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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.

If you see a disclaimer come up that indicates that my site is not safe it is because I have not yet procured an SSL certificate recently required for internet sites. I am in the process but I assure you my site is safe.

Late on Thursday afternoon, October 11, 2018 the following was delivered to Mayor Jerry Weiers as well as copies to the entire Glendale City Council, Glendale’s City Manager and the entire Phoenix City Council. It is not marked as a confidential document.

It is a Press Release for immediate release to the media and copied to the respective parties named above.

I have no comment at this time as either an elected official of Glendale or a private citizen. I have no idea if the allegations offered are true or false. However, this is a public document and within it is the representation of serious allegations that have been provided to all media. As a public document released to the media I believe that the citizens of Glendale and Phoenix are entitled to view the Press Release and the allegations contained therein.  It is up to you to draw your own conclusions about its veracity.

All of the parties who received the Press Release also received a copy of an interview by the young lady making the allegations. I am not releasing the video copy at this time until I have had an opportunity to consult with the Glendale City Attorney.

It has been 18 years and 111 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Many of us have heard of the federal Hatch Act. Broadly it prohibits local governmental employees from participating in local election activities. But since it’s a federal act who is covered and who is not?

“The Hatch Act applies to any city employee  ‘whose principal employment is in connection with an activity which is financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a Federal agency…’  5 U.S.C.A. § 1501(4) (emphasis added).  The number of city employees covered has expanded drastically over the years, due to numerous federal grants and loans made to local governments.  Employees of any police or fire department receiving grants and/or loans from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, or any other federal agency are subject to the limitations imposed by the Hatch Act.  Also covered are employees of any city department that participates in activities that are funded, in whole or in part, by any federal loans or grants, even if those funds were received from a state agency.” 

Examples of local governmental employees who are commonly covered by the Hatch Act include:

  • city clerks  (including deputy clerks and possibly city recorders)
  • employees of housing authorities
  • officers and employees of development and transportation authorities
  • emergency services employees
  • firefighters and police officers.”

Please note that the Hatch Act specifically identifies firefighters and police officers. Why? Because their departments typically accept numerous federal grants. It is a fact that both Glendale and Phoenix fire departments have accepted federal grants for emergency preparedness. Therefore those department’s employees are covered by the Hatch Act. Both Glendale and Phoenix police departments have accepted federal grants for the hiring of additional police officers. Therefore those department’s employees are also covered by the Hatch Act.

A “covered employee” may not use his or her official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election.  For example:    

  • May not use his or her official title or position while engaged in political activity  
  • May not host a political fundraiser    
  • May not invite others to a political fundraiser    
  • May not sell tickets to a political fundraiser
  • May not use any e-mail account or social media to distribute, send, or forward content that solicits political contributions 

That brings us to a very interesting set of observations leading to questions.

Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela is a city of Glendale firefighter and is a covered employee under the Hatch Act. Glendale firefighter Danny Valenzuela co-hosted a fundraiser for Glendale mayoral candidate Mark Burdick.

Glendale Councilmember Sammy Chavira is a Phoenix firefighter and was also a co-host of the same event.

The political fundraiser that both co-hosted was held on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM at the Phoenix home of Sal Rivera.  Suggested contributions ranged from $500 for a “Contributor” to $50 for a “Guest.”

Fact 1: The Hatch Act defines “covered employees” on the local level as those whose departments receive federal loans and grants and/or state agency loans or grants.

Fact 2: Both fire departments of the city of Glendale and the city of Phoenix have received numerous federal loans and grants.

Fact 3: Glendale firefighter Danny Valenzuela is a covered employee.

Fact 4: Phoenix firefighter Sammy Chavira is a covered employee.

Fact 5: Danny Valenzuela co-hosted a political fundraiser for Glendale mayoral candidate Mark Burdick.

Fact 6: Sammy Chavira co-hosted a political fundraiser for Glendale mayoral candidate Mark Burdick.

Therefore it is alleged that Valenzuela and Chavira are in violation of the Hatch Act.

It is the responsibility of the Glendale City Attorney and the Phoenix City Attorney to investigate and to corroborate these facts for the purpose of recommending disciplinary action. That action can range from a fine to termination of employment.

Neither of these men can hide behind the cover of their elected office as councilmembers. Their primary jobs have been as firefighters for many, many years long before they were elected to political office. Their elected positions are secondary occupations. Hopefully the voters will come to realize what an untenable position these men hold. If they want to be politicians, fine, but they should quit or retire as active city employees.

It is now up to the Glendale and Phoenix city attorneys to issue opinions regarding these alleged violations of the Hatch Act. Let us hope they do not whitewash these allegations in favor of their political bosses for councilmembers hire and fire City Attorneys. It is one of several positions, such as the City Manager, that are the direct hires of a city council. If these firefighters, covered employees, are found to be allowed to participate in local elections, it sets precedent for all city employees covered by the Hatch Act.

As for Sammy, it’s just another lapse in a long line of questionable ethical decisions he has made. Add it to the $25,000 of taxpayer money he spent on “fun” trips; the council meetings he has missed; and his lack of outreach to the people of the district he is supposed to represent.

It appears that both of these men are in violation of the Hatch Act but then again, I’m not a city attorney and certainly not well versed in the art of spinning a situation to make it go away for my boss. Whatever the determination it deserves a public announcement.

More questions about the Hatch Act and fire unions to come…

© 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.

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