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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.

On Tuesday, March 12th, the voters of Phoenix will choose their new mayor. The candidates are both former councilmembers, Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela. I noted an opinion column by Elvia Diaz in the March 7th edition of the Arizona Republic. In the piece Ms. Diaz remarks on Valenzuela’s unabashed support for giving the Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver over $170,000 dollars of Phoenix taxpayers’ money.

One of her comments struck me as particularly relevant, “There is a reason why he (Sarver) and other heavy-hitters are backing Valenzuela. They know they can keep getting sweet deals with him at the helm of City Hall.”

I find that remark of hers to be descriptive of Valenzuela’s style of leadership. I do not have a personal relationship with either candidate. I have met Valenzuela a few times and my last opportunity to talk to him was a ‘one-on-one’ over coffee. It was apparent at that meeting that he seemed to be seeking my support as a Glendale councilmember. It was something I would not give as there were events in Valenzuela’s background that bothered me.

The contrast between Gallego and Valenzuela couldn’t be starker. Gallego, in viewing her debate performances, exhibits a command of and a depth of knowledge about Phoenix issues and proposes solutions that Valenzuela simply could not match. He appeared to be out-of-his-depth.

Valenzuela, unfortunately, does not seem to be very bright.  His problem is when you don’t know about issues, you turn to others for answers. It seems apparent that Valenzuela will turn to those ‘heavy-hitters’ who contributed mightily to his campaign for his answers. Those answers may not serve the best interests of the ordinary Phoenix resident.

Perhaps the most concerning is his job as a Glendale fire fighter. I asked Danny if he were willing to terminate his Glendale fire fighting job if he should be elected mayor of Phoenix. He was unwilling to do so and stated that he would continue to perform both jobs. As a Glendale councilmember I know how much time I devote to this job and it is considerable. The job has odd hours as well. I could be going to staff informational meetings during the course of a day, attend a luncheon and do a ribbon cutting or attend a regional event in the evening. It is not a 9 to 5 job.

I just couldn’t envision how Valenzuela would manage doing a 24 hour shift at a Glendale fire station. I also couldn’t envision Valenzuela’s security detail riding on a Glendale fire truck with him as his station answered a call.

Over time, as this question of dual jobs became more and more prominent during his campaign, Valenzuela eventually modified his position by stating that he would take a leave of absence from his Glendale fire fighter’s job.  Really? Just how was that supposed to work? Glendale was going to hold his old job for him for 4 years and then whenever he decided he’d come back and he could pick up where he left off? A very sweet deal that I doubt you or I would ever be given.

There’s an old adage “that we are judged by the company we keep.” Time for a little back story. Sammy Chavira and Danny Valenzuela were buddies. After all, Sammy was a Glendale councilmember and a Phoenix fire fighter and Danny was a Phoenix councilmember and a Glendale fire fighter. Both were members of the Hispanic Fire Fighters Association (HFFA) until both resigned under curious circumstances. Both urged the HFFA to hold a major fund raising event using friends of both gentlemen to produce the event.  The HFAA lost tons of money and there was never an audited accounting of where the revenues from the event went. Shortly thereafter both men resigned.

Sammy Chavira disgraced himself as a Glendale councilmember with a series of questionable trips using taxpayer money such as flying to Washington, D.C. to see the Pope. Chavira even used his city credit card to buy dinner for a group of Phoenix officials, including Valenzuela. That was a ‘no-no’. When it became public all of the officials, including Valenzuela, reimbursed the city of Glendale for their portion of the dinner expense.

When Valenzuela announced his run for mayor, he cut all ties with Chavira and terminated their relationship. All well and good but it begs the question, how many other Chavira-type friends does Valenzuela have?

Speaking of friends, how does the fire union fit into Valenzuela’s candidacy? I think we can all assume that they are helping him every possible way that they can…money, expertise and manpower. They can be expected to be giddy with joy should Valenzuela win the seat. Finally, they would have a friend in a real position of power that would fulfill their agenda.

Lastly, as noted in a Laurie Roberts’ Arizona Republic column today, suddenly dark money is being spent at a dizzying rate for Valenzuela in the last few days before the election. Today there is a full page ad in the Republic paid for by Advancing Freedom, Inc. a non-profit based in Oklahoma. Who or what is Advancing Freedom? Is it the light rail folks, the fire union or Sarver and the Suns? We’ll probably never know as they are not required to list their sources of funding under $50,000.

 It certainly smells of last minute desperation. It seems like a ‘Hail Mary pass’. Do they know something through their polling that we don’t know? And is it that Gallego is about to become Phoenix’s second female mayor? Let’s hope so.

© 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 February 6, 2019 Laurie Roberts penned an opinion column in the Arizona Republic about tactics being used by the fire union as it inserts itself into the Phoenix election for Mayor between Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela. Here is the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2019/02/06/police-and-fire-groups-attack-kate-gallego-unfair/2784074002/ .

