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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.

I often find that I no longer have the time to write. I confess I miss not being able to write several times a week. My city council job, which I love, is now a full time but for this evening, I am caught up. I have already done my ‘homework’ for this Tuesday’s city council workshop and voting meeting. That, of course, doesn’t mean that there aren’t things on my ‘to do’ list. I will spend part of this week reading “A Report on EMS Field Experiments” and read the sign codes from Peoria and Surprise in preparation for my Council Business Committee meeting. There is always more to read, more ‘homework’ to do, more events to attend and endless meetings…with council, with staff and with constituents about an issue or developers with another new project to consider.

Right now council is deep in the belly of budget season. Council started its budget meetings in March and just this past week had 2 all day budget meetings. Staff prepared a proposed budget for council’s consideration and we review every element within it. The old adage that “money is power” still rings true in government today whether it’s local government or the federal government. He who controls the purse strings wields the power. Budget is a season of the tug and pulls between staff, continually seeking more funding for its projects or personnel, and that of council with its own set of priorities. It’s never a fierce issue when the economy is bad and there isn’t discretionary funding. When the economy is healthy, as it is now, polite but intense warfare ensues.

One of the priorities for me for the past two years has been the implementation of a dedicated council assistant for each councilmember. For several years the council office has been on a     3-2-1 model meaning that there are 3 council assistants, each of whom staff 2 councilmembers; 2 ‘rovers’, each of whom takes direction (often confusing and without identification of priority) from the 3 council assistants; and 1 secretary.

There is a litany of reasons why this model does not work. One of the results has been that long term projects and research on topics are shelved simply because of the need for a council assistant to meet the daily tasks of the two councilmembers being staffed. Often the council assistant’s work time for each councilmember is uneven as one councilmember’s needs may, and often does, take priority.

This budget year I have requested that the full time employee (FTE) position that council gave up voluntarily last year to partially cover the costs associated with implementing the School Resource Officer (SRO) program be restored. By adding that one FTE, converting the 2 ‘rover’ and 1 secretary position to council assistant positions will finally allow for one council assistant to serve one councilmember. Because of the State Open Meeting Law restrictions I have only been able to discuss this issue with 2 other councilmembers. If I were to talk to 3 councilmembers in a private setting it would constitute a majority of council. It is a violation to establish consensus of the majority without the benefit of a public meeting. The 2 councilmembers with which I have discussed the issue share my belief that we need dedicated council assistants. However, 4 councilmembers are needed to give staff policy direction. I am hopeful that when this issue is discussed at our next budget meeting on April 30th there is a 4th councilmember that will support this initiative.

It’s a delicate dance because by charter, council’s role is policy making and staff’s role is to administer policy and their role includes managing personnel. However, it is within council’s purview to direct senior management, as a matter of policy, to staff each councilmember with an assistant. It then becomes staff’s responsibility to carry out this policy. As salaried employees each council assistant is ultimately managed by the city manager in his role as CEO of all employees within the organization.  

In an acknowledgment of zero based budgeting each year council receives a detailed report on two selected departments. This year it was the Budget and Finance Department and the Information and Technology Department. I find the detail very helpful and informative but I would appreciate it if they were not the last two departments to be discussed at the end of two very long days.

Other things…there are some members if the public that do not like our City Manager, Kevin Phelps. The reasons are many and varied…some reasons may be valid…from their respective perspectives. I do like and appreciate our City Manager. I have served with quite a few…Dr. Martin Vanacour, Ed Beasley, Dick Bowers, Interim Horatio Skeete and now Kevin Phelps. The only one with which I never served is Brenda Fischer and for that I am extremely grateful. The one who stands out above all is Marty Vanacour but Kevin Phelps runs a close second. No one is perfect…certainly not me…and certainly not any of Glendale’s City Managers. Kevin Phelps took a city on the verge of bankruptcy and implemented policies that have made Glendale financially healthy once again. He is a man driven to make Glendale prosper and to make it a vibrant job center for Glendale residents. Along the way he has had a few missteps but generally he has been good for Glendale.

His past experience in Washington State includes running a major convention center, experience as an auditor as well as experience as an appointed and elected official. He retains my vote of confidence and I hope he will stay on for several more years and continue to ‘make Glendale great again’.

