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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.

As I’ve remarked previously, due to the COVID pandemic this has been one of the strangest campaigns I’ve had. People must wear masks and socially distance. Bars and gyms are still not open. Tubing on the Salt River, a long-held, dearly loved outdoor activity is not allowed. The traditional, annual Glendale Women’s Club candidate forum was cancelled. Going door to door was frowned upon. Holding a campaign event was impossible. The life blood of a political campaign is reaching out to as many voters as possible in person. That was not to be.

How does a candidate campaign in this environment? Everyone is going digital and using the internet. Major candidates are running TV ads but the cost is prohibitive for a local council race. I think more mailers have been used in this campaign than in any previous one. By my count and I’m not sure I acquired all of them, at least 30 mailers from the 2 contested races—mayoral and Yucca council seat—hit your mailboxes. I estimate their collective value at about $65,000. In addition, the fire union dropped 2 door hangers for Robertson and 1 door hanger for Alexander, representing another estimated $5,000 and that does not include the manpower used by the union to deliver them. Add the cost of political consultants, polling, digital advertising, campaign signs and the expenses become even more significant. This may turn out to be the most expensive campaign cycle that Glendale has ever had.

I did note one very strange set of campaign finance reports – those of Corey Bowen. Mr. Bowen filed a statement of campaign committee organization on September 9, 2019. Candidates’ nominating petitions were filed at the end of March, 2020. Mr. Bowen never submitted nominating petitions and was therefore out of the Yucca council race at the end of March, 2020.

In his first campaign finance report filed on January 1, 2020 which reported financial activity through December 31, 2019, Mr. Bowen reported contributions of $2,950.00 and expenditures of $1,086.42 leaving him with a balance of $1,853.58. In his second report covering the period through March 31, 2020, he spent $266.51 leaving him a balance of $1,596.82. Here’s where it gets strange. By the end of March, 2020, he and we know he is not on the ballot and is no longer a candidate for the Yucca council seat.

In his next campaign finance report covering through June 30, 2020, Mr. Bowen spent another $828.29 as if he were still a viable candidate:

  • On 5/21/2020 $98.01 to Lyft for “campaign transportation.”
  • On 6/1/2020 another $53.01 went to Lyft for “campaign transportation.”
  • On 5/2/2050(sic) he spent $491.28 to WalMart for “campaign event supplies.”
  • On 6/1/2020 he spent another $255.99 at WalMart for “canvassing supplies.”

In his last campaign filing report covering through July 18, 2020, he continues to spend $658.89 as if he were a viable candidate:

  • On 7/2/2020 $56.50 to Lyft for “campaign transportation.”
  • On 7/13/2020 $42.01 to Lyft for “campaign transportation.”
  • On 7/2/2020 he spent another $226.89 to WalMart for “campaign event supplies.”
  • On 6/1/2020 to WalMart $33.49 for “canvassing supplies.”
  • On 7/03/2020 to Adelina’s wedding venue for $300.00 for “campaign event venue.”

Mr. Bowen, the non-candidate for the Yucca district council seat, now has a balance in his campaign committee account of $39.62. How can this be? How could he spend over $1,500 for campaign expenses when he is not on the ballot? It’s not the amount of money spent but the principle involved. I know that some of the readers of this blog work in the Maricopa County Attorney General’s Office. I would hope one of them would bring this to the attention of the Attorney General.

In my race with my opponent, I ask you, the voter, to consider several issues. He has declared himself to be a Democrat. Part of the Democrat agenda is to “defund the police” or at the very least, reprioritize police expenditures. That seems to be a nice euphemism for saying defund them. In his campaign material he says, “…we need to reduce the tax burden on each citizen…” One way to reduce that burden is to reduce or reprioritize police funding. How could the two police unions support this man when this is part of his agenda?

My opponent’s major support comes from the fire union. As I’ve stated previously, they poured money into his campaign with signs, a mailer and a door hanger, not because he’s an outstanding candidate but because of the mere fact that he is my opponent. I did a blog on union release time and the fact that city council eliminated one of two union release time positions for fire and police. This action angered them to the point where they would have supported cardboard cutouts of candidates in opposition to the Mayor and myself.

Most disturbing is his Facebook comment, “I get a special feeling when I see my name in print.” This is an unusual remark to make. It seems my opponent is in this race to become more recognized, more important within our community. That’s not a valid reason to run.

Keep in mind I took him to court to challenge the validity of his nominating petition signatures. I produced witnesses, registered Yucca district voters, who swore that it was not he who witnessed their signatures on his nominating petitions. My opponent never went to court and swore on a Bible (remember he’s an Associate Pastor) that it was indeed he who witnessed those signatures.