When I read the piece it was déjà vu all over again. It immediately took me back to my 2012 election run against Sammy Chavira, a Glendale resident and Phoenix fire fighter. The fire union poured thousands of dollars into fact manipulated ads against me. Sammy was their guy, their brother, and by God they were going to do what they needed to do to get him elected. They out spent me 4 or 5 to 1 and of course, waited to attack in the closing days of the campaign forestalling any opportunities to rebut the fast and loose “facts” they used. Too bad their guy was allegedly a crook who spent taxpayer money on unnecessary trips such as a visit to Washington, D.C. to see the Pope. Sammy served one term and did not survive in his run for a second term.

Now the fire union is doing it again. Danny Valenzuela is a Phoenix resident and a Glendale fire fighter running for the mayorship of Phoenix. Is it any wonder that the fire union, using a political action committee (PAC) called Moving Phoenix Forward created expressly for this purpose, has employed what are clearly dirty ads to get their failing candidate elected? In the November 2018 Phoenix primary Danny could only muster about 25% of the vote and trailed Gallego by nearly 2 to 1. They are desperate and now anything goes. Why? Because fire wants a raise and they know their brother Danny will give it to them.

Here are some of the quotes from Laurie Roberts’s opinion column:

“With early balloting for Phoenix mayor just a week away, police and firefighter unions are out with an ad attacking front runner Kate Gallego.”

“…police officers and firefighters would be so desperate to get their guy elected that they would play fast and loose with facts.”

“In a Jan. 31 press release announcing the ad, Moving Phoenix Forward pronounces the election ‘a dead heat once likely voters learn the facts’. Then they spent $400,000 distorting those facts.”

I don’t personally know Kate Gallego. In fact, I have never met her. She impresses me as an elected official who does her “homework” I can recognize and appreciate other elected officials who do likewise. Kate Gallego is one of those. She does do her homework and has an incredible array of knowledge about the operations of the City of Phoenix. It appears to me that her commitment to the job is truly to serve the interests of each and every resident in Phoenix and not just the special interests.

Just remember Danny is the candidate who said if elected he will remain a Glendale fire fighter. I can just see his security detail riding on a fire truck with him. When he received a lot of push back on that idea he amended his statement to say he would take a leave of absence from the Glendale fire department. No one is sure this is even a workable solution. Does Danny expect the city to leave his position vacant for four years, should he be elected and then be given his job back whenever he requests it? This is the same Danny who, it is alleged, had an affair while married. This is the same Danny whom, if elected, will be bought and paid for strictly by special interest groups who donated to his campaign. This is the same Danny whom, if elected, will most likely throw the concerns and interests of the average Phoenician under the bus if it conflicts with those who donated heavily to his campaign. Danny appears to be part of the “good ole’ boy” school of governing. You know the type. We’ve seen that type of elected official over and over again. It’s the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality. The people of Phoenix deserve better and can get it with Kate Gallego.

© 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 choice for a new Mayor of Phoenix is less than 2 weeks away.  I really have no dog in the fight regarding the Phoenix mayoral election but I was intrigued by a recent opinion piece by Robert Robb in the Arizona Republic questioning why the position of Phoenix mayor should be a full time job. In an October 14, 2018 column entitled Here’s why Phoenix needs a part-time mayor Mr. Robb states, “Making decisions about overall policies that put city government on a stable and sustainable path, rather than temporizing and punting, is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be terribly time-consuming.” He goes on to say, “The only way to turn the mayor position, and the city council position as well, into a full-time job is to expand its activities to include political pursuits only marginally related to the charter function of setting sound overall policy.” Here is the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/robertrobb/2018/10/14/phoenix-mayor-should-part-time-daniel-valenzuela-right/1606614002/ .

One can understand Mr. Robb’s point of view if you accept that he an outsider looking in. His premise is that all activities unrelated to establishing city policy are purely political in nature with the ultimate goal of furthering the elected official’s political career and agenda.

So, Mr. Robb, when an elected official sits on a regional or local committee or board, according to your premise it’s only to advance a political career and not to represent or advance the interests of or the position of that community? Really? So when the elected official sits on a council subcommittee it’s only to advance a political career and not to represent or advance the interests of the represented constituency? Really? So when the elected official is invited to a neighborhood meeting or a local event it’s only to advance a political career and not to communicate with one’s constituency? Really?

There are many events and activities that are outside the scope of sitting at a dais and voting on policy. There’s also a great deal of ‘homework’ for the conscientious elected official to research and consider before casting that policy vote.

Seventeen years ago when I was first elected as a city councilmember it was a part time job and I received commensurate part time compensation. Over the years the job has grown in the complexity of the policy issues about which we decide as well as time spent on regional cooperation and constituency services on a one-to-one basis. In a large city it can no longer be considered a part time job. Then magnify the responsibilities of a councilmember for that of a mayor of a large city. It is most definitely a full time job that admittedly has the elected official pursuing some political agenda but predominately serving the needs of the city and its constituents.

The past mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, received a salary of $88,000 a year. I do not know if he received a cell phone or car allowance but benefits would include at a minimum, medical benefits and a city contribution to his pension.  If the Phoenix mayoral position is considered as a part time job surely the compensation would reflect that as well. A salary of $88,000 a year plus benefits is more than many Phoenicians earn. So, Mr. Robb, a part time job deserves a part time salary.

