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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, March 12th, the voters of Phoenix will choose their new mayor. The candidates are both former councilmembers, Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela. I noted an opinion column by Elvia Diaz in the March 7th edition of the Arizona Republic. In the piece Ms. Diaz remarks on Valenzuela’s unabashed support for giving the Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver over $170,000 dollars of Phoenix taxpayers’ money.

One of her comments struck me as particularly relevant, “There is a reason why he (Sarver) and other heavy-hitters are backing Valenzuela. They know they can keep getting sweet deals with him at the helm of City Hall.”

I find that remark of hers to be descriptive of Valenzuela’s style of leadership. I do not have a personal relationship with either candidate. I have met Valenzuela a few times and my last opportunity to talk to him was a ‘one-on-one’ over coffee. It was apparent at that meeting that he seemed to be seeking my support as a Glendale councilmember. It was something I would not give as there were events in Valenzuela’s background that bothered me.

The contrast between Gallego and Valenzuela couldn’t be starker. Gallego, in viewing her debate performances, exhibits a command of and a depth of knowledge about Phoenix issues and proposes solutions that Valenzuela simply could not match. He appeared to be out-of-his-depth.

Valenzuela, unfortunately, does not seem to be very bright.  His problem is when you don’t know about issues, you turn to others for answers. It seems apparent that Valenzuela will turn to those ‘heavy-hitters’ who contributed mightily to his campaign for his answers. Those answers may not serve the best interests of the ordinary Phoenix resident.

Perhaps the most concerning is his job as a Glendale fire fighter. I asked Danny if he were willing to terminate his Glendale fire fighting job if he should be elected mayor of Phoenix. He was unwilling to do so and stated that he would continue to perform both jobs. As a Glendale councilmember I know how much time I devote to this job and it is considerable. The job has odd hours as well. I could be going to staff informational meetings during the course of a day, attend a luncheon and do a ribbon cutting or attend a regional event in the evening. It is not a 9 to 5 job.

I just couldn’t envision how Valenzuela would manage doing a 24 hour shift at a Glendale fire station. I also couldn’t envision Valenzuela’s security detail riding on a Glendale fire truck with him as his station answered a call.

Over time, as this question of dual jobs became more and more prominent during his campaign, Valenzuela eventually modified his position by stating that he would take a leave of absence from his Glendale fire fighter’s job.  Really? Just how was that supposed to work? Glendale was going to hold his old job for him for 4 years and then whenever he decided he’d come back and he could pick up where he left off? A very sweet deal that I doubt you or I would ever be given.

There’s an old adage “that we are judged by the company we keep.” Time for a little back story. Sammy Chavira and Danny Valenzuela were buddies. After all, Sammy was a Glendale councilmember and a Phoenix fire fighter and Danny was a Phoenix councilmember and a Glendale fire fighter. Both were members of the Hispanic Fire Fighters Association (HFFA) until both resigned under curious circumstances. Both urged the HFFA to hold a major fund raising event using friends of both gentlemen to produce the event.  The HFAA lost tons of money and there was never an audited accounting of where the revenues from the event went. Shortly thereafter both men resigned.

Sammy Chavira disgraced himself as a Glendale councilmember with a series of questionable trips using taxpayer money such as flying to Washington, D.C. to see the Pope. Chavira even used his city credit card to buy dinner for a group of Phoenix officials, including Valenzuela. That was a ‘no-no’. When it became public all of the officials, including Valenzuela, reimbursed the city of Glendale for their portion of the dinner expense.

When Valenzuela announced his run for mayor, he cut all ties with Chavira and terminated their relationship. All well and good but it begs the question, how many other Chavira-type friends does Valenzuela have?

Speaking of friends, how does the fire union fit into Valenzuela’s candidacy? I think we can all assume that they are helping him every possible way that they can…money, expertise and manpower. They can be expected to be giddy with joy should Valenzuela win the seat. Finally, they would have a friend in a real position of power that would fulfill their agenda.

Lastly, as noted in a Laurie Roberts’ Arizona Republic column today, suddenly dark money is being spent at a dizzying rate for Valenzuela in the last few days before the election. Today there is a full page ad in the Republic paid for by Advancing Freedom, Inc. a non-profit based in Oklahoma. Who or what is Advancing Freedom? Is it the light rail folks, the fire union or Sarver and the Suns? We’ll probably never know as they are not required to list their sources of funding under $50,000.

