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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 April 26, 2019 Jen Fifield had a story in the Arizona Republic about Mayor Weiers’ trip to Norway and France.  Here is the link to the story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2019/04/26/heres-what-glendales-mayor-did-his-5-k-european-trip-taxpayers-dime/3562785002/ . There is so much about this story on which to comment.

The reporter, Jen Fifield, calls herself “a city watchdog reporter covering Surprise and Glendale.” Others call her a “muckraker.” This term is usually applied to journalists who intentionally write (for profit or personal gain) about alleged corruption of public officials. Take your pick…watchdog or muckraker?

Any story about any event or person is fair game for any reporter but the tone of an article can always be the subject of debate. Journalists always tout being fair and unbiased but often the words, especially descriptors, used in an article will reveal any bias. In addition, Fifield’s use of Mark Burdick, Weiers’ opponent in the last mayoral election, is suspect. Did she really expect Burdick to be unbiased on the issue? If your answer is ‘yes’, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. Another person, Yvonne Knaack, quoted by Fifield in her article, was an ardent Burdick supporter and who knows, may run for Mayor this time around.

The information chosen by the reporter to use with respect to the audit is also suspect. I believe this trip occurred in the summer of 2018 and the mayor reimbursed the city for his wife’s expenses in the fall of 2018. The audit occurred in the spring of 2019 with the auditor calling Weiers’ wife’s expenses as “disallowed” many months after the fact, even though the auditor knew that those expenses had been fully reimbursed many months earlier. The auditor’s use of the term “disallowed” implies that the action was purposefully illegal.

Fifield then refers to former Councilmember Chavira and cites his more than a dozen frivolous trips to Washington, D.C. at a taxpayer expense of over $25,000 during his term of office. Citing Chavira’s well known and notorious antics in a story about Weiers implies that Weiers is a bad actor like Chavira. That implication leads the reader to accept the bias in the article. Chavira abused the use of taxpayer funds repeatedly. Linking Weiers’ one trip to Chavira’s repeated abuses is certainly suspect in terms of bias.

To be clear, all members of the Glendale Sister Cities organization received the same blast email advertising the trip. All councilmembers who are members of the organization received it including me. I chose not to go for a variety of reasons both ethical and financial as I assumed I would be paying for my trip. Whether to go or not to go on any trip using taxpayer funds is a personal and ethical decision as a public official. For the hundred or so elected officials throughout this Valley, one could expect multiple decisions to go or not to go and to charge the city or not to charge the city as varied as the councilmembers themselves based upon each councilmember’s experience and standards. Some would have chosen to go considering it valid representation of a city. Others may not have chosen that option. There is no hard and fast rule in any city in this Valley. Should there be? You should be letting your elected officials know where you stand on this issue.

Did Mayor Weiers do something wrong and underhanded? That’s for you to decide. I have worked with him personally for the past several years and in my judgment that was the furthest thing from his mind. Having observed his actions he is a man who genuinely cares about Glendale and especially the least fortunate among us including our veterans’ community. His non-profit work is well known throughout the Valley.  This man would not deliberately cheat the taxpayers of Glendale. It was a decision Weiers chose to make in good faith. I would have made a different choice. Does that make him right and me wrong or vice versa? No.

I am not joined at the hip to Mayor Weiers. We have had our differences. The most important one to me was his vote in favor of Stonehaven while I was adamantly opposed. I see a distinct difference between Chavira who blatantly and repeatedly abused his office and Weiers one trip to Norway when he genuinely believed he was going as a representative of our city.

I am always concerned when we enter a political season. We are in one now for the 2020 election. It’s early I know but election cycles now seem to start almost immediately upon the completion of the previous election. This story appears to have been shared with the reporter in an attempt to bloody Weiers’ nose politically by linking him with Chavira’s abuses. This happens all the time and every politician is fair game during an electoral season but it is important that you, the reader, understand the context in which the story is framed.

© 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.

This Monday, Feb.25th, the city held a naming ceremony dedicating a portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals way. I was honored to be able to speak at this event. The following are the remarks I delivered.

“As you may or may not know, I can be a trivia nerd. So I decided to find out how Bethany Home Road got its name.  Some streets in the Valley received their names because of their location, such as Central Avenue or Baseline Road. Others honor local or nation historical figures such as Washington Street or Thomas Road. Yet others are tied to various landmarks such as Camelback Road or Indian School Road.