This issue is pertinent because on October 4th, Valenzuela’s campaign made the following announcement, “I will put my firefighter career on hold during my term if elected as Mayor of Phoenix.” Apparently the candidate has tacitly recognized that being the Mayor of one of the largest cities in the country is a full time job.

His announcement raises a whole new set of questions. What does putting his Glendale fire fighting career on “hold” mean exactly? Is he proposing a sabbatical or leave? With or without pay? When he decides to resume his fire fighting career would there have to be a city commitment offering him his job back immediately?

Nearly every city will grant sabbatical or leave time. It has been typically and historically used and granted to city personnel called up to active military duty, short sabbaticals for research, maternity leave, etc. To my knowledge sabbaticals and leaves have never been granted for a strictly political reason such as holding elected office or for such a long time…4 years. Phoenix voters and Glendale taxpayers have the right to know exactly what putting Valenzuela’s career on hold entails. The voters should know whether they are really getting a full time mayor. The taxpayers of Glendale should know if Valenzuela will continue to receive his current salary if he is on “hold” and if his “hold” time impacts his pension.

There was one other comment made by Mr. Robb in his opinion piece that was of interest and that was, “Valenzuela is the candidate of the status quo powers: the firefighters union and the business community. As mayor, he is unlikely to rock many boats.” This is probably the understatement of all time. He is more likely to advance the firefighters union and business community agenda. After all, they will have brought him to the dance.

Mr. Valenzuela’s campaign has relied heavily on his position as a Glendale firefighter. His campaign signs shout fire fighter. His campaign website has photos with Glendale fire trucks at one of the city’s fire stations. How can one tell? Glendale fire vehicles are yellow and Phoenix fire vehicles are red.

Is this a violation of the federal Hatch Act? I’m not an attorney so obviously I don’t know. But here is some background on the Hatch Act. It is a federal law passed in 1939. It limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as some state, D.C., and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. ​In 1940, the law was expanded to cover state and local employees whose salaries are paid, in part, by federal funds or whose duties are connected to federally funded activities. The Supreme Court has on two occasions upheld its constitutionality. It prohibits the use of government resources or position to affect the results of an election.

Over the years the Glendale Fire Department has been the recipient of federal grants. The most notable and frequently received have been the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grants, just one of a menu of Homeland Security grants available to cities. It would seem that Mr. Valenzuela has participated in or benefitted from UASI grants and that his duties are and have been, from time to time during his 15 years as a Glendale fire fighter, connected to federally funded activities. Therefore the use of government assets and equipment for his campaign could be a Hatch Act Violation.

It is up to the Phoenix voter to decide whether you will be getting the benefit of a part time or full time mayor. It’s up to the Phoenix voter to decide whether Mr. Valenzuela’s use of Glendale resources to tout his position as a fire fighter in his campaign is appropriate.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

Recently the Arizona Republic aired a story about the city’s sale of the St. Vincent de Paul building implying that something nefarious occurred. Expect me to post a blog very soon laying out the facts behind that sale.

The latest story from the same news media implies that the city may be preparing to enact the same methodology of sale with the Brown lot. The Brown lot, located south of Kellis High School and east of 91st Avenue, is called that because it had been used by the city to provide color coded parking for the State Farm Stadium. With the development of the Black lot south of the stadium the Brown lot is no longer needed.

In a recent story a reporter says the following with regard to the Brown lot, “A City Council member said she expects a developer to build apartments on the high-profile corner near the city’s sports and entertainment district.” The reporter went on to say, “About a month later, Councilwoman Joyce Clark wrote a blog post about how she expected apartments to come to the site of the old parking lot, which is on that intersection’s southeast corner”.

 Here is what I really said in a September 18, 2018 blog entitled,  Apartments in Yucca district? “Another possible site for an apartment complex is the city-owned Brown lot north of the Provence subdivision. In this case an apartment complex is appropriate for the location.” I did not say that apartments would be built on the Brown lot. I speculated that it is possible…not a certainty.

Since there are apartments to be constructed on 95th Avenue across from the Super WalMart, I expressed thoughts in my blog about the possibility of any other locations within the district that might be suitable. The only one I could think of was the Brown lot. Does that mean it is happening? No. It means I thought it could be a possibility. Do I have any definitive knowledge that there will be apartments on this site? The answer is a simple ‘no’.

Then the reporter says, “Clark told The Republic that, at the time of her blog post, the council hadn’t discussed the site in executive session. But that contradicts a statement she made on her Facebook page as she responded to someone about her blog post. She wrote there that she couldn’t give details about the asking price of the land because ‘that is executive session information’.” 

This one is on me because I didn’t make myself clear in a response to a Facebook query. Someone asked what the sale price of the Brown lot was with this question, “Its 17 acres. What are we asking for it Joyce?” My answer was, “I am sorry that is Executive Session information and under state law I may not discuss.” My answer was not precise or clear. In my mind I was answering broadly and generally to indicate that prices of any city owned land are executive session discussions. It was not intended to be a confirmation (or a denial) that a Brown lot sale price had been discussed in executive session.

I contend that the reporter was also not precise in reporting on what I said, wrote or didn’t say, write.

I bring these items to your attention because the news media often slants a story. It’s understandable. They need a “hook” to entice the reader. If you have ever been interviewed by a reporter and then see the subsequent story, you might have remarked, but I didn’t say that.

