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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 17 years and 201 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

A July 8, 2015 article in the Glendale Star by Darrell Jackson highlights “coincidences” between Councilmember Chavira’s actions and decisions as an elected official and campaign contributions he recently received. Here is the link:  http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_85b74584-25a1-11e5-95e3-6f2610f801ba.html .

Before reviewing his recent bout of troubling “coincidences” it’s time for another history lesson. I admit to bias. In 2012 Chavira defeated me in the election for the Yucca district seat. He had a lot of support from the Maricopa County Democratic Party #1049 which donated $10,000 to his campaign. He had former Glendale Councilmember Norma Alvarez as well as that of Danny Valenzuela, a Glendale firefighter currently serving on the Phoenix City Council, to thank for the Dems support. Although I am sure Alvarez regrets her support of Chavira when he broke from her and voted against her positions on issues. As a Phoenix firefighter he received thousands of dollars from firefighter union chapters as well benefitting from their independent expenditures on mailers, flyers, signs and manpower. He also received tremendous support from the Hispanic community and used “dreamers” almost exclusively as his foot soldiers. He outspent me in the order of $5 to $1.

During that election cycle some elements of his questionable past actions became public. Just prior to the 2012 election Sammy and Danny were members of the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters (NAHF). Sammy was removed as a Vice President and both men resigned because they allegedly bore responsibility for loss of funds from an NAHF fund raising event. The event may have made money but not for the NAHF. All it received were the bills.

That specific NAHF event was produced by the Phoenix Monarch Group (PMG): Art Jimenez and Tony Herrera. Herrera, a firefighter, has his own business, One Consulting, and also had a  business relationship with Chavira’s wife (and Chavira). Sammy and Danny advocated for hiring them to run the event. Apparently a lot of “funny stuff” happened with scenes (ala the Mafia) of Sammy apparently riding around in a golf cart with Herrera collecting money from the vendors…money never seen again or accounted for to the NAHF.

The Phoenix Monarch Group’s history has a lot of its own question marks. Prior to IceArizona’s successful acquisition of the Arizona Coyotes PMG appears to have had former Mayor Scruggs and former Councilmember Alvarez as advocates as they attempted to secure a contract to manage Glendale’s arena. All of the relationships mentioned are entangled like a giant ball of snakes. It seems as if Sammy’s previous ethical “coincidences” turned out to be precursors’ of his current ethical “coincidences.”

Sammy received a contribution of $500 on February 2, 2015 from Nicholas Wood.  Wood is also one of IceArizona’s stable of legal counsels. On June 10, 2015 the city council voted 5-2 to cancel the IceArizona management contract for the arena. Sammy just happened to be one of two votes against cancellation. Hmmm…

Then on March 23, 2015 Michael Curley (recently deceased) who represented the Bidwills on many of their projects in Glendale, including Sportsmen’s Park East and West, donated $500 to Chavira. A day later, on March 24, 2015, the city council workshop included a discussion of the infamous, Taj Mahal Westgate parking garage. Chavira seemed to have no problem with sticking the cost of this over priced garage to Glendale taxpayers. Hmmm…

Here’s one to watch. Jacob Long, son of deceased John F. Long, is nearly ready to make application for rezoning of a large parcel of land south of the Grand Canal to Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue. Unless, there are some changes to the zoning plan by Long, neighbors will not be happy and can be expected to protest this one. On February 23, 2015, Long made an yet another contribution to Chavira of $500 bringing his cumulative total to date to $930. Hmmm…

Yet another example of a Chavira’s “coincidence” is recent contributions from firefighter unions. At the April 21, 2015 city council workshop Chavira read a prepared stump speech in support of the Glendale firefighter union request for more funding. A few days later, on April 23, 2015, Phoenix Fire Fighters Local 493 (Fire PAC) gave Sammy $1,000 followed by April 27, 2015, donations of $1,000 from the Peoria chapter and $1,000 from the Tempe chapter. You would think he bears a conflict of interest. Hmmm…

Does it seem that Sammy is ethically challenged? Does it seem to you that his relationships seem questionable? Does it seem that if you have enough money to play he will advocate for you? Does it seem that Sammy is not making decisions in the best interest of Glendale but rather in the best interest of his campaign contributors…Becker billboards…a flip-flop from his campaign platform of denial to approval of the IceArizona contract…no vote on IceArizona contract cancellation…advocacy for more money for firefighters with the use of scare tactics…making the temporary sales tax permanent? Hmmm…

© Joyce Clark, 2015


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jobing.com arena

Jobing.com Arena

Well, well,well…Glendale has offered a crumb to its residents by making public the names of the four bidders that responded to the Beacon Sports RFP (at a cost of $100,000) for management of its arena, Jobing.com. More to come about the bidding process in a future blog.

