeast corner of Bethany and 83rd Avenue)

It will be your opportunity to learn the proposed details of this project but more importantly it will be your only opportunity to express your approval or disapproval of the proposed project.

I believe the location as well as the assumed density is not appropriate and I have expressed that to the applicant’s attorney already. But now they need to hear from you. I’d like to see 50 or more people at this Wednesday evening meeting. That would be a strong voice to convince the developer that their project is in the wrong location.

Please share this blog freely with your neighbors and friends. Information is critical. It is important that the people of Glendale come out to this meeting.

© 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.

Let’s face it. Downtown Glendale is not robust despite years of community stakeholders’ discussion and strategic planning. It’s time to think differently. One of the endemic problems continues to be that downtown property owners think their properties are worth more than the market will bear. As an example, a local restaurant is about to close because they can no longer afford to pay the rent. One would think the property owner would work with them to keep the property in use but that is not the case. After all, some reduced rent is better than receiving no rent at all. So the space will turn into another vacant store front for months, maybe even years.

A little history is in order.  In 2008 the city council began preparations to construct a new court house due to the inadequacy of space in the existent building. Workshops were held and in 2009 council hired the International Facilities Group (IFG) as Project Manager with Populous as the architect and New Construction-Arena as the builder to construct a new court house. The project cost was $42 million and it was supposed to be completed in 2010. Some initial underground work was done and then the project stopped. Why? The council realized the city saddled with debt, simply could not afford to build it. I was never very supportive of the project because the cost was exorbitant. I thought we were building a Mercedes when we needed a Ford. In other words I thought the initial cost was too high and as with most construction projects the eventual cost would have ballooned way above the original $42 million. In the past 10 years the court conditions have only become worse and the space they have is woefully inadequate. Here is the conceptual of the 2010 building. Grand isn’t it?

This year the city council is also dealing with the city prosecutors’ facility. They have been using a modular building that has seen better days and that was only supposed to be a temporary fix. The roof is a sieve and in the last monsoon work spaces and many important work documents were flooded. They have need of new work quarters as well. City council is considering moving them to the Sine building.

That got me to thinking. What could be done if we thought “outside the box” to address not only the court space issue and the prosecutors need for a new facility but create a major downtown revival as well?

Downtown Glendale needs a transfusion…in thinking. So here’s a radical proposal. We need to shake things up and rearrange the deck chairs. Let’s move the City Court, the Prosecutors’ Office, Police and Fire Administration into the current City Hall. There is enough room to co-locate a satellite county court into the building as well. There is already adequate parking to service the facility. It would remain a robust facility filled with workers as well as visitors.

Where would the current occupants of City Hall go? How about building a new City Hall? The city already owns land (approximately 14-20 acres) at the southwest corner of Cardinals Way (former Bethany Home Road) and 91st Avenue right next to the city owned Black parking lot. The Black lot was constructed to satisfy the city’s contractual obligation to provide parking spaces for Cardinals games. It would provide instant parking for a new City Hall as the Black lot is unused during weekly business hours. The new facility would not occupy all of that acreage and would provide much needed stimulus to create office development on the remaining acreage surrounding the new City Hall. Glendale is currently at a major disadvantage as there is no available office space in our town. With a location close to the Loop 101 a new City Hall would become more accessible to visitors and residents alike.

The city is currently planning to sell the Bank of America building. If the court, prosecutors’ office and public safety administration were moved into our existent City Hall, the city could also sell the city court building and the public safety building. While we are at it the city should also sell the Civic Center. The proceeds from these sales could pay off bonds issued for a new City Hall. These city owned downtown buildings should be sold only for commercial use that would immediately create a constant and reliable day time worker population for downtown and would in fact create more reliable revenue opportunities for downtown businesses.

Since the historical Sine Building would become vacant let’s consider turning it into a business incubator or museum or art space. How about linking up with the Smithsonian Museum and become eligible for their rotating exhibits?

While we are at it let’s relocate Velma Teague Library to the Bead Museum and bring this much loved library asset technologically into the 21st Century. Then sell or rent the vacant library space to perhaps a restaurant like Positano’s. Let’s remodel the amphitheater space and get programming in it as many nights a year as possible (200 nights?).

I have not articulated nor shared this vision for downtown Glendale with anyone until now. I am sure heads will explode all over the place. How dare she suggest a new City Hall or selling three major city buildings?

This may not be the perfect way to move the city’s deck chairs but I think these ideas could grow not just the daily downtown population but grow consistent evening traffic as well. Then perhaps the downtown merchants won’t have to rely on just a few major festivals every year to produce enough sales for them to keep them afloat. Keep in mind that people like to live close to where they work and this concept could stimulate the need for a downtown apartment building and begin to create permanent residential density that the downtown so desperately needs.

