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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

city hall 2

City Hall

On Tuesday, March 26, the Glendale City Council met in regular session. There were 29 agenda items. Based on previous meetings that I attended as a council member that is a pretty hefty agenda. Lo and behold! This council whipped through it in the record time of one hour! One could assume that it was because of their extreme efficiency but that would be an erroneous assumption. This is a council that questions nothing and comments even less. My first question would be, did any of them do their homework and actually read the material?

Coalition 1 photo

City Council minus
Councilwoman Alvarez

For example, Item 20 was an agreement to rebuild two refuse trucks. Not sexy at all. But one replacement truck costs about $500K. For half that price, roughly $250K two trucks are being rebuilt. This is an action never before taken by our Public Works department. You would think some on council would have thanked Mr. Stuart Kent, Executive Director of Public Works, for taking this proactive and innovative approach to city equipment, saving the city easily a half million dollars. Not a peep from this council. Just…nothing. Amazing.

westgate 1There was approval of an agreement with the current Westgate owners for sidewalks, shade canopies, etc. between Tanger Outlet and the rest of Westgate. No one on council took the time to thank the owners for their efforts and financial participation in this public-private partnership. No one asked about implementation of a “HAWK” system for pedestrians trying to cross 95th Avenue to get to Westgate. There is a “HAWK” in use on Glendale Avenue at about 66th Avenue. It allows the pedestrian to push a button which causes a yellow light to flash followed by a red light to stop all vehicular traffic. It allows the pedestrian to cross a busy street safely by stopping all vehicular traffic in both directions. Wouldn’t this be a wonderful addition to move pedestrian traffic between Tanger and the rest of Westgate? Before I left council I was advocating such a strategy. Sadly, no one took up the cause.

There were four items that you would think would have engendered at least minimal questioning or comment.  Two were awards of contracts. One was Item #16 to Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally in the amount of $200,000 for an external city audit and the other was Item #21 to Beacon Sports in the amount of $100,000 for issuance of an RFP and handling of negotiations with possible arena managers. There was not one question. There was not one comment. There was no discussion whatsoever. Could ‘a been a day in the park. Not one word to the general public about either contract’s terms, scope, time frame, or justification for cost. Just…nothing.


Horatio Skeete


Dick Bowers

The other two items were just as astounding.  Item #26 was termination of Horatio Skeete as Interim City Manager and demotion back to Assistant City Manager. Not a “thank you.” Not a word of recognition for the good things he had done for the city. Not even a comment from Mayor Weiers saying “that council was moving in a new direction.” Just…nothing. In the next action, Item #27, council appointed Dick Bowers as Interim City Manager. Not a word about his background, expertise or experience. Just…nothing. Item #28 was tabled by staff and signals that council has not come to terms with Mr. Tindall on what he will receive financially upon his termination. That did not slow up this council for one minute as they approved Nick Dipiazza as Interim City Attorney in Item #29. Just…nothing.

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

Once again Councilmember Alvarez was AWOL. How many times has it been? Also worth noting (and I may have missed it as I watched dumbfounded by this council) was the lack of a vote by council to approve her absence.  Did she not want to be on record as a yea or nay vote on the Beacon Sports contract or has she injured herself again? For the third or fourth time? Her lack of representation of the interests of ALL (not just a selected demographic) of the people of her district is being noted by many.


Mayor Weiers

Mayor Weiers “good ole boy” public persona is beginning to wear thin as he fancies himself a “deal maker” behind the scenes. Latest word on the street with regard to Coyotes ownership is that nobody is in charge (except for Beacon Sports as of today for a $100,000 fee). Possible owners are speaking directly to various councilmembers to encourage them to champion their proposal. What a way to set up internal warfare.

Of course, the carpetbaggers, Andrew and Darcy Marwick, residents of Phoenix were in attendance. Some people (not I) refer to them as “Dumb and Dumber.” Mr. Marwick took the occasion of approval of the agreement with the Westgate owners to once again denigrate the actions of the previous council in “propping up” a failed Westgate. I would imagine he could opine on any subject (as he often does) and claim its failure is due to the previous council.

Lastly, when was the last time there was no citizen comment at the end of a council meeting? I would venture to say,convention 2 probably 4 years. If the past council had voted to approve the Beacon Sports contract, I dare say Ken Jones and half dozen others would have been railing against such a vote. No Jones, no Thruston, no Dempskey- no usual cast of wacky characters- to accuse this council of throwing good money after bad by approving Beacon Sports. This time just…nothing.

transparentThe new buzz word in government is “transparency.” We all know what it means; the ability to see through something without any kind of blockage. Transparency has to do with disclosure. It means providing information about an issue, event, project, policy, program etc. and then providing a way for people to find and view that information. This council proved tonight that transparency is not a meaningful part of its agenda.

I prefer to call this council, the “Opaque Council” (The OC). Something is opaque when you cannot see through it. Theopaque action is characterized as hard to understand because it is not clear or is obscured by the deliberate misuse of language or inaction. It also has a secondary meaning, which is being dull, stupid or unintelligent. I leave it to you, dear reader, to choose which definition of opaque is more relevant and meaningful to you.