“Bethany Home Road got its name because it was a recognized landmark one hundred years ago. Bethany Home was a tuberculosis sanatorium started by the Missionary Church Association. Bethany Home was established in 1908 by the church and dedicated to God. It was a Christian home for the sick. But how did the Missionary Church come up with that name?  They did some of their missionary work in what is now Israel in Bethany , an ancient town near Jerusalem.

“We are here to celebrate the renaming of a portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way from 83rd Avenue to 99th Avenue. It’s hard to believe but the Cardinals played their first game in Glendale on August 12, 2006, 13 years ago. As a member of Glendale’s city council back then, I voted for its approval, participated by signing a beam during the stadium’s construction and was there for opening day. The stadium has become a landmark for the West Valley. It can be seen far and wide… from Peoria to Avondale.

“By renaming Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way we recognize and honor a major economic driver of not just my district, the Yucca district, or even Glendale and the West Valley but of the entire Phoenix Metro area.

“Without the partnerships of long time Glendale farming families like the Roveys and Pendergasts willing to sell their land and the vision and the persistence of Michael Bidwill there would be no stadium in the Yucca district of Glendale. It’s time…it’s way past time… to recognize those efforts.

“We honor the Bidwill family and the Cardinals by renaming this portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way. But there are added benefits for it also enhances the marketing and branding of this area of my district. There are no homes or businesses along this stretch of road but in the future there will be commercial entities who will acquire the cache of a Cardinals Way address.

“As Vice Mayor, I thank Michael Bidwill and the entire Bidwill family for their decision to make the Yucca district of Glendale their home. I am honored to be a participant in the celebration of the Cardinals Way street naming. Thirteen years ago a partnership was born. I look forward to many more years of mutual cooperation that has benefitted all.”

© 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 Tuesday, October 17, 2017 the Glendale city council met in workshop. The first agenda item of five items was that of light rail. Staff presented by recapping what had been discussed to date and asked for further council direction.

There was a robust discussion by council for well over an hour and a half. I will recap each councilmember’s position in the order of workshop seating. Councilmember Ray Malnar related that the original Glendale proposition ballot had 9 items, one of which was light rail. He believes that voter support for the proposition was based on support for 8 of the 9 ballot items and that voters approved the measure and tolerated light rail on the ballot because of the other items that would bring local transportation improvements. He indicated that he could not support light rail and asked for consensus on that position.

Councilmember Bart Turner is a strong and avid advocate for light rail. He attempted to refute any councilmember comments that offered reasons not to move forward with light rail. He feels that the financial figures presented showing a GO Program deficit and the use of General Fund dollars would not be accurate in the future and that the economic development created by light rail would offset those deficits. When it came time to create consensus he clearly wanted to move forward with light rail.

Vice Mayor Ian Hugh has never made a secret of his position on light rail. He has been opposed consistently.  He asked questions of Valley Metro’s CEO, Scott Smith, about pollution and congestion. The answers provided by Mr. Smith were vague as he could not really speak to the issue of pollution and answered the congestion question by stating that in Mesa light rail has caused vehicular traffic to find alternate routes and therefore he has not seen an increase in vehicular congestion. When consensus was called for, the Vice Mayor joined Councilmember Malnar to request that the light rail issue be discontinued in Glendale.

Mayor Weiers Indicated that at one time he had supported light rail as he believed that local connections in the form of trolleys, etc., would be able to connect with the end of the light rail line. However, having reviewed the financial forecast of dollar needs for light rail, he was reluctant to commit future dollars to light rail. He feels that Glendale is finally in a healthy financial position and does not want to jeopardize that success by committing future dollars that the city may not be in a position to afford.

Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff was clearly torn and on the fence. At one time she had indicated that her support of light rail would hinge on its ability to cross over Grand Avenue. Clearly, the dollars needed to accomplish that were astronomical and frankly unaffordable for Glendale. She did not want to dismiss light rail completely and asked that a decision by council be made after an upcoming council workshop on transportation in Glendale.  There was no support for delaying a decision on the issue. When the call for consensus on ceasing pursuit of light rail in Glendale I, quite honestly, did not see her indicate her position in support for or in opposition to light rail.

Councilmember Jamie Aldama, shared the same position as Councilmember Turner and was a strong advocate for light rail. He believes that light rail will spur downtown economic development. As the Mayor noted, Councimember Aldama was comfortable with his position on the issue as it did not impact LaMar Avenue, located one block south of Glendale Avenue and at one time was considered as a possible location for the light rail line. When it came time for consensus, Councilmember Aldama joined Councilmember Turner in continued support of light rail.