I certainly hope the downtown stakeholders read this blog and once they get over the shock of  the idea of radical transformation they will embrace the idea that we can’t keep doing the same things over and over again with exactly the same outcomes for that is the definition of insanity. My ideas may not be the exact way to go but I hope it provokes a real discussion for revitalizing downtown. I would love to get feedback on the concepts I have presented, especially from the downtown community. Perhaps a major change such as I envision will finally make the downtown owners have buildings that are really worth what they think, unrealistically, they are presently worth right now.

© 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.

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 Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 9 A.M. the City of Glendale will host the Grand Opening celebration of its newest library branch at Heroes Regional Park located at the northeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road.

In all honesty, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Why? You’re asking. It should be a day of celebration and it most certainly is. But there is so much more to this happy ending. Let me tell you about it.

Way back in Fiscal Year 1998-99 two projects simultaneously appeared in the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). One was the West Branch Library allocating funds for its design in FY 2001-2002 and its construction was slated to begin in FY 2004. The other was the Multi-Generational Center North allocating funding for FY 2000-2001. The branch library and the multi-gen center were slated to begin in FY 2001-2002.

 In FY 2001-2002 a new major project is added, the Recreation/Aquatics Center North appears. That same Fiscal Year the slippage of just one project, the library, begins. The design of the library is still in FY 2001-2002 but actual construction is moved to FY 2004-2005.

These projects remain constant until Fiscal Year 2003-2004. In 2003-2004 the city experienced some economic difficulties, yet that year, both north projects, the Multi-Gen Center North and the Recreation/Aquatic Center North are approved and merged into one major project for $13,896,012 with a Groundbreaking in April of 2005. The west branch library construction is moved once again…now to Fiscal Year 2005-2006 with an opening in 2007.

Then what do you know? In Fiscal Year 2005-2006 the year that library construction is to begin, a majority of city council moved $6 million in funding for the library to the Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center construction. Library construction is moved back once again to FY 2008-2009 with an opening in FY 2010. In 2009 the national recession began and I stopped keeping track knowing the city had no money.

To sum it all up, in 8 years the Recreation/Aquatics Center North was open and another 12 years later we are finally opening a branch library in West Glendale. Why? It wasn’t just “economic difficulties.” It was far more than that. The former mayor and I often butted heads on many issues. I was certainly not one of her council “mushrooms.” (Mushrooms are kept in the dark and fed ca-ca.) She and her mushrooms were not about to give “evil” (her nickname for me) a win in my district. As far as I am concerned, it was spiteful retribution. Rest assured she will deny and offer plausible sounding reasons as to why the library was never constructed during her tenure. Consider the source and the motivation.

That is why I could cry. It has taken so bloody long to get this long needed and awaited amenity for the people of West Glendale. An entire generation has grown up without the benefit of a nearby library. That is just not right.

I laugh because the next generation will benefit. Reading must not become a forgotten art. Libraries teach young ones the love of reading and for many it becomes a lifelong habit. For 20 years the Yucca district has been without a public facility in which to hold meetings. Finally the library will have a Community Meeting Room that can be reserved for neighborhood meetings, etc.

Admittedly, the library is tiny at 7,500 square feet but it is not what was first proposed, that of a modular building ( which I considered to be an insult implying that West Glendale residents were not even worthy of a permanent structure) and it is constructed to be expanded. Velma Teague and Foothills are approximately 25,000 to 35,000 square feet and the Main Library is 65,000 square feet. I suspect the pressure of use on this new branch will be so great that expansion will have to occur in a couple of years.

In the meantime there is so much more to be completed at Heroes Regional Park. Projects still to be done include a water feature, a dog park, a Recreation/Aquatics Center West and sports fields – all part of this Park’s Master Plan. I am pleased that there is funding allocated in the upcoming FY 2019-2020 CIP for the water feature. It is the next element of the park that will be constructed.

I guess it’s better to look forward than back but it’s easier to do once one vents and my venting is done. Now I celebrate our new library, soon to be much loved and over used. No longer will we have to wait 15 or 20 minutes at the train tracks just to make a simple trip to the library.

Please join me on May 18th to celebrate. Please bring the kids. Heroes from the Arizona Avengers and Justice League of Arizona will be available for photos. There will be face painting, a balloon artist and a scavenger hunt with prizes for the kids. Adults can check out the new 3D printer, get a library card, use the computers for public use and learn about the Discovery and Exploration Backpack Program. Find out how this library can fit into your family’s fabric of life.

There is also a Heroes Park Brick Walkway Campaign under way. For $100 (individual) to $250 (corporate) one can purchase a brick to be engraved with 4 lines of text. I am placing my order for one this Monday. From the rendering I have seen, it looks like the opportunities to get a commemorative brick in the front entry walkway are limited. I would suggest that you place your order as soon as possible. I don’t know if orders can be placed online but I will find out and update this blog when I do.

So, I will laugh and be joyful. We have a library. Tiny though it might be, it will be mighty in changing the character of the community it serves. For me, it is symbolic of more to come and the completion of Heroes Regional Park after so many years.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

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