 It certainly smells of last minute desperation. It seems like a ‘Hail Mary pass’. Do they know something through their polling that we don’t know? And is it that Gallego is about to become Phoenix’s second female mayor? Let’s hope so.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

 

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On February 6, 2019 Laurie Roberts penned an opinion column in the Arizona Republic about tactics being used by the fire union as it inserts itself into the Phoenix election for Mayor between Kate Gallego and Danny Valenzuela. Here is the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2019/02/06/police-and-fire-groups-attack-kate-gallego-unfair/2784074002/ .

When I read the piece it was déjà vu all over again. It immediately took me back to my 2012 election run against Sammy Chavira, a Glendale resident and Phoenix fire fighter. The fire union poured thousands of dollars into fact manipulated ads against me. Sammy was their guy, their brother, and by God they were going to do what they needed to do to get him elected. They out spent me 4 or 5 to 1 and of course, waited to attack in the closing days of the campaign forestalling any opportunities to rebut the fast and loose “facts” they used. Too bad their guy was allegedly a crook who spent taxpayer money on unnecessary trips such as a visit to Washington, D.C. to see the Pope. Sammy served one term and did not survive in his run for a second term.

Now the fire union is doing it again. Danny Valenzuela is a Phoenix resident and a Glendale fire fighter running for the mayorship of Phoenix. Is it any wonder that the fire union, using a political action committee (PAC) called Moving Phoenix Forward created expressly for this purpose, has employed what are clearly dirty ads to get their failing candidate elected? In the November 2018 Phoenix primary Danny could only muster about 25% of the vote and trailed Gallego by nearly 2 to 1. They are desperate and now anything goes. Why? Because fire wants a raise and they know their brother Danny will give it to them.

Here are some of the quotes from Laurie Roberts’s opinion column:

“With early balloting for Phoenix mayor just a week away, police and firefighter unions are out with an ad attacking front runner Kate Gallego.”

“…police officers and firefighters would be so desperate to get their guy elected that they would play fast and loose with facts.”

“In a Jan. 31 press release announcing the ad, Moving Phoenix Forward pronounces the election ‘a dead heat once likely voters learn the facts’. Then they spent $400,000 distorting those facts.”

I don’t personally know Kate Gallego. In fact, I have never met her. She impresses me as an elected official who does her “homework” I can recognize and appreciate other elected officials who do likewise. Kate Gallego is one of those. She does do her homework and has an incredible array of knowledge about the operations of the City of Phoenix. It appears to me that her commitment to the job is truly to serve the interests of each and every resident in Phoenix and not just the special interests.

Just remember Danny is the candidate who said if elected he will remain a Glendale fire fighter. I can just see his security detail riding on a fire truck with him. When he received a lot of push back on that idea he amended his statement to say he would take a leave of absence from the Glendale fire department. No one is sure this is even a workable solution. Does Danny expect the city to leave his position vacant for four years, should he be elected and then be given his job back whenever he requests it? This is the same Danny who, it is alleged, had an affair while married. This is the same Danny whom, if elected, will be bought and paid for strictly by special interest groups who donated to his campaign. This is the same Danny whom, if elected, will most likely throw the concerns and interests of the average Phoenician under the bus if it conflicts with those who donated heavily to his campaign. Danny appears to be part of the “good ole’ boy” school of governing. You know the type. We’ve seen that type of elected official over and over again. It’s the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality. The people of Phoenix deserve better and can get it with Kate Gallego.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

The choice for a new Mayor of Phoenix is less than 2 weeks away.  I really have no dog in the fight regarding the Phoenix mayoral election but I was intrigued by a recent opinion piece by Robert Robb in the Arizona Republic questioning why the position of Phoenix mayor should be a full time job. In an October 14, 2018 column entitled Here’s why Phoenix needs a part-time mayor Mr. Robb states, “Making decisions about overall policies that put city government on a stable and sustainable path, rather than temporizing and punting, is difficult. But it doesn’t have to be terribly time-consuming.” He goes on to say, “The only way to turn the mayor position, and the city council position as well, into a full-time job is to expand its activities to include political pursuits only marginally related to the charter function of setting sound overall policy.” Here is the link: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/robertrobb/2018/10/14/phoenix-mayor-should-part-time-daniel-valenzuela-right/1606614002/ .