As last in line, I said that I was not ready to sacrifice Go Programming dollars and General Fund resources to pay for light rail. We have immediate needs that can be satisfied by releasing light rail dollars to other transportation needs. When it came time for consensus I joined Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh, and Councilmember Malnar in giving direction that council would no longer pursue light rail in Glendale.

On a 4 to 2 consensus with 1 unclear, city council has finally made a decision. Light rail will not come to Glendale…at least not anytime in the next 10 years. Light rail is dead.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

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 4th floor of City Hall is closed today, September 14th and Friday, September 15th. Staff has been relocated to other city facilities and senior staff and councilmembers’ meetings are off-site. This is a sole occurrence as the A/C for the 4th floor is being repaired.  Everything will return to normal on Monday.

My last blog was about what this councilmember’s activities consist. As a follow up I thought I’d share just two recent activities. I thought I’d flesh out just what these various events are about.

I received a call from a constituent, Mark Werber, inviting me to tour his business located in my district. Mr. Werber owns 3 Tots Unlimited facilities in Glendale and the one I toured is at 8311 W. Glendale Avenue. I didn’t know quite what to expect but I was pleasantly impressed. His facility is clean. Have you ever entered a facility and you could smell urine or something else equally unpleasant? Not so here. It was bright and warm feeling with virtually every wall covered with child-oriented artwork.

At any time there will be approximately 120 to 150 little ones. My favorite was the baby, six-week old and older unit. In every room that I entered the children were engaged in meaningful activities. The kitchen facility was spotless and the food being prepared for lunch was fresh and wholesome.

The little ones are so innocent and unbiased.  They are color blind. It’s a joy to spend time with them. They are curious about everything and they are funny to watch and to talk to. It’s a shame that as they get older the mantle of that child-like innocence is replaced by meaner attitudes.

Although the care provided is primarily for preschool there is also space for after school care for kids from 6 to 12. They can do homework, play games and get an afterschool snack. I spent about an hour touring and asking questions. I was impressed with the facility and would recommend it to the parents of the Yucca district looking for a safe and well run facility for their children.

As an aside, I met an old friend who now manages the facility – Bob Huffman’s granddaughter. Many of you probably don’t remember Bob Huffman. He was a Glendale councilmember when I took office back in 1992. Bob was always a champion for the underserved people of Glendale and well respected by all. The most ironic was that when Bob ran for councilmember for his last time against former Councilmember Goulette, he passed away during the campaign. Yet, even deceased he still won the election. Goulette was second in vote total and ended up with Bob’s seat.

Another event I attended recently was a ribbon cutting event in my district. Union Home Mortgage has established a branch office in Westgate. The firm has been around for 18 years and has branches throughout Arizona but this is their first branch in Glendale. I had the opportunity to meet Roseanna Diaz , Manager and Robert Fettier (sp??), Regional Sales Manager. One of my neighbors and a constituent, Fortunato Beltran, is a loan officer for the company and we had an opportunity to visit for awhile.

The Mayor and I attended and Councilmember Aldama arrived a bit later. Due to a previous commitment the Mayor spoke briefly. I then took up the torch and publicly welcomed Union Home Mortgage to our community representing Glendale. The message was Glendale and especially the Yucca district is booming. New businesses are locating in the Yucca district continually.

Lastly, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra will be at Glendale’s Gila River Arena in early December, 2017. I have FREE tickets to give away for the event. In order to participate for the drawing for the free tickets you must subscribe to my weekly Friday ENews Bulletin. Information for the drawing will be published in the bulletin every Friday in November. You must be a Yucca district resident to be eligible. You must be 18 years of age or older. Tickets are not for resale. Get the latest information about what’s happening in the Yucca District and the city of Glendale by visiting the Yucca Weekly Update page. Sign up to receive these newsletters via e-mail. Read more . Please go to this site to subscribe: https://www.glendaleaz.com/yucca/index.cfmGet the Yucca Weekly Update e-mail Bulletin.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

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.

Well, Sammy finally turned in his campaign finance report on October 3, 2016…late. Wonder if he was fined? Here is the link to his finance report: http://glendaleaz.com/Clerk/documents/Post-Primary-ChaviraforCouncil.pdf .

Sammy raised almost as much money as the two mayoral candidates as each mayoral candidate raised and spent in excess of $100,000. This report pegs him collecting $81,180.74 in contributions from special interests and unions outside of Glendale. His total spending to date is $74,301.74. I spent $11,489.70. Sammy, to date, outspent me 6 and a half times to one. He retains excess cash of $6878.27. How long will it take him to figure out a strategy that allows him to pocket that cash? Legally, a campaign committee may only make contributions to other candidates or committees or to non-profits. The excess funds are not to be spent personally.