 I didn’t say that apartments are coming to the Brown lot in my blog. It was mere speculation.  I didn’t affirm or deny in answering a Facebook question that the price of the Brown lot had been discussed in executive session. Those were inferences made by the reporter. Unfortunately they were not accurate inferences. What’s new? It happens all the time. I guess we might understand when the news media is called the “fake news.”

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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.

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE THREE CHAVIRA VIDEOS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN. EACH IS ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF IN LENGTH.

It has been 18 years and 185 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Glendale city council travel policy…It certainly was an interesting topic that had been requested by Councilmember Chavira after he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Ironically, Chavira, after having made the request for discussion, had not one substantive suggestion or comment to make. He remained largely silent as councilmembers opined and only said he thanked staff for their work on the issue and wanted Glendale, “to set the standard in travel.” That was it. That was Sammy’s entire contribution to the discussion. If you would like to view the complete council discussion, use this link:

http://glendale-az.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2452 .

City Manager Phelps introduced the item with an apology explaining that the staff work on the issue was lacking. Councilmember Aldama was visibly upset. Why, you ask? He wanted to provide input to staff prior to bringing the issue to workshop and did not have that opportunity. Later in the discussion he suggested a citizen’s Ad Hoc Committee to draft council’s travel policy. The idea went over like a lead balloon with the rest of council literally ignoring his suggestion. He did offer one interesting statement saying “he has never misspent” taxpayer money. Yet some Glendale residents are curious as to why he gave thousands of dollars to the Glendale Women’s Club with the understanding that they would pass it on in support of yet another Glendale festival. Hmmm….

Paul Giblin of the Arizona Republic had a story online on the evening of June 21, 2016, several hours after the city council workshop. Here is the link:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/06/20/glendale-consider-tougher-taxpayer-funded-travel-rules/86152722/ . In his story Giblin says, “The newspaper (Arizona Republic) reported on March 4 that Chavira expensed $2,075 to see his friend Ruben Gallego sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, and $1,933 to watch Pope Francis address Congress in Washington (on a large screen TV for overflow crowd).

“The Republic also reported that the first-term councilman billed taxpayers a combined $1,033 for poorly documented business-development trips to the Los Angeles area, and a combined $3,136 for airline ticket change fees, seat upgrades and baggage charges since taking office in January 2013.”

The council word “du jour” was “transparency” begun by Councilmember Malnar and repeated continually by the rest of council. It is a word so over used by politicians as to lose all meaning. What Glendale taxpayers expect and deserve is full disclosure that leads to accountability when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars. Several interesting comments were made by various councilmembers. 

Councilmember Tolmachoff spent the better part of five minutes explaining the importance of councilmember travel. For a moment I thought I was back in school. Her rationale centered on the building of relationships that would further Glendale’s agenda as well as the personal development gained through travel. I would suggest that both of those arguments are debatable. She indicated that she wanted staff to develop a method of posting her spending of taxpayer money online.  This is not a new or original idea. This is a concept that I have publicly advocated for as part of my campaign platform for four months, ever since I announced my candidacy to replace Chavira.

Councilmember Turner, after a vigorous defense of staff’s work on the issue, proceeded to offer a litany of specific changes that he wanted. They ranged from provision of itemized documentation; the use of pre and post travel reports; justification for reimbursement of travel change fees; alerting the City Manager of planned travel; and CFO approval of travel expenses. Generally there was council consensus on the rejection of the use of per diem by councilmembers and the desire to post councilmember travel reports online in order to provide greater transparency (there’s that word again). Assistant City Manager Duensing summarized the discussion by stating that staff would be back at a future date with recommendations to increase council “transparency.”

Three recent opinion pieces clearly offer the reasons as to why the need for Glendale city council travel policy review was required. The first is a Letter to the Editor by Ron Myers, constable of the Arrowhead Justice Precinct in Glendale offered on March 10, 2016:

“As an elected public official in Maricopa County who lives in Glendale, I am appalled and dismayed to read a story in The Republic that Glendale City Councilman Chavira has abused the trust of the taxpayers in Glendale by spending lavishly on questionable trips and meals charged to his expense account that we all pay for.

“What possible city business could it be for him to fly to Washington, D.C., to observe the Pope’s speech on a TV monitor or to watch his friend get sworn in as a congressman? Does he really think he can justify spending over $400 on dinner for his superiors in the Phoenix Fire Department while out of town?

“The City of Glendale takes one more black eye from out-of-control politicians. Shame on him and shame on the City of Glendale for allowing this fraud and abuse.”

Another is an opinion piece by Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic on March 25, 2010. She said:

“Glendale’s travelin’ man, Councilman Sammy Chavira, is asking for a review of the city’s travel policy. Apparently, it’s not clear to him that taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the $2,000 tab for him to travel to Washington, D.C. to see his pal, Rueben Gallego, sworn into Congress. Apparently, he believes it was a legitimate taxpayer expense to fly him to the nation’s Capital so that he could watch Pope Francis address Congress. Clearly, Glendale citizens needed to spend $420 for a posh seafood dinner party at a celebrated restaurant in Washington, D.C. Giblin reports that Chavira’s 2014 dinner party included several Phoenix officials, including two of Chavira’s bosses. Chavira is a Phoenix fire fighter.