Lastly, my opponent is cerebral, a thinker…not a doer. His entire platform is comprised of initiatives I have done or I am currently doing. He offers no new ideas. I have a proven record of successful performance. I get things done. I have helped countless Yucca residents to resolve problems. I am accessible and take calls and texts from residents all the time. I have been there when you needed help.

My opponent’s motive for running is questionable. I will always harbor doubt about his nominating petitions and their validity. He has not contributed to the life of our district or community. His only support comes primarily from the fire union and I think it’s fair to assume he will support their extensive agenda. He has offered no new initiative that you can support or would be excited about. He really is a cardboard candidate.

The big gorilla in this race is the mayoral contest. There’s an old saying, “the past is prologue.” That means the past will inevitably be repeated. That certainly raises concerns with regard to the mayoral opponent Robertson. We know from publicly available records she accused her ex-husband of sexual molestation of their daughter and the court found her accusation to be invalid. We know that she accused the former Chief Financial Officer of the Cartwright District of sexual harassment. From her publicly available emails it appears that it was she who encouraged a mutually sexually charged relationship. I was disturbed to see the email photo of her breasts that she sent to him with reference to “the girls are oiled up.” Now that is disgusting.

Her scrubbing of her Facebook past demonstrating those causes she supports including “Black Lives Matter” should give you pause for concern. Her action appears to be intentional with the removal of controversial issues.

Another issue for your consideration is her commitment to retain her current job at the Cartwright School District while trying to be mayor. I, as a councilmember, can confirm that it is a full time job to serve and the mayor’s position is exactly the same. Promising to be a part time mayor does a disservice to every Glendale resident.

Again, the unions in their haste to back any opponent for mayor either did not vet this candidate or did and chose to ignore what they discovered. Either way, it screams of a naked power grab to run the City of Glendale to their advantage.

Having worked with the current mayor I know that the allegations the unions made against him are not true. It’s a tried and true tactic to take a snippet of fact and twist it until your opponent appears to be a monster. The fire union is very good at it.

Remember how you could go to your local polling location? It might be a school like Desert Mirage Elementary School or a church like Faith Baptist Church. No more. Thanks to COVID, this time you have a choice of five “Voting Centers” in Glendale.

For the August Primary Election, Maricopa County voters can cast a ballot at any Vote Center. Locations are open from July 8-August 4, including some nights and weekends. All Vote Centers listed are open on Election Day:

  • Arrowhead Mall 8/1/2020 Open 11am to 7pm; 8/2/2020 Open 12pm to 5pm; 8/3/2020 Open 11am to 5pm and 8/4/2020 Open 6am to 7pm.
  • ASU West Campus 8/1/2020 Closed; 8/2/2020 Closed; 8/3/2020 Open 8am to 5pm; 8/4/2020 Open 6am to 7pm.
  • Glendale Market Square 8/1/2020 Open 9am to 7pm; 8/2/2020 Open 12pm to 5pm; 8/3/2020 Open 9am to 5pm; 8/4/2020 Open 6am to 7pm.
  • Glendale Civic Center 8/1/2020 Open 7:30am to 6:30pm; 8/2/2020 Closed; 8/3/2020 Open 7:30am to 5pm; 8/4/2020 Open 6am to 7pm.
  • Glendale Christian Church 8/1/2020 Closed; 8/2/2020 Closed; 8/3/2020 Closed; 8/4/2020 Open 6am to 7pm.

You can drop off your ballot or vote in person on the days and times that these 5 Glendale locations are open. I can’t see how this scheme aids people in avoiding COVID but it’s the system that will be used on August 4th.

No matter what you do – drop off your ballot or vote in person, I urge you to vote on August 4th. Your vote matters…your vote counts.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

I ran across this Arizona Republic article online regarding Michelle Robertson. I make no comment. This is something you will have to judge for yourself. As a voter in Glendale all information offered is valuable to make an educated decision regarding your vote.

Here is the link to the article despite my replicating it in full below.  https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2020/07/16/conflicting-allegations-michelle-robertson-roil-glendale-mayoral-race/5443509002/

Conflicting allegations involving Michelle Robertson roil Glendale’s mayoral race

Lily Altavena,Joshua Bowling, Arizona Republic, July 16, 2020

A Glendale mayoral candidate last year accused a co-worker of sexual misconduct. Now, the man says he was falsely accused.

Michelle Robertson, a longtime Glendale resident who is running on the Aug. 4 ballot against incumbent Mayor Jerry Weiers, claims she was sexually harassed by the Cartwright School District’s former chief financial officer.

Zeek Ojeh, the CFO, in a notice of claim filed against the district in March, contends Robertson falsely accused him as part of a broader scheme to oust him for exposing potential corruption in the district.

“This is a classic whistleblower case,” Alden Thomas, an attorney for Ojeh, said. “We are confident Mr. Ojeh will prevail. The district failed to respond to our notice of claim, so we will be proceeding with litigation.” 