As Sammy rides off into the sunset hopefully never to run for any office again, we wish him a fond farewell.

Even though I do not take office until December 13, 2016, I have begun to resume councilmember elect activities. I had been invited to attend a neighborhood annual picnic this past Sunday. I had a great time. I connected with residents who I had served previously and listened to their current concerns as well as issues important to them now. This week I will meet with developers on two upcoming residential zoning projects and attend a grand opening for a local business.

I attribute the result of my win to my previous constituent interactions. My campaign support came from individuals living within the Yucca district or within Glendale. To celebrate that win I am joining Mayor Jerry Weiers, Vice Mayor Ian Hugh, and Councilmember Ray Malnar in a victory party on October 21, 2016. To all those individuals who either donated to my campaign, made phone calls for me, walked for me, worked the polls or had yard signs, consider this personal invitation as a way to thank you for your support. I invite you to join all four of us in celebration. I, personally, am excited to be part of a team committed to moving Glendale forward. We ask that you RSVP by calling 623-939-4052 or emailing ianhugh2012@yahoo.com before October 14, 2016 so that we might have a count for food and refreshment purposes.

invitation-5

© 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.

Now that the election is over and the County Recorder has published the results, I am eager and excited to begin my work. The County Recorder’s Canvass of Votes may be approved by city council at a voting meeting as early as September13, 2016. That will be the final step. The swearing in ceremony for Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh, Councilmember Malnar and me, Councilmember Elect Joyce Clark, is scheduled for December 13, 2016 at 6 PM in City Council Chambers.

I am pleased to become a member of a city council that has made great strides in mitigating some of the city’s previous issues. Each of the current councilmembers brings positive attributes to the table. Mayor Weiers has a quiet confidence shown in his willingness to listen and to respect the points of view of all councilmembers. Vice Mayor Hugh exhibits the strength and perspective of historical Glendale. Councilmember Ray Malnar adds to the mix with his focus on fiscal accountability. Councilmembers Lauren Tolmachoff and Bart Turner have demonstrated their ability to ask questions of staff that often go to the heart of an issue.

These are good people who take their responsibilities very seriously. All are honest and ethical. Each has shown that their decisions are based upon what they believe to be the best for the citizens of Glendale. They may approach their decisions from different points of view but they are able to achieve consensus while respecting each other. I am excited to work with each and every one of them. I have no “axe to grind” with any of them and I would hope that it is mutual. Our slates are clean and yet to be written as we all work in mutual harmony to build productive working relationships while continuing to move Glendale forward.  

My first opportunity to interact with this council will be this Friday, September 9, 2016 at the Renaissance Hotel at 9 AM. The City Manager has put together a special morning council workshop meeting to introduce the concept of building strategic initiatives and leadership. As councilmember elect I will attend as an observer rather than a participant. I look forward to a fruitful and productive session and will share my observations in a future blog.

I take this opportunity to once again thank the voters of the Yucca district for their faith in me. I will work not only for them but with them to move the Yucca district forward by developing more jobs, working to make sure their neighborhoods are safe and secure, and enhancing their quality of life by securing more recreational opportunities.

© 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 163 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE TWO SAMMY CHAVIRA VIDEOS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN.537e4d22979c7.image

Before beginning today’s blog let us all take a moment to remember all armed service active duty and veterans for their service and their sacrifice. A bit of trivia…did you know that 1% of America’s population is responsible for preserving the freedoms that 99% of us enjoy? Our debt is enormous.Memorial-Day-Graphic

Light rail continues to remain contentious. In its city council meeting of April 24, 2016 city council split on a 4-3 vote approving its route and mode of transit. Voting for light rail were Councilmembers Tolmachoff, Turner, Aldama and Chavira. Voting against, while citing the need for an investigation of the alternatives, were Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh and Councilmember Malnar.

This issue will come before city council once again, probably in January of 2017. At that time city council will be asked to commit formally to financing and approving the final route. At that time they will still have the option to approve or deny funding for light rail.

There are many angry people out there who are opposed to light rail for many reasons and they are not going to go away. The wisest action this city council could take would be to call for a special election and allow the citizens of Glendale to decide this issue for once and for all. After all, the last vote taken about light rail was 15 years ago and in that time we have seen many things change. It’s time to formally reassess the will of the people of Glendale.

City hall damage and the fall out just will not go away. In Paul Giblin’s story of May 24, 2016, the city acknowledges that nearly $50,000 (not the $30,000 I had cited previously) of damage had been done. Here is the link :  http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/05/24/vandals-cause-50000-damage-glendale-city-hall/84557320/ .