“Yeah, I can see where there would be a clear need for Glendale taxpayers to foot that bill.

“Chavira said this week that recent medial reports (read: Giblin’s excellent dogging of this story) have led him to believe the city needs to review its policy. ‘While I have always followed the travel policies of the city, I am also completely supportive of reviewing the council’s policies and guidelines,’ he told his colleagues. The policy allows elected officials to decide what is and is not reasonable. Essentially it relies upon the city to elect ethical and honest leaders who don’t look to lax policies as an excuse to rack up frequent flier miles at the public’s expense.

“Given that that isn’t working in Glendale, perhaps it is time for the council to review travel. Or maybe it’s time for the citizens to review who they are putting on council.”

The third piece is a short video conversation by Columnist E.J. Montini and reporters Paul Giblin and Craig Harris as they talk about government officials expensing questionable trips to taxpayers and the lack of accountability in monitoring how they spend taxpayers’ money. Here is the link:  http://azc.cc/1p4sVnQ  .

Laurie Roberts had it right when she said, “…it’s time for the citizens to review who they are putting on the council.” It’s time to remove Sammy Chavira from city council.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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.

It has been 18 years and 141 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

By May 4, 2016 I had turned in my nominating petitions with far more validated voter signatures than required. It didn’t take long for the opposition to ask for copies of my petitions. I received this email from the City Clerk on May 6, 2016: “I am sending this information to you as part of our neutrality and transparency with candidates.  Mr. Allan Lira requested copies of your nomination petitions.”

This is nothing new. Almost every candidate will ask for copies of his/her opponent’s nominating petitions in the hope that they can prove that there are not enough valid signatures. If successful they can get rid of a potential opponent without ever having to run against him or her. Only occasionally does it prove successful. I’m afraid Mr. Lira won’t have any luck for we validated nearly 700 registered voter signatures before the petitions were submitted to the City Clerk.

We wondered who Mr. Lira is and why would he be asking for copies of my petitions. One of our group found this. Mr. Allan Lira is on Linked In and here is the information he provides:

Allan Lira                                                                                                                       Data analyst at Gallego for Phoenix                                                                    Location: Glendale, Arizona        Industry: Political Organization

  1. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99
  2. Gallego for Arizona
  3. Marquez for Arizona

His listed previous work experience:

Organizer

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99

November 2014 – January 2015 (3 months)

Data Analyst/Team Lead

Gallego for Arizona

September 2014 – November 2014 (3 months)

Campaign Manager

Marquez for Arizona

January 2014 – August 2014 (8 months)

Data Analyst/Field Organizer

Gallego for Phoenix

June 2013 – November 2013 (6 months)

It appears that Mr. Lira currently works for Ruben Gallego as a data analyst at Gallego for Phoenix.  Ruben Gallego assumed office as Arizona’s 7th district U.S. Representative on January 3, 2015.

Thanks to the Arizona Republic we are all keenly aware of Sammy Chavira’s travel on your dime—taxpayer money. One of those infamous trips was for $2,075 to go back to Washington, D.C. to see his good buddy…wait for it… Rueben Gallego sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives.

Arizona Republic March 4, 2016

Arizona Republic
March 4, 2016

 

It’s interesting to see how the links within Sammy’s web interconnect. Sammy spent your money to see Gallego sworn in. Sammy’s questionable travel expenses were exposed by the Arizona Republic and include the Gallego trip. Here is the link to Paul Giblin’s front page story of March 4, 2016 about Sammy’s travel: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/04/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-charges-24k-trips-3-years-taxpayers/78857734/ .

Sammy is now getting assistance from the very same good buddy, Gallego, in his current run for the Yucca district city council position. Could it be because Sammy is in trouble, politically…and his friend Ruben Gallego is trying to save him?

Special interests have a long history of influencing political outcomes. Union influence is one of those long standing components. The fire union, for years, has been able to manipulate election outcomes in urban areas, notably Phoenix, Glendale and several other cities in the Metro Valley. Do you believe the Food Workers Union should join the fire union in determining your councilmembers in Glendale? Across this country voters in droves are rejecting candidates under the influence of big donor, special interest money. Perhaps Glendale voters will do the same.

Just something for the voters of the Yucca district to consider…

 

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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It has been 18 years and 95 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

PLEASE NOTE: To the left of this blog you will see how you can donate to my campaign. You may write a check and mail it to me or you may use the PayPal button. Sammy already has a war chest of $16,000+. The last campaign contribution he received was in December of 2015, 3 months ago, from…yep, Mark Becker of Becker Billboards in the amount of $5,000. Becker tried to get his billboards sited in north Glendale at Arrowhead.

Any amount is gratefully accepted from $5 to $5,000. You must include your name, your address, your employer and your job title. That is required by law. Donations from companies and corporations are prohibited. You do not have to live in the Yucca district, or Glendale, or the state of Arizona or even the United States to make a donation. Please take a moment to help me to regain the City Council seat representing the Yucca district and to “get their voice back.”