The West Branch Library at Heroes Park at the northeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road is nearly ready to open. Look for it to open to the public in mid-May. As soon as the date for the Grand Opening is finalized I will announce it on social media. It’s been 20 years since the branch library first appeared in Glendale’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). An entire generation of children in the Yucca district has grown up without the benefit of a nearby library.  I have no doubt that this branch library will be extremely popular and statistics about its use will far surpass any staff estimates.

Library staff will start preparing for the opening by having library furniture and shelving delivered today. The digital sign at the park alongside 83rd Avenue funded from my city council budget (taxpayer funds) has been installed and is functional. The first major message that the public will see on the sign will be the announcement of the library’s grand opening date. It will be used to announce district and city-wide events. Look for a Yucca district meeting to be held at the library toward the end of May or beginning of June. The date of the Yucca district meeting will be advertised on our new digital sign.

The next Heroes Park element to be developed is the water feature. Funding is secured (once the budget is approved) for the design of the water feature. It is my intent to request funding for its construction in the following fiscal year. There is still much to be done at the park but by taking one bite of the apple at a time, I have no doubt it will be completed.

So much is happening in Glendale and most of it is positive. While the economy is good and we reconstitute our rainy day fund, there are opportunities to not only bring new amenities to Glendale’s residents but to improve the look and feel of Glendale (neglected for years because of a poor economy). Glendale is on the move! Look for more great  things in its future and yours.

© 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

It has been 17 years and 171 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I have not only read Glendale’s motion but printed it out. Here is the link if you wish to read the motion: City of Glendale motion June 18 2015 . I have read and reread the motion several times. I suggest that you pay particular attention to the footnotes. In some aspects they are as revelatory as the emails provided in the brief.

Glendale could not have chosen a better attorney to represent its interests in its decision to cancel its contract with IceArizona and subsequent litigation. Here is a link to Cynthia Ricketts’ biography: http://sacksrickettscase.com/our-team/cynthia-a-ricketts/ . She is well respected by her peers and has extensive expertise in the area of litigation that the city requires.

If you noted in state statute A.R.S. § 38-511 it refers to any person “significantly involved in initiating, negotiating, securing, drafting or creating of documents.” Many have focused on the word “negotiating” especially with reference to Julie Frisoni. Please go to Frisoni’s PR website (http://www.frisonipr.com/whoweare/). This is a direct quote from her site, “Crisis communications, including NHL Coyotes negotiations and the near bankruptcy of a city.” It appears that Ms. Frisoni can’t have it both ways. There seems to be a conflict (no pun intended) between her claim on her website citing experience in “NHL Coyotes negotiations” and her recent public denials that she was merely a Communications Director.

Based upon my personal experience as a councilmember from 2000 through 2012 Ms. Frisoni was a close confidant of Ed Beasley, former City Manager, and Craig Tindall, former City Attorney. I did not have a great deal of interaction with Ms. Frisoni for I lacked trust in her. While she may or may not have had a hand in direct, face-to-face negotiations of the currently cancelled contract it appears quite evident that she played an essential role in securing (and insuring) council approval of the contract.

Prior to the contract’s approval by city council, on June 26, 2013, she sent talking points in support of the contract to Councilmember Chavira. In fact, Councilmember Chavira, one of only 2 council votes (the other being Sherwood) that did not support the recent vote to cancel the contract, is using many of those same talking points in his current Glendale Today show on Glendale’s Channel 11. Frisoni also sent an email on June 30, 2013, to the four councilmembers in support of the contract with IceArizona: Councilmembers Sherwood, Chavira, Knaack and Martinez. She seems to have deliberately omitted those that did not support it. In that email she passes on Jeff Teetsel’s (Westgate manager) arguments supporting passage of the contract.

I am quite unhappy with the alleged actions of former city attorney Craig Tindall. When city council originally hired him I was quite pleased. He appeared to be competent and articulate. In 2011 I began to hear rumors that he was supportive of an outside group interested in buying the Coyotes. Back then no one could or would tell me who the group was. Reading the emails between him and Anthony LeBlanc, one of the current Coyotes owners, I was unaware of their obviously close relationship dating back to at least 2010.  Little did anyone know they were meeting at their “usual starbucks.” It is now very difficult to accept the current parsing of words in an effort to minimize Tindall’s involvement in negotiating the IceArizona contract. It appears he was involved up to his lips.