 In a second Public Information Request I again asked for the following:

  1. “I request Councilmembers Aldama and Chavira to obtain information from Barrio Breakthru about expenses covered by their donation of $5,000 of taxpayer money.
  2. 2. I request copies of any and all licenses and proof of insurance on file for this event provided to the city by Barrio Breakthru.”

The city’s response was, “The City has reviewed its records and has provided documents on file that are responsive to this request. There were no responsive documents for item #1.” None of the documents I previously received from the city show any licenses or proof of insurance on file with the city. Yet Ordinance 2975 specifically contains these specific requirements.

There is another way to skin this cat. On September 2, 2014 city council took up the question of council guidelines and specifically the issue of councilmember donations to non-profits. Here is the link: http://glendale-az.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=2838c6fe-32f9-11e4-bdc2-00219ba2f017&meta_id=7296  .  No consensus was achieved by council to prohibit councilmember donations to non-profits but there were a series of staff recommendations that, by council  consensus, were adopted on that date. They were as follows:

  1. “Requests for an expenditure of council discretionary funds for purposes of a donation of $5,000 or above must be submitted to the City Council for approval.
  2. “Each request for the use of council discretionary funds will require the completion of a new uniform standard request form.
  3. “Council discretionary fund recipients will agree that the City of Glendale and its authorized representatives shall have the right to examine and audit all financial and related records related to the acceptance and expending of the discretionary funding.”

I call upon City Manager Kevin Phelps to perform an audit of Barrio Breakthru and its acceptance of and its spending of the discretionary funding provide by Councilmember Chavira in the amount of $2,500 and Councilmember Aldama in the amount of $2,500. This audit should be publicly released for it involves $5,000 taxpayer dollars. I further call upon City Manager Kevin Phelps to amend Ordinance 2975 making it clear that if these requirements are not met, no permit will obtained. There is also an opportunity to review policies for special events to ensure that all organizations are being treated equally and that city property is protected properly.

City Manager Phelps said, “ Breakthru Productions carries insurance, so city officials will approach the organization’s executives to seek reimbursement for the damaged equipment.” If that is the case, why was I not provided with that information when I made my PIR? None of the documents I received included any proof of insurance despite a specific request for such information.

Why does it seem that Barrio Breakthru is being given a pass by city hall officials? Is it because two councilmembers, Chavira and Aldama donated to Barrio Breakthru?

© 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 94 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On March 19, 2016, Paul Giblin’s article is entitled Glendale expenses get more scrutiny. It is not online as of this date so no link to the story is provided. In his article Giblin solicits reaction to Chavira’s questionable travel expenses from his peers…the Glendale city councilmembers. Giblin reports, “Sammy Chavira’s colleagues on the Glendale City Council said this week they want to strengthen the city’s travel policy following reporting by the Arizona Republic on Chavira’s travel expenses.”

Mayor Weiers said, “‘We’re going to have to do something. Weiers said one option to tighten the travel policy would be to require councilmembers to use personal credit cards, rather than city-issued cards, for all city-related travel. If you want to be reimbursed, then you have to provide us with all the information – who, what, when, why, where. If you don’t provide that, then you’re not going to get reimbursed,’ he said.”

A majority of councilmembers have said this is a future public city council workshop topic of discussion. Silent on the issue were Councilmember Chavira and Councilmember Aldama. “Vice Mayor Ian Hugh and City Council members Lauren Tolmachoff and Bart Turner told The Republic they expect a formal discussion at a public meeting about improving the city’s travel policy for elected officials.”

The reactions from various councilmembers are varied. “Hugh said he is opposed to granting council members authority to approve or disapprove of each other’s trips.” Frankly I agree with his assessment. In towns and cities there are councilmembers who don’t like each other, don’t get along with each other and may downright hate each other. In most cases, the public is never aware of councilmembers’ animosity toward one another because publicly they remain polite to one another. Political animosity (or even revenge) would be a constant threat if councilmembers’ had the power to approve or disapprove of one another’s expenses.

“‘Council members should be held to at least the same standard as rank-and-file city employees,’ Tolmachoff said.” Councilmember Tolmachoff almost got it. Councilmembers should not be held to the same standards as other city employees. They should be held to the highest standard. They should be a model for all employees to follow. Councilmembers are in a unique position. There are only 7 of them elected by the people of Glendale. There is no comparable position in Glendale. That makes them unique. Their major responsibility is to develop all policy for the city. It is an enormous task requiring their best efforts and a commitment to impartiality. It is their responsibility to strive to be above reproach at all times and in all instances.