Sammy’s invisibility continues. Paul Giblin wrote an article on March 19, 2016, entitled Glendale expenses get more scrutiny. It is not online as of this date so no link to the story is provided. In it Giblin says, “Chavira declined to discuss the matter (of council’s plan to hold a workshop on travel expenses) after a City Council work session Tuesday, his first public appearance at City Hall since returning from another trip to Washington to attend a National League of Cities conference. Chavira previously said in an email that all of the trips he expensed were for legitimate purposes.”

In another Paul Giblin story he reports on the election rematch for the Yucca district council seat between Sammy and me, saying, “Chavira has been less public about his intentions (regarding his campaign for his seat). He did not return messages from The Arizona Republic and his campaign website and Twitter account were silent on the matter Monday.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/15/sammy-chavira-joyce-clark-could-have-council-election-rematch-glendale/81590186/ .

Interesting observations emerge from Sammy’s quotes. He says his trips were for “legitimate purposes.” Of course he does. What else can he possibly say? It’s perfectly legitimate for Sammy to fly to D.C. and watch the Pope on a large screen TV…but not on the taxpayers’ dime. It’s perfectly legitimate for Sammy to fly to D.C. to watch his buddy and mentor, Rueben Gallego, get sworn in as a U.S. Representative…but not on the taxpayers’ dime. It is never legitimate to use one’s position and power to host a dinner and curry favor with one’s bosses…especially on the taxpayers’ dime.

Sammy requested and received City Attorney Michael Bailey’s opinion that Sammy’s expenses did not violate any law. I bet that statement was well crafted and carefully worded. Well, of course one would expect Sammy to request that from Bailey and Bailey would comply. After all, Bailey’s bosses are the councilmembers and he serves at their pleasure. It wouldn’t do to make one of them angry.

I have been an incumbent and I have been the opponent of an incumbent when running for the Yucca council seat. Let me tell you, City Hall does protect the incumbent in a myriad of very subtle ways. Be warned — City Hall, this election cycle. City policy is that a councilmember may not take advantage of city resources, such as appearing on the City’s cable channel, six months before an election. The primary election is in on August 30, 2016.  As of February 29, 2016 the six month restriction began. A councilmember may not use city resources, financial or otherwise, for district newsletters, any sort of mailing or event if it has not been the habit and practice of the councilmember during the entire course of a person’s term. Sammy cannot use city resources to send out a special mailing or newsletter or to host an event between now and the Primary because he has never done it during his term of office. He may continue his Friday e-newsletters as they have been produced for him since he took office.

The other observation is Sammy’s remarkable disappearance and utter silence. Many Yucca district residents are saying that since Sammy has no good defense for his actions he seems to be saying even less than his usual “thank you” and has disappeared.  That’s not a new stance for Sammy. In the past year he was AWOL from nearly a dozen council meetings or workshop meetings. There were some other instances when he participated telephonically or when he arrived late for a meeting. Sammy hasn’t exactly been on the job lately.

Other residents believe Sammy is scared realizing that he’s in a heap of political “do-do.” Some feel he is being deliberately invisible in the hopes that this will blow over by election time. That’s not going to happen. Every Yucca district voter deserves to know that Sammy’s travel expenses and his other decisions or actions, at the very least, constitute an abuse of trust voters placed in him. Yucca district deserves better. Residents want to “get their voice back.”

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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.

It has been 18 years and 78 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

As I announced in my blog of March 3, 2016 I am in the process of deciding whether to run for my former Yucca district council seat. Today on the front page of the Arizona Republic is a major story by Paul Giblin on Councilmember Chavira’s use of his council discretionary funds for travel. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/03/04/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-charges-24k-trips-3-years-taxpayers/78857734/ . Thank you Paul Giblin for fleshing out with extensive research what I had discussed in my February 28, 2016 blog, Sammy the spendthrift. Giblin’s article is just one more reason to tip me toward serious consideration.

Here are some bullet points from the story by Giblin:

  • “Glendale Councilman Sammy Chavira expensed a trip to Washington to see U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego sworn in.”
  • “He billed city taxpayers for another trip to Washington to see the pope.”
  • “Chavira has taken the most trips of any current council member.”

 

I am dismayed and disgusted by Sammy’s cavalier approach to spending your money, taxpayer dollars, and you should be as well. This much I can tell you. While there is no oversight (and there should be) of how a Glendale councilmember spends his or her discretionary funds. 95% of the time they are mindful of the fact that it is not their money and treat its use with respect.

As a former councilmember on the occasions that I took out-of-town trips to the National League of Cities Conventions and as a member of the League’s Public Safety Steering Committee, I turned in receipts for all of my expenditures. I often submitted Public Safety Steering Committee summary reports to senior staff and my fellow councilmembers. When I attended state League meetings sited, for example, in Scottsdale, I would not stay in a nearby hotel but rather traveled from my home to the meeting site daily. When the sites of state League meetings were too far away to accommodate this practice, such as Tucson, then I would stay in a hotel. During my entire tenure as a Glendale councilmember I never had your dollars pay for my cell phone or its monthly charges even though much of its use was city related. I never submitted monthly car mileage reimbursements. There were a handful of occasions, such as state League meetings, for which I did ask for mileage reimbursement. The point is that I was careful because it wasn’t “my” money. A majority of Glendale’s councilmembers are mindful of their council expenses. All it takes is one bad apple to destroy the people’s trust in how elected officials operate and act on their behalf.