One can understand Mr. Robb’s point of view if you accept that he an outsider looking in. His premise is that all activities unrelated to establishing city policy are purely political in nature with the ultimate goal of furthering the elected official’s political career and agenda.

So, Mr. Robb, when an elected official sits on a regional or local committee or board, according to your premise it’s only to advance a political career and not to represent or advance the interests of or the position of that community? Really? So when the elected official sits on a council subcommittee it’s only to advance a political career and not to represent or advance the interests of the represented constituency? Really? So when the elected official is invited to a neighborhood meeting or a local event it’s only to advance a political career and not to communicate with one’s constituency? Really?

There are many events and activities that are outside the scope of sitting at a dais and voting on policy. There’s also a great deal of ‘homework’ for the conscientious elected official to research and consider before casting that policy vote.

Seventeen years ago when I was first elected as a city councilmember it was a part time job and I received commensurate part time compensation. Over the years the job has grown in the complexity of the policy issues about which we decide as well as time spent on regional cooperation and constituency services on a one-to-one basis. In a large city it can no longer be considered a part time job. Then magnify the responsibilities of a councilmember for that of a mayor of a large city. It is most definitely a full time job that admittedly has the elected official pursuing some political agenda but predominately serving the needs of the city and its constituents.

The past mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, received a salary of $88,000 a year. I do not know if he received a cell phone or car allowance but benefits would include at a minimum, medical benefits and a city contribution to his pension.  If the Phoenix mayoral position is considered as a part time job surely the compensation would reflect that as well. A salary of $88,000 a year plus benefits is more than many Phoenicians earn. So, Mr. Robb, a part time job deserves a part time salary.

This issue is pertinent because on October 4th, Valenzuela’s campaign made the following announcement, “I will put my firefighter career on hold during my term if elected as Mayor of Phoenix.” Apparently the candidate has tacitly recognized that being the Mayor of one of the largest cities in the country is a full time job.

His announcement raises a whole new set of questions. What does putting his Glendale fire fighting career on “hold” mean exactly? Is he proposing a sabbatical or leave? With or without pay? When he decides to resume his fire fighting career would there have to be a city commitment offering him his job back immediately?

Nearly every city will grant sabbatical or leave time. It has been typically and historically used and granted to city personnel called up to active military duty, short sabbaticals for research, maternity leave, etc. To my knowledge sabbaticals and leaves have never been granted for a strictly political reason such as holding elected office or for such a long time…4 years. Phoenix voters and Glendale taxpayers have the right to know exactly what putting Valenzuela’s career on hold entails. The voters should know whether they are really getting a full time mayor. The taxpayers of Glendale should know if Valenzuela will continue to receive his current salary if he is on “hold” and if his “hold” time impacts his pension.

There was one other comment made by Mr. Robb in his opinion piece that was of interest and that was, “Valenzuela is the candidate of the status quo powers: the firefighters union and the business community. As mayor, he is unlikely to rock many boats.” This is probably the understatement of all time. He is more likely to advance the firefighters union and business community agenda. After all, they will have brought him to the dance.

Mr. Valenzuela’s campaign has relied heavily on his position as a Glendale firefighter. His campaign signs shout fire fighter. His campaign website has photos with Glendale fire trucks at one of the city’s fire stations. How can one tell? Glendale fire vehicles are yellow and Phoenix fire vehicles are red.

Is this a violation of the federal Hatch Act? I’m not an attorney so obviously I don’t know. But here is some background on the Hatch Act. It is a federal law passed in 1939. It limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as some state, D.C., and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. ​In 1940, the law was expanded to cover state and local employees whose salaries are paid, in part, by federal funds or whose duties are connected to federally funded activities. The Supreme Court has on two occasions upheld its constitutionality. It prohibits the use of government resources or position to affect the results of an election.

Over the years the Glendale Fire Department has been the recipient of federal grants. The most notable and frequently received have been the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grants, just one of a menu of Homeland Security grants available to cities. It would seem that Mr. Valenzuela has participated in or benefitted from UASI grants and that his duties are and have been, from time to time during his 15 years as a Glendale fire fighter, connected to federally funded activities. Therefore the use of government assets and equipment for his campaign could be a Hatch Act Violation.