Councilmember Ray Malnar thinks that a periodic audit of councilmembers’ use of their expense accounts is in order. “Periodic audits of council members’ expenses would help keep members attuned to existing guidelines, Malnar said. ‘There’s always the ability, no matter what kind of controls you have in place, for abuse. And a lot of it is a matter of trust and follow-up.’ he said.” It is a solid suggestion. It bears serious consideration and has the appeal of having a councilmember’s expenses related to his or her budgets scrutinized on a regular basis.

Councilmember Turner, surprisingly, offered very little concern about councilmembers’ travel expenses and instead focused on lost receipts. “Turner said he’s interested in reviewing the city’s policy for lost receipts and perhaps capping the amount allowable for reimbursement using lost-receipt forms.There’s no transparency around a lost receipt, and I think we owe it to our taxpayers to be as transparent as possible,’ Turner said.”

From the councilmembers’ comments two viable themes emerged. Councilmember Malnar suggested audits. If such audits are not publicly posted prominently and instead are buried in the bowels of city hall paperwork, what good is an audit? Councilmember Turner made reference to transparency. However, currently there is no transparency related to any expense incurred by a councilmember. Why tailor transparency narrowly to a lost-receipt? It’s illogical. Transparency only serves the public interest when it brings to light a practice formerly buried and generalized in the city’s annual budget book.

Perhaps audits and transparency should be used in tandem. City councilmembers should consider revising their policy to include an annual audit performed by Glendale’s Audit Office of both their communications/professional development budget and their infrastructure improvements budget to be completed by October 1 of every year. I can hear the City Auditor now saying that it is an onerous burden upon her department. It is not unreasonable. Each councilmember’s two budgets total approximately $35,000 a year. They are simplistic and not as complicated as one would find in auditing an entire city department comprised of millions of dollars. They could be completed quickly and would not require an inordinate amount of audit staff’s time.

These audits should be posted in each councilmember’s Friday e-newsletter no later than the end of each October. If a councilmember had to publicly announce what expenditures he or she made during the course of a year it would constantly reinforce the concept that each and every dollar is a taxpayer dollar and not “theirs.” This is a reasonable policy. It would create an unmatched level of transparency for Glendale’s citizens. Glendale would be the first city in the state to adopt such a model and it is expected it would cause other cities to follow suit. It would have the effect of helping the public to determine if a councilmember was making effective and ethical use of their taxpayer dollars. It would certainly be a breath of political fresh air.

In the meantime, Giblin reported, “While Glendale officials talked about Chavira’s expenditures, Phoenix officials acted on them. Phoenix officials submitted five checks to Glendale on March 9 to reimburse the city for their portions of the seafood dinner, said Glendale spokeswoman Sue Breding.” Obviously these Phoenix officials, such as the Phoenix Fire Chief, by reimbursing the city, are tacitly acknowledging that Chavira’s payment for their dinners was inappropriate. That cannot be good for Chavira who keeps repeating that he did nothing wrong. Perhaps he’s hoping if he repeats it often enough people will believe him…Hmmm, I think not. I wonder if former Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick or Phoenix Councilmember Danny Valenzuela (who happens to be a Glendale fire fighter) reimbursed Glendale. There’s no way to know as that information is not forthcoming.

Come on, Glendale councilmembers, think outside the box. Develop a policy that sheds light on the issue for all of Glendale’s taxpayers. After all, it’s not about you. It’s about the citizens and city that you are elected to serve.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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It has been 17 years and 162 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Unless you have been comatose by now you know that on June 10, 2015 the Glendale City Council voted 5 -2 to cancel its Lease Management Agreement with IceArizona for the city owned arena. Two days later, June 12, 2015 Ice Arizona successfully secured a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).

Just think about it. The council vote was 5 -2 with Councilmember Jamie Aldama breaking ranks with Councilmembers Sherwood and Chavira. In his remarks he said that while he is pro business he felt compelled to uphold the integrity of the process.

Just think about it. The five councilmembers who voted to void the contract have divergent backgrounds in terms of educational levels, incomes, ethnicity, time served on city council yet collectively they found the facts available to them (and not to the public to date) compelling enough to move forward with voiding the contract.

Just think about it. This council has been characterized as being idiots, fools and all manner of the devil. They knew there would be an extraordinarily violent reaction yet they held fast and voted their consciences. Only senior management and the council know the facts relating to state statute § 38-511. They knew that IceArizona would sue; they knew there would be legal fees; they knew the fan base would come unglued; they knew the media, in its search for fresh red meat, would berate them. They knew…yet they still voted to cancel the contract. Didn’t any of these groups pause for just a nanosecond to consider that the city’s allegations could be quite legitimate?