Perhaps the most disturbing of all of Sammy’s D.C. trips was his expensing taxpayer dollars to spring for a dinner that included his bosses at the Phoenix Fire Department (Sammy is a Phoenix firefighter); now retired Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick; and Glendale firefighter and Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela. Oh, to be a fly on the wall. Clearly Chavira used that to self-aggrandize himself. I wonder if Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela expensed this D.C. trip to Phoenix taxpayers. I wonder if the attendees were informed of Burdick’s plans to retire as Glendale Fire Chief and subsequently run for the Glendale mayoral seat.

His trip to see the Pope and another trip to see his good friend Rueben Gallego’s inauguration are certainly questionable. No matter how he tries to spin these trips they were certainly not “city business.”

Giblin states that he set up at least three meetings with Sammy to hear his side of the story and all three meetings were cancelled. It’s reminiscent of the many meetings Sammy has scheduled with Glendale residents only to have them cancelled as well. Instead he sent an email to Giblin saying in part, “I made these trips on behalf of the city for legitimate purposes…”

Don’t forget there are other sketchy Chavira financial dealings. One was his and Councilmember Danny Valenzuela’s involvement in a Hispanic Firefighters Association event fundraiser that netted not one dime to the organization. In fact the organization lost money as it had to pay for the actions required to hold the event. How about his $8,000 sponsorship of the failed Glendale Watermelon Festival or his $2,500 sponsorship of the Glendale Dia del los Muertos, an event that allowed political activities favoring Democrat candidates for elected office.

Sammy has demonstrated a pattern of questionable financial decision making as a Glendale city councilmember. If he makes poor decisions with his council budget can you really trust him to make good decisions about the city’s budget?

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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.

Yesterday’s blog entitled “Please delete this email after you read it” regarding Councilmember Gary Sherwood’s email resulting in an allegation of violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law created quite a bit of controversy rippling through the Coyotes world, Glendale’s political world and even the journalistic world. I suppose the reaction from the Coyotes world is the most predictable.  As anyone would expect, the Coyotes fans are fiercely loyal and anything that raises the specter of the disappearance of their team from Glendale sends them into overdrive. Their first reaction is to kill the messenger. In this case that includes not only me but Mayor Weiers, the Glendale Star and the Arizona Republic.  They denigrated Mayor Weiers for outing actions that may prove to be illegal. They gnashed their teeth over my blog and the newspapers’ articles because they perceived the information as yet another hit on their beloved team.

What they fail to recognize is that while the 4 councilmembers’ actions preceded a vote on the Coyotes deal, those actions could have preceded any council vote on any issue.  The troubling issue for many people is not the outcome of the vote but rather the actions that preceded and led up to the vote. The allegation is not about the Coyotes. The allegation is about improper behavior by 4 councilmembers. An investigation by the AG’s Office will surely answer the question, did they collude behind closed doors prior to the vote? Did they conduct city business secretly to assure a positive vote? Why speak to the issue of a possible Open Meeting Law violation when instead fans can deride the messengers? Why is it alright to dismiss possible illegal behavior because it is associated with a vote on the Coyotes deal? It’s a case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the Glendale political world is also predictable. It was learned that when the email first came to light, Vice Mayor Knaack denied attending the meeting. However, that would never do and would not last long. It would have had Sherwood and Knaack as adversaries; something they can ill afford right now. Today, the explanation given is that Sherwood and Knaack were in the same car when they received a cell phone call from Woods. Two things are questionable about this scenario. Where was Sammy? After all, Sherwood in his email says, “Sammy is already on board as he was with us last night.” Even if you can swallow this car explanation, it doesn’t make the allegation go away. The Open Meeting Law says, “Splintering the quorum can be done by meeting in person, by telephone, electronically, or through other means to discuss a topic that is or may be presented to the public body for a decision.” Note that they are not denying the basis of the allegation. Are they trying to muddy the waters by responding to minutia such as where they were when the meeting of the 3 and Woods took place? It’s another case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the print world can only be described as fascinating. Yesterday afternoon, July 21, I received a phone call from Paul Giblin, an Arizona Republic reporter. He proceeded to express his offense that I dared to say that I had scooped reporter Peter Corbett and the Arizona Republic.  He opined that my writing was done on the back of Peter Corbett who had made the FOIA request. He said that my journalistic standards were not as high as that of the Arizona Republic’s, and ended by saying; enjoy writing your little blog.

Later that day, I learned that Darrell Jackson of the Glendale Star had made the same kind of FOIA request. Who made the first request?  Update: July 23, 2014. I learned today that Darrell Jackson made the original FOIA request over 2 weeks ago. Did Peter Corbett do his story on the back of Darrell Jackson? Isn’t it weirdly coincidental that 2 reporters made the same FOIA request? Even more interesting is who tipped them off to the Sherwood email and why? What was the source’s motive for doing so? Situational ethics once again.