It made me recall an incident at the end of 2012. The city was in the process of negotiation with a Coyotes team purchaser, Greg Jamison. I called Mr. Tindall with some technical questions about the deal. Cryptically, at the end of our telephonic conversation he remarked that if the Jamison deal didn’t make there was another group waiting in the wings. When I asked who, he refused to respond. In hindsight it now makes perfect sense but it raises more questions for me. I remember Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete telling me that Tindall appeared to be stalling and would hold Jamison documents on his desk for days. Skeete would make repeated requests for them which eventually would be fulfilled. Did Tindall deliberately sabotage the Jamison deal in an attempt to make available the opportunity for LeBlanc, et. al.? I honestly don’t know. You will have to decide for yourselves.

Tindall’s seeming self dealing is quite disappointing. As far back as April of 2010 in an email exchange between Daryl Jones of Ice Edge (precursor to IceArizona) Jones says they enjoyed working with Tindall and Tindall responds with “Now that’s an offer.” Was that Tindall’s subtle signal that he was angling for a job with them? Who knows? You decide. Or what about Tindall’s March, 2011, email exchange with LeBlanc urging LeBlanc to take a look at investing in a local medical device company? That action would seem to reinforce the notion that they had a close relationship. Or how about LeBlanc’s asking Tindall in October of 2011 if it was time to have a “confidential chat with Ed” (Beasley) as well as an email exchange between Tindall and LeBlanc about LeBlanc’s May, 2010 meeting with Steve E(llman)? What were these all about? We now know that LeBlanc wanted to buy the Coyotes even before the Jamison offer. We now know through more emails of Tindall’s effort to break a roadblock on July 26, 2013 (after the contract is approved) regarding the city’s paying IceArizona’s lenders directly? He emailed the newly hired City Manager (now former City Manager) Brenda Fischer apparently asserting that it was a simple administrative matter and appears to be urging her to take action.

The email exchange between former Mayor Scruggs and former City Manager Beasley are revealing as well. It appears as if the mayor was determined to get LeBlanc’s Lakehead Yale Sports Holding LLC “Plan B” before the city council in March of 2012. Once again Tindall’s name comes up when she says, “I have checked with Craig Tindall and Mr. LeBlanc’s letter is eligible for discussion under the items as posted.” Tindall seemed to be advocating for any LeBlanc deal.

The emails provided in the city’s motion to modify the Temporary Restraining Order are troubling. They are facts. They are the words of the principals involved. They are damning and not easily explained away.

I end with excepts from an email memo to the entire city council dated June 25, 2013 (a few weeks before council approval) from then Interim City Manager Dick Bowers:

  • “Contrary to what might appear in the papers I don’t see this as a ‘done deal’. Far from it. Discussions continued over the weekend and we have come only slightly closer to comfortable than before. Gary B(irnbaum) has helped to illustrate to the Renaissance group’s (eventually IceArizona) attorney the concerns we have. I suspect this has given them a degree of discomfort.”
  • “Glendale cannot afford a failure. The potential of failure exists as a dark shadow in the absence of the investors standing by their own numbers with confidence enough to simply take them for themselves and do the deal for 6.5.”
  • “While there are many ways to describe the Renaissance’s reluctance I keep coming back to that same discomfort of Glendale having all the risk in this deal. My concerns could mean nothing or they could represent an existential question that must be considered. Will this work for the benefit of the City of Glendale and what makes us firmly believe that it will?”

Mr. Bowers’ crystal ball was certainly working that day yet a few weeks later, 4 councilmembers, Yvonne Knaack, Manny Martinez, Gary Sherwood and Sammy Chavira voted in favor of the IceArizona lease management deal. I can understand Sherwood and Chavira’s approval votes. They appear to have been blindly joined at the hip with each other as well as IceArizona. The pro votes of Knaack and Martinez are not so easily understood. Each cited the well being of Westgate as a motivator for their decisions. It is troubling that they appear to have put the well being of Westgate over the well being of the City of Glendale. Why did they not heed the words of Interim City Manager Bowers?