Just think about it. The 5 members of city council that voted to cancel the contract must stay the course. They took an oath to uphold the law. They have a fiduciary responsibility to every Glendale taxpayer. If an opportunity for further dialogue with the Coyotes presents itself they should take advantage of that opportunity. If it brings no resolution then they must follow through on cancellation of the contract.

Just think about it. Many question why now? Quite frankly, it is irrelevant. The makeup of the city council changed with this past election. The original 4 councilmembers that approved the contract dwindled to 2 creating an environment that allowed the facts as known to the city to be considered and acted upon.

Just think about it. The greater question is what has happened to civil society?  America is great because one of its bedrock values is freedom of speech. Everyone, on either side of this issue, has the freedom to express an opinion but it should be tempered speech based on the facts. It is acknowledged that the Coyotes fans are stunned and angered by the recent city action. In their anger some have allowed emotion to override common decency.

Just think about it. One action that is stark in its viciousness was that of Ms. Rhonda Pierson on the night of the special voting meeting. Ms. Pierson expressed the beliefs of some Coyotes fans and she had the right to do so but the vindictiveness of her speech was out of bounds. Social media has turned her into a heroine of some sort despite the ugliness of her delivery. I didn’t catch it if she announced it but did she acknowledge that she was (or may still be) an employee of the Coyotes organization?

Just think about it. Then today, June 13, 2015, Mayor Weiers who had announced that he was willing to be tazed to raise money for the 100 Club (mission: support of law enforcement families) was tazed by Ms. Pierson. The event was intended to be a great gesture in support of law enforcement recently vilified nationwide. By choosing Ms. Pierson as the designated person to taze the mayor it turned into a distasteful event that made many people uncomfortable. It wasn’t done in the spirit in which it was originally intended but rather turned into a symbolic expression of vindictiveness for the city’s recent vote to void the contract. Those behind the choosing of Ms. Pierson to perform the act have sunk to a new low and are no better than those within the city they currently choose to hate. It was petty and mean spirited.

Just think about it. Social media is a platform that creates a herd mentality and its anoninimity emboldens some to exceed the bounds of common civility. It encourages an atmosphere that causes mass salivation of others’ perceived misfortunes or misdeeds and often reactions are based on raw emotion in the absence of any fact. The level of vituprativeness and ugliness of some folks’ speech has risen to an unprecented level not just locally but on issues throughout the country.

Just think about it. There are probably about 100 local fans that use social media on a regular basis. They have been whipped into frenzy, in part, by the comments made by Anthony LeBlanc as he recently made the media rounds. Did anyone bother to take note that he had to walk back some of his misstatements? Such as, they were never asked by the city to consider renegotiation or Tindall was the only former Glendale employee ever connected to the Coyotes.

Just think about it. There are about 239,000 residents of Glendale. The arena holds slightly north of 17,000. If everyone of the 17,000 was a Glendale resident that would be one twelfth of Glendale right now. In a survey done by one of the TV stations it was reported that 59% of the Glendale residents surveyed supported the cancelling of the IceArizona contract.

Just think about it. If some wish to boycott Glendale’s businesses in protest, that is their right. If some wish to mount recall petitions against every Glendale councilmember, that is their right but ugly expressions of anger directed to the city are not right if one respects the bounds of common decency.

Just think about it. The media has reported that in the next few days IceArizona and city personnel will meet. Let us hope that a long and costly court battle can be avoided. Let us hope that they can work out their differences regarding the contract. I really would like to see the Coyotes stay in Glendale but not at the current rate of taxpayer subsidization.

Just think about it. If nothing comes of their meeting I wish the Coyotes well, perhaps playing in Phoenix. The only nagging question that comes to mind is who is going to pay the Coyotes $15 million a year to play in their facility? The City of Phoenix? Or Robert Sarver?

© 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.

It has been 17 years and 96 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On March 25, 2015 the Glendale Star ran a story on the elimination of the city’s General Fund debt payable to the city’s Enterprise Funds (water, sewer, sanitation and landfill). Here is the link:  http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_4fd7f4dc-d181-11e4-b56b-93c81bbb5cc5.html .