It is up to the Phoenix voter to decide whether you will be getting the benefit of a part time or full time mayor. It’s up to the Phoenix voter to decide whether Mr. Valenzuela’s use of Glendale resources to tout his position as a fire fighter in his campaign is appropriate.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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

On September 20, 2015 former Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick pulled a packet to begin the process to run for mayor of Glendale. That sparked many asking if I would run for mayor. The answer is “no.” I am really enjoying my retirement as well as my new found freedom to comment on Glendale’s issues.

Personally, Mr. Burdick is gregarious and affable. He is a nice man but I know a lot of nice people who do not possess the qualities one would expect of a mayor.

There are two major factors about Burdick that voters should consider a year from now when the election occurs. One is the history of his past associations. Burdick was in the Beasley/Fischer-Frisoni-Tindall inner circle.  Apparently Beasley left as city manager while he could for surely he would have been terminated for his alleged favoritism, i.e, allowing Alma Carmichel, former HR Director, to telecommute from Mississippi; and allowing Art Lynch, former Finance Director, to profit handsomely as a consultant after he left Glendale’s employ. Fischer left as city manager after her actions of publicly berating the Glendale Chamber of Commerce President and in a retaliatory move requested councilmember emails. Tindall and Frisoni were employees who allegedly used their positions to further the goals of the Coyotes ownership group in its dealings with the city. Also Burdick appears to support Councilmember Sherwood who is facing recall on November 3, 2015. Burdick continues to maintain a relationship with Frisoni for he hired her to design the marketing package for his brand new company. In fact, I still remember the evening at a function at Westgate when Burdick and Frisoni lobbied me to choose Tindall as Glendale’s Interim City Manager. There is an old adage that you are judged by the company you keep.

The other major issue is the question of the effectiveness of Burdick’s leadership while he was Glendale’s Fire Chief. It appears that Burdick ceded his vision and leadership to the Glendale Fire Union. Fire union employees are sprinkled throughout the organization in decision making positions and other positions of power. Burdick seemed powerless to rein in the fire union’s agenda and goals. He didn’t seem to have the backbone to stand up to them and to advance an agenda that was good for all of Glendale – not just the fire union. Burdick, as fire chief, would have occasional but regular lunch meetings with councilmembers. I always felt as if I were listening to the fire union’s emissary. Several times I suggested that Burdick had to gain control of his department and I would get silence and this seemingly “deer in the headlights” look from him. His leadership skills are in doubt.

Make no mistake; Burdick will enjoy the full force and resources of the fire union’s support in his quest for mayor. That means that every Valley fire union chapter (except Glendale for that would violate the federal Hatch Act) will donate to his campaign. All of these chapters will “volunteer” labor to put up his campaign signs (while helping opposing candidates’ signs to disappear or be vandalized) and droves of firefighters will walk the length and breadth of Glendale handing out pro-Burdick flyers. The big gorilla, the Phoenix chapter, will do the same in spades, in addition to making independent expenditures for campaign mailers. They want Burdick in as mayor…badly. Can you imagine the coup of having a former fire chief as the mayor of one of the largest cities in the state?

Again, Mr. Burdick is a nice man but you vote for him at your peril. Do you want a mayor who will advance the fire union’s agenda by pouring resources into the fire department at the expense of every other department in the city? The city only has so much money in its General Fund. Do you want your General Fund tax dollars being used for fire almost exclusively while ignoring libraries, parks, streets and a host of other essential needs?

Mayor Jerry Weiers will face a tough reelection. If he expects to prevail he had better get out into the community now. To this day many consider him invisible. He needs to up his public profile. Burdick is already hitting Weiers on the decision to cancel the Coyotes contract and to enter into a two year deal with them. That decision will play well with many voters because it reduced the burden on taxpayers considerably and they like that. Weiers still faces the possible specter of having Sherwood and/or Aldama run for mayor as well.

Burdick will receive a lot of help in his campaign. Don’t become mesmerized. He, like anyone else, has feet of clay. His associations with seemingly bad actors within Glendale government and his seeming inability to lead his own department are Burdick’s feet of clay.

© 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 ‘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 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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