Robertson called Ojeh’s claim baseless. Her original complaint to the district in September accuses Ojeh of multiple instances of sexual harassment and misconduct. 

“No means no. It’s a very clear statement,” she said. “I could not stop crying. I thought, ‘This has got to stop.'”

Ojeh’s claim includes screenshots of text messages allegedly from Robertson, a district employee, to Ojeh that contain explicit photos and messages. The claim alleges that Robertson “relentlessly pursued” Ojeh. 

Robertson told The Arizona Republic that she has not seen the notice of claim Ojeh filed with the school district. She said Ojeh harassed and assaulted her.

She said she never harassed Ojeh.

“I did not sexually harass this man,” she said. “We had a friendship, but we had a very clear understanding of boundaries; physical boundaries and things like that. There would be months where we didn’t talk on a personal level.”

Robertson was born in Tucson and moved to Glendale as a teenager. She ran for Maricopa County superintendent in 2016 and has participated in local override and candidate campaigns.

In the course of her campaign, Robertson has raised nearly $53,000, according to campaign finance records. Weiers has raised more than $233,000.

$1.5 million phone contract 

Ojeh in his claim states that he wanted to make sure he was saving the district money when possible. 

In July 2019, LeeAnn Aguilar-Lawlor, Cartwright’s superintendent, told Ojeh that she and three school board members wanted to award a $1,475,000 contract to Mitel, a communications company, to replace the district’s phone system, according to the claim.

Specifically, she wanted the contract to go through a particular Mitel dealer, the claim states.

Ojeh asked why, according to the claim, and Lawlor said he should do what he’s told. The claim adds that “several board members were in favor of this contract because they were friends” with the Mitel dealer. 

In an email attached to the notice of claim, Ojeh wrote to Lawlor in August 2019 that two other vendors could provide new phone systems for $500,000 to $600,000, half the price of a contract with Mitel. 

Ojeh then asked district attorneys to weigh in. They wrote that the district would not be complying with state procurement law if it did not participate in a competitive bidding process.

The contract did not go through. 

District spokeswoman Veronica Sanchez said the superintendent and board followed the law and did not insist on Mitel.

“The district superintendent did not insist on switching phone contracts,” she wrote. “Alternate phone contract options were presented to the governing board at the request of the governing board.”

Accusations of a sexual nature 

A month after the dust-up over the contract, Ojeh states in the claim, Lawlor told him there had been a “credible complaint of a sexual nature” made against him. She provided him a letter informing him he would be reassigned to work from home. 

His accuser was Robertson, a former teacher and current Cartwright human resources employee.

Robertson alleged that Ojeh assaulted and harassed her multiple times by taking her hand and forcing her to grab his genitals, kissing her without her consent, playing footsie under a table during a meeting and sending cards and gifts to her home without ever asking for her address.

The district received recordings of a conversation between Robertson and Ojeh in September 2019 and began investigating, according to Sanchez. 

In the recordings, Robertson appears to confront Ojeh in a phone conversation about kissing her at work.

“The boundary was no kissing me at work, and we hadn’t had a physical relationship outside of work,” she says in the recording. “Why did you cross the boundary?” 

Ojeh responds, “I don’t know what to tell you. I really don’t know what to say there.” 

In the recording, Robertson describes an interaction where he kissed her after a meeting. She asks if he remembered putting her hand on his genitals.

He responds and  “If I did, it was an involuntary action … It wasn’t like I planned to do that.”

Ojeh in the notice of claim denies sexually harassing Robertson. Ojeh said he had a consensual flirtatious relationship with Robertson, but the two were never physically intimate.

According to Ojeh’s claim, he saved text messages from Robertson. Screenshots of texts provided blur Ojeh’s messages and only show what Robertson allegedly wrote.

In one, dated in 2017, she texts, “We should be dating. Are you attracted in that way to me?”

In a set of texts in the claim dated February 2019, before Robertson complained to the district, Robertson allegedly writes, “This is serious. I’d like to provide an opportunity for you to address and clear things up. You can call tonight or tomorrow.”

Robertson in her complaint alleged that Ojeh had confronted her in the district office’s parking lot. She alleged that she later texted him because she wanted to establish clearer boundaries. 

An attorney for Ojeh wrote that in February 2019 he had asked her to stop contacting him over personal matters “and that he was not interested in an intimate relationship.”  

Ojeh informed the district in September 2019 in a letter through his attorneys that he would not seek contract renewal.

Ojeh in his claim alleges he is suffering emotional distress for being a whistleblower and is asking for $750,000. 

Reach the reporter at Lily.Altavena@ArizonaRepublic.com or follow her on Twitter @LilyAlta.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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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