In an effort to buy additional time to secure a buyer for the NHL Coyotes who would pledge to keep the team at Glendale’s Gila River Arena, a previous city council approved borrowing $15 million from the city’s water and sewer funds, $40 million from its landfill fund and $5 million from its sanitation fund. The revenue was used to pay the NHL to manage the arena for two years while the process of finding a team buyer continued. At the time council also approved a repayment plan, using General Fund revenue to pay the Enterprise Funds back with interest. It was a solemn pledge and a commitment that the previous council never anticipated future councils would renege upon. The unthinkable is about to occur. At a recent workshop following the recommendation of Tom Duensing, Glendale’s Finance Director, a majority of council plans to do exactly that.

When Councilmember Tolmachoff asked what would be the consequences of such an action, Duensing replied, “You could do it a number of ways: you could do rate increases, you could defer maintenance, you could cut your operating costs.”

There were questions unasked that still demand answers:

  • While this action might make the general fund balance sheet look better, what impact does it have on the balance sheets of water and sewer, the landfill, and sanitation?
  • By recording the former “loan” to a fund transfer, doesn’t it reduce the assets on the balance sheets of those funds?
  • How does the reduction in financial assets impact the bond ratings of the water and sewer fund and the landfill fund?  While the proposed action may assist in the General Fund bond rating, doesn’t the converse action harm the Enterprise Funds ratings?
  • Doesn’t this action reduce the funds available to water and sewer for maintaining and upgrading the water and sewer systems? Duensing in his answer to Tolmachoff implies that it does.
  • If the Council approves this action, doesn’t that mean that a water and sewer rate increase will be necessary and supported by the Council? If a rate increase occurs, it looks like we can lay the evaporation of a pledge to repay the Enterprise Funds at the feet of retaining the hockey team as an anchor tenant at the city owned arena.

Duensing’s proposal is moving the pea underneath a different shell. It’s a magical, accounting trick designed to satisfy the rating agencies. The problem is that it sets precedent. Who, whether it’s a developer, a citizen or a company doing business with the city, will trust in the city’s word if it is willing to renege on paying a debt? If a water, sewer or landfill rate increase is proposed and adopted by this city council citizens will have every right to be angry for it will be driven by a broken promise to reimburse the Enterprise Funds. Glendale rate payers of the water, sewer, landfill and sanitation services will have every right to assume that any proposed rate increase is driven by money borrowed from these funds and paid to the NHL to run the arena for two years.

Duensing appears obsessed on building up the city’s reserve funds (contingency). While building the city’s reserve back up is necessary and critical his solutions are to keep the sales tax increase permanent and now, to raise Glendale’s property tax rate by 2%. He appears to have only two tricks in his bag.

Sterling Fluharty of the Glendale Star in writing an article entitled City decides not to cut taxes, in its online edition of April 6, 2015, reports, Glendale City Council had few objections two weeks ago when the acting city manager and financial director announced they were abandoning plans to lower the sales tax rate and making preparations for raising property taxes. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_b6c5e5e6-dc99-11e4-8961-4fb07a583a64.html#.VSNVhK1dGb8.twitter .

Last December Duensing was still pitching lowering the sales tax rate. Fluharty in his article states,  Duensing published a five-year financial forecast that month (December, 2014) that assumed the council would approve annual reductions, making the sales tax rate 2.85 percent in 2015-16, 2.825 percent in 2016-17, 2.8 percent in 2017-18 and 2.775 percent in 2019-20.” What information does senior management and the council have (not shared publicly) to cause them to not only reject a reduction in the sales tax rate but now to increase the property tax rate?

Since the new council was seated in January, 2012, adopting Duensing’s recommendations it has:

  • Made the increase of 2.9% as a temporary sales tax increase permanent
  • Approved a management agreement paying IceArizona $15 million a year
  • Will approve construction of a parking garage at Westgate for $46 million + over 3 years
  • Will approve a 2% increase in property taxes

Where is the council commitment to cut expenses and to live within the city’s means? It seems their only solutions to solving the city’s ongoing financial problems is to keep the increased sales tax rate and now to raise the property tax rate.

Over the next 3 years the General Fund will have to absorb an additional $46 million plus as brand new debt. That figure does not include the ongoing debt for the baseball park, the Westgate Media Center and is parking garage, the Westgate Convention Center, the annual $15 million payment to IceArizona and the construction debt on the arena and the Public Safety Training Facility…as well as other debt I have failed to include.

During council’s discussion of a property tax increse while the sales tax increase does not diminish Mayor Weiers said, “At least we’re giving our citizens something, certainly in the right direction, anyway.” What exactly are the Mayor and council giving to its citizens? A screwing? It appears the right direction for Mayor Weiers and this city council is to raise yet another tax.

©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.

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