No matter. What’s done is done. The discovery of Tindall’s and Frisoni’s actions provide the city with an opportunity to rectify one source of its annual bleeding…whether one uses $15M or $8.7M a year as the loss figure for the city. Many point to the annual debt payment for the Camelback Ranch Spring Training Facility (CRSTF). They say why focus on the arena when CRSTF is just as much of a financial drain. It is. I suspect in due time that financial albatross will be addressed. Development that should have occurred surrounding this facility never materialized as a result of the national recession. Without any promise of current economic development it is an issue the city must address in light of the fact that this council continues to fail to rein in city expenditures.

The pity of it all is the devastation caused to the coaches and players of the Coyotes team. They have been through so much since Moyes declared bankruptcy in 2009. None of it was of their making. They have become undeserved collateral damage. I hope and pray that their futures will once again become whole and they can take pride in playing under the Coyotes banner.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

As we prepare to enter 2014 it’s a good time to look at the major issues Glendale will face. Here is Glendale’s Top Ten for 2014:

  1. The winner for the coming year is Glendale’s financial future. The City Manager and Executive Finance Director will offer a series of options, some critical, some not, to right the situation. Will the city council grow a backbone and adopt some stringent measures that are sure to be unpopular with the general public?
  2. Will IceArizona be able to deliver on its promise of enhanced arena revenues to recompense Glendale for its annual $15 million dollar management fee? The $15 million annual fee coupled with another $12 million in arena construction debt repayment contributes to Glendale’s heavy financial burden.
  3. The Camelback Ranch area has never delivered on its promise to perform. When the recession hit all development came to a screeching halt. Will the city create n incentive strategy for development of the surrounding area? Its annual $13 million dollar debt construction repayment is yet another major financial burden.
  4. Will the Attorney General’s office investigation into former City Manager Ed Beasley and deals cut with former financial consultant Art Lynch and former HR Director Alma Carmicle result in charges being filed?
  5. What impacts will the arrival of the first of 144 F-35 aircraft have on Luke Air Force Base, Glendale and the surrounding West Valley area?
  6. Will the Arizona Cardinals continue to seek its dream of a bubble tent practice facility on Glendale’s Youth Sports fields? What about their desire for Glendale’s long-promised parking garage as a means of fulfilling its parking requirements as vacant land diminishes at Westgate?
  7. Will the new City Manager Brenda Fischer continue to fire employees as her solution to any future irregularities? Will a new round of internal warfare erupt between police and fire over the severely constrained city revenue pot of money as her empathy toward fire (her husband is/was a firefighter in Henderson, Nevada) becomes more evident?
  8. With November, 2014 city election for councilmembers in the Cholla, Barrel and Ocotillo districts bring new faces and new agendas and another shake up in the fragile council coalitions?
  9. Will the temporary city sales tax increase become permanent as a solution to Glendale’s financial mess? How will citizens react to the broken promise of its sunset in 2017? Will citizens see increases in all kinds of local taxes while experiencing a decrease in the level of services provided?
  10. How will the city find the money to pay for its hosting of the Super Bowl in 2015? A figure of $1.7 million dollars is unrealistic and doesn’t equal the amount spent by Glendale on its last Super Bowl hosting gig.

Lastly there is the unknown. There is always a new, unforeseen crisis. What will it/they be for Glendale in 2014? Councilmembers will continue to combat and to abuse one another and all of us. The City Manager will continue to offer policies to strengthen her power and there is no one on council to guard against it. Departments such as police and fire will vie for shrinking resources. New players and power brokers will emerge. All that can be said with any degree of certainty is that it won’t be a dull year. Thank goodness there will be plenty of fodder for upcoming blogs!

© Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
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.

As a result of an external audit that cost Glendale in excess of a half million dollars four city personnel either resigned or were terminated. Diane Goke, Budget Director and Sherry Schurhammer, Executive Director of Finance resigned. Horatio Skeete, Assistant City Manager (at the time in question he was a Deputy and Pam Kavanaugh was Assistant City Manager) and Don Bolton, Assistant Financial Officer were terminated by newly hired City Manager Brenda Fischer.