As for journalistic standards…hah…that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Arizona Republic readers have complained about the perceived bias in this paper’s stories for years; to the point that it has become legendary.   Paul Giblin’s outrage is much ado about nothing. More situational ethics.

© Joyce Clark,

2014 FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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.

The reaction to my blog on “Staying quiet in Glendale” hit a nerve with many readers. I received numerous emails from citizens and Glendale employees, past and present. Today’s a good day to round up all the speculative commentary received over the past few months and share.  There were several comments on Glendale’s current environment such as “’Being Quiet in Glendale’ hit the nail on the head!” or ”… not much had changed since Beasley has left….everyone still walking on eggshells and no trust…” Some commenters said the practice of reporting any interaction with councilmembers continues to this day. The general reaction was sympathetic to the four employees that either resigned or were terminated and that Mr. Bolton did not get a fair hearing. Many expressed the sentiment, if it is “so easy to get rid of the ‘good guys’ everyone’s in trouble.”

It also opened up much commentary on other Glendale related issues. Word is out there that we can expect Julie Frisoni’s appointment as Interim Assistant City Manager to become permanent any day.  Many of those commenting pointed out that Frisoni does not meet the minimum necessary qualifications for the position which mandate at least a Masters Degree in Business Administration or Public Administration. Another commenter shared that the very first action by the new City Manager Brenda Fischer was to have a video made about herself by…you guessed it…Julie Frisoni’s department. Several said Jamsheed Mehta is no longer an Interim Assistant City Manager and has been relegated back to his previous duties as Executive Director of Transportation. Hmmm…someone well qualified is shoved to the back of the bus.

Have you ever heard of a “cop card?” Me neither. Apparently it can be used to get out of a speeding ticket in Glendale. Rumor has it that one or two councilmembers could actually possess this “cop card.”

Did you know that City Manager Brenda Fischer’s husband was a firefighter in Henderson, Nevada (he may still hold that position)? Watch for Fischer to recommend making whole firefighters’ overtime pay – not straight time pay but overtime pay. FYI: while the Glendale Police Department has been cut by 16% over the past few years, the fire department’s cuts have come in at considerably less, only 8%.

Lastly, I was sent an article published by the Wall Street Journal on November 1, 2013 entitled Cities revival curbed by red-ink budgets by Jerry A. Dicolo and Cameron McWhirter. It said, in part, “New Orleans was one of five cities among the nation’s largest 250 that in 2012 faced a situation known in municipal finance as a ‘negative fund balance,’ according to data provided to the Wall Street Journal from Merritt Research Services, LLC. The others dealing with the issue, which means at the time the figure was reported, liabilities outweighed assets, were Allentown, PA, Providence, R.I., Glendale, AZ, and Detroit. Data on a few cities weren’t available as of August, 2013, when Merritt collected the information.Credit rating firms consider the metric a sign of a serious structural budget problem. In 2007, before the recession hit, Detroit was the only city with such an imbalance, the figures show. Glendale officials said a new sales tax is expected to generate more revenue and shore up its budget.” The Journal published a graph representing figures from August, 2013 depicting the 10 cities nationally with the lowest reserves (General Fund balance). Here they are in descending order:

  1. Detroit, Mich                     -27%  ( minus reflects negative fund balance to expenditures)
  2. Glendale, Ariz                   -21.2%
  3. Providence, R.I.                –  3.4%
  4. New Orleans, La               –   1.8%
  5. Allentown, Pa                   –  0.90%
  6. Paterson, N.J.                  +  0.07% (plus reflects positive fund balance to expenditures)
  7. New York, N.Y.                 + 0.72%
  8. New Haven, Conn             +   1.7%
  9. Bridgeport, Conn              +   2.4%
  10. Philadelphia, Pa                +   2.7%

In an article by the Arizona Republic dated October 31, 2013 entitled Challenges abound as cities climb out of financial holes by Parker Leavitt. It says, “Glendale’s general-fund reserves fell 143 percent over five years, ending fiscal 2012 with a $26.5 million negative balance, according to financial reports. Payments to the National Hockey League for Phoenix Coyotes operating losses led to significant declines in Glendale’s reserve funds in 2011 and 2012, according to a Moody’s credit report.” Obviously Glendale has significant financial problems. This council continues to spend money the city does not have.

Council has taken actions that were not budgeted in the current Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget: an external audit costing over a half million dollars; the Beacon Request for Proposal for the Arena (never used) costing over $100K; or the biggie, an additional $9M for the arena management fee (that will never be covered in total by the “enhanced revenue fees” promised by IceArizona); or the employee Christmas vacation time costing over $1M dollars. It adds up to approximately another $2M unbudgeted that will have to come from other departments…except for fire, I guess.

In upcoming budget workshops for Fiscal Year 2014-15 council must consider making substantial cuts of approximately $9M and additional cuts of about $5M a year for the next several years. The temporary sales tax increase is due to expire in 2017. There is already talk that the City Manager will recommend that the temporary sales tax increase become permanent. That is not what I, as a former councilmember, or the voters expect. The voter approved proposition mandates that it disappear in 2017 and that is what we demand. Every citizen should be on alert. If you have the time and inclination please watch when city council takes up the budget in March of 2014. I will be watching…will you?

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. 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.

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