Horatio Skeete

Yesterday I related sources who indicated that Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete would be resigning. Today I received more accurate information and that is that while Mr. Skeete will no longer be Interim City Manager he will stay with the organization and resume his role as Assistant City Manager.

Who will be the new Interim City Manager? Only the shadow…er, the city council knows…and maybe they haven’t made up their minds yet. So I will throw my speculation into the confusion that exists right now. I question 3would not choose anyone from inside the current organization.  I would hope that this council will not do so either. For them, it’s a case of paranoia. I don’t think they trust anyone inside the organization to provide them with their perceived and long-awaited version of the truth on any subject. It has been rumored for quite some time that this council would do major house cleaning of upper management. There has even been talk of offering a vastly different compensation package to anyone willing to step into this mess and take on the role of permanent City Manager. Expect internal warfare over the final selection of a new City Manager. Let’s hope that once that person is chosen, they can forget their differences and solidify around the selection.

I would choose someone from outside because it would help to foster an atmosphere of impartiality and remove the necessity of taking sides within the organization.

confusion 2Looking outside I don’t see a lot of choices with City Manager experience. I would consider Dr. Martin Vanacour or Richard Bowers.  Dr. Vanacour was Assistant City Manager of Glendale from 1970 to 1985 and then its City Manager from 1985 to 2002. He is experienced, knowledgeable, and certainly well versed in Glendale issues. Since his departure from the city he has been consulting and teaching. Another very viable candidate is Mr. Bowers. He was Assistant City Manager in Scottsdale from 1981 to 1991 and then its City Manager from 1991 to 2000. He has performed various consulting jobs for the past and present council. He, too, has been consulting and teaching.

The City of Glendale would be well served to have either one of these gentlemen as its Interim City Manager for several months until a permanent person is chosen for the position  Either one would bring stability and a sense of impartiality to an otherwise chaotic city management group.


Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall

Glendale City Attorney
Craig Tindall

On Tuesday, February 26, 2013, the City Council held an Executive session for the express purpose of meeting with and discussing the performance of Craig Tindall, City Attorney. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall!

As with all E sessions we will never know exactly what took place and what was said. We do know that Tindall agreed orally to tender his resignation and we now await his formal letter of same. I suspect in the coming days leaks will pour from the City. It’s happened many times in the past and I expect it to occur this time.


Mayor Weiers

Mayor Weiers announced that he had asked for Tindall’s resignation and today the Arizona Republic reported Weiers “citing a need to move in a different, more business-friendly, direction.” Weiers is trying to position himself as a strong mayor. Don’t be fooled. In Glendale the City Charter has established a Mayor-Manager form of government. It still takes four votes, or a majority, of the City Council to issue policy or to take any action, including that of asking the City Attorney for his resignation.  As much as Mayor Weiers would like to wave his scepter and make unilateral policy, he still needs to gather 3 more supporters from those pesky councilmembers.

Martinez Knaack Sherwood


Coalitions are forming among the City Council and their outlines are beginning to emerge. In the same news article, the Arizona Republic quoted Vice Mayor Knaack as saying, “Seriously, I’m going to cry.” One can read into that statement that the Vice Mayor was probably not in the coalition to boot Tindall out. It went on to quote Councilmember Gary Sherwood, “What I don’t like are the people who wanted him to be gone hiding behind a veil that said we’re going a different direction.” Hmmm…don’t think Sherwood was in favor of getting rid of Tindall either. Can we add anyone else to this emerging coalition? How about Councilmember Martinez? It’s no secret that he and Councilmember Alvarez have often clashed publicly. So Coalition #1 is comprised of Knaack, Sherwood and Martinez.

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

Hugh Chavira

Ian Hugh, Sam Chavira

Coalition #2, almost by default, is Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira. Make no mistake; Councilmember Alvarez is leading this coalition’s parade. Councilmembers Hugh and Chavira owe Alvarez for her marshaling of support for their successful runs, especially from the Tohono O’odham. Norma has said that Tindall “disrespected” her publicly. Why? Because he didn’t give her answers/opinions that supported her statements or her agenda? Which leads one to surmise that if one doesn’t support her point of view or agenda then one is being “disrespectful.”

What then about Mayor Weiers? Right now he’s in the catbird seat. Pick any issue and right now he has the luxury of jumping from one side to the other. He also has the luxury of furthering the animosity that already exists between the two coalitions. He can play both sides against the middle. Wow! All this from a guy who said he was a fence-mender and would work to create harmony on council.

I think what disturbs me about the situation as it played out is the absence of professionalism and the sense of urgency. Why? In four months Tindall would have faced his annual performance review by Council.  That time would have been appropriate for a parting of the ways and the avoidance of embarrassment to a Council appointed employee. Tindall, no matter your opinion of him, served this city for 12, almost 13 years and earned professional action regarding his employment.

I suspect the other Council appointed officials still standing, namely the Interim City Manager and the City Clerk, should be forewarned. A house cleaning appears to be occurring. Why only clean half your house when you can do it all?