In an Arizona Republic article of October 21, 2013 entitled Appeals board: Staying quiet wasn’t option for ex-Glendale bookkeeper City Manager Brenda Fischer said, “City employees are duty bound to find a way to speak up when warranted.” Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/community/glendale/articles/20131018appeals-board-staying-quiet-wasnt-option-for-exglendale-bookkeeper.html . She goes on to say, “Whether it’s going around the management, whether it’s going to the (Attorney General’s) Office anonymously. We had an ethics hotline. They could have anonymously informed the media, put some public pressure on it. They could have written letters to the editor. They could have — if they were uncomfortable being asked to do something inappropriate or illegal — they could have resigned from their employment.” Uh, excuse me but rarely, if ever, are anonymous complaints considered legitimate by the media or Attorney General’s Office and followed up. Since when is a whistle blower required to resign to report wrong doing within the organization?

She must of course be referring to a world peopled by Mother Theresa. Not the real Glendale world as it existed four years ago. There is no such thing as a perfect world, not then and not now – the one that Fischer apparently believes existed at the time. Fischer acted upon her lack of knowledge and her inability to understand a Glendale ruled by City Manager Beasley. She came in as the new City Manager and felt that she needed to make a point.

It was a time of pervasive “Big Brotherism.” If any city personnel had any kind of interaction with a councilmember they were required to report it and its content. Former Councilmember Lieberman’s and my Council Assistant, Perry Baker (now deceased), was terminated because he refused to follow that City Manager directive. It was a time when the atmosphere was heavy with fear and intimidation for all personnel.

 Mr. Skeete and Mr. Bolton graciously shared their submitted correspondence to the city regarding this matter. Mr. Bolton, on page 5 of his correspondence stated, “At this time I would also like to point out that the CM (City Manager) and the executive management team controlled what items were placed on Council agenda’s (sic). The CM and executive management team also performed extensive reviews of all council reports and could slide presentations brought forward by any department. Therefore, all information regarding what to include or not include in any Council presentation had to be reviewed by the CM and executive management team before it could be presented to Council. These CM and executive management team reviews also include multiple ‘dry runs’ where presenters were asked to rehearse their verbal presentations of the content being present to a presenter’s planned ed. It was not uncommon for the CM and executive management team to request modifications verbal and/or slide presentations or the council reports.”

That comment leads to a question long unanswered. Why were these four people targeted exclusively? We know part of the answer. Beasley, Kavanaugh, Tindall, Lynch and Carmicle had left the employ of the city. But other executive management team members stayed and are still there to this day. On page 2 of Gallagher & Kennedy correspondence representing Mr. Skeete it says, “…the City Manager’s Executive Team, including the City Attorney, discussed the ERP (Early Retirement Program) on numerous occasions over the course of several months in 2008-09. Any notion that the staff supposedly tried to hide the ERP from the City Attorney is flatly incorrect.” On page 3 of Mr. Bolton’s correspondence he states, “My email on Exhibit 6 (dated December 15, 2008 used in the external audit) explicitly states…’Sherry, here is the file I received from Craig (Tindall) for the retirement incentive’.” It can be assumed that City Attorney Tindall as part of the Executive Management Team knew of the ERP and its implications. Yet he did not speak up in 2008-09. Why did he wait until 2012 when he was vying with Mr. Skeete for the job of Interim City Manager?

Who were the other members of the Executive Management Team, what did they know and when did they know it? Julie Frisoni as the City’s spokesperson was undoubtedly part of the Executive Management Team and there are emails in the external audit that reflect her knowledge of the Early Retirement Program. Her emails asking for clarification of the factual financial information to be publicly released indicate that she had knowledge of the ERP. Why did she not say anything? According to now City Manager Fischer, she had an obligation to report — to the press, the Attorney General’s Office or the employee hotline. Yeah, right. Keeping quiet got her an appointment by Fischer as an Interim Assistant City Manager, as unqualified as she may be.

The sad part of all of this is that those who appear to be primarily responsible remain unscathed and those who did their bidding at their direction took the pipe. Is life unfair? We all know that it can be but it hits home when it happens to people you know.

Staying quiet in Glendale was an employee’s only option then and guess what? It hasn’t changed. Staying quiet in Glendale is a smart employee option today unless you believe in Fairy Godmothers or Santa Claus.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
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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