The contenders are: Phoenix Monarch Group, R Entertainment, SMG World and Phoenix Arena Development. Have you noticed who is missing? We see none of the expected and well known players in either the arena management industry or the entertainment venue industry – Global Spectrum, AEG and IFG. I suspect that when they learned that as part of the bid Glendale was seeking their investment (counts for 10% of bidding score) they probably said thanks, but no thanks.

Let’s look at the bidders. First up is R Entertainment. It is a privately held company registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission in August, 2006. It is located in Scottsdale with 1-10 employees. Its Statutory Agent is Kerry Dunne and according to the media, a partner. It manages one venue, the Pepsi Amphitheater at Fort Tuthill County Park near Flagstaff. By the way, the seating capacity of the Amphitheater is 2,750, not quite a 17,000 seat arena. I congratulate them for submitting a bid but I fear they are way out of their league (no pun intended). Investment counts for 10% of the bid score and this company is too small to make a major investment in Glendale’s arena. Experience is another 15% of the bid score and the company’s management experience with the Pepsi Amphitheater does not meet managing a similar sports facility. Personnel accounts for another 10% of the score. The current management staff of the arena numbers about 135, full time and part time. With a staff of 1-10 people R Entertainment is simply too small to manage a venue of this size. This company’s bid could lose about 35% of available points according to the bid criteria. Quite frankly, it should have been rejected as not meeting the basic criteria of the bid.

Next up is SMG World whose headquarters are located in Philadelphia, PA. It is a world-wide event and venue management company established in 1977. It has the personnel and experience to manage Jobing.com arena and advertises on its website http://smgworld.com that it has managed 230 facilities. So it certainly is a viable contender. One problematical concern revolves around an old saying that you are judged by the company you keep. SMG has a relationship with the Bidwill subsidiary, Rojo Event Management. Yes, the same Rojo that submitted a bid to the city to manage its Youth Sports fields adjacent to the stadium. Rojo’s bid for management is greater than the current Global Spectrum contract and offers way less revenue to the city. This is the Youth Sports field bid the city should reject unless it likes being taken to the cleaners once again.

Another bidder has indeed risen like the mythical Phoenix Bird and that is the Phoenix Monarch Group (PMG). It was registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission in August of 2012 and its managing member is Arturo Jimenez. In the one telephone conversation I had with Mr. Jimenez (at Councilmember Lieberman’s request) he indicated that an Alvarez (don’t remember the first name) and Tony Herrera were part of his group (more about them in a minute). This group should sound familiar to you. It the group that Councilmember Alvarez brokered a meeting for with former Mayor Scruggs and former Councilmember Lieberman. At that time they were asking for about $7M to host 25 events. Their experience is problematical. They ran an event for the Hispanic Fire Fighters Association (HFFA) which ended with HFFA paying vendors because PMG did not. The only other event (that they classify as ‘major.’ I do not) PMG hosted was a Hispanic Festival for a Peoria Councilmember. PMG easily loses 35% of bid points for lack of experience, personnel and investment. But once again the specter of relationships is troubling. I do not know if the Alvarez Mr. Jimenez referred to is a distant, or otherwise, relative of Councilmember Alvarez. Mr. Herrera, another PMG participant, has a close relationship with Councilmember Chavira with both listed as managing members of two companies, Cool Heads,LLC. and the McCoy Group, LLC. At least in terms of public perception, if no other, Councilmembers Alvarez and Chavira should recluse themselves due to a conflict of interest. They have no business advocating for or participating in discussions and votes on choosing a Beacon bidder to manage the arena.

Last up is Phoenix Arena Development Limited Partnership. It is headquartered in Phoenix but according to the Arizona Corporation Commission it is a foreign limited partnership. It is a privately held company and owned by the Phoenix Suns Limited Partnership. The general partner of the Phoenix Suns Limited Partnership is JDM Sports, Inc. and as of 1992 Jerry Colangelo was its president. This company was created for one purpose only and that is to manage the Suns basketball team’s venue. It crafted a sweet deal for itself with the City of Phoenix. Reminds me of the Ellman deal, Coyotes and Jobing.com Arena. It has experience in managing one venue exclusively and somehow or another; I don’t think they will be making an investment in Glendale’s arena. More likely is that, if chosen, Glendale will end up making a hefty payment to this company.

So there you have it – the four bidders that Glendale taxpayers spent $100,000 to find. Pick your poison. It’s the height of chutzpah for Beacon to even present R Entertainment or the Phoenix Monarch Group as viable bidders to the council. Clearly neither one is qualified by experience alone, to manage Jobing.com. Left standing is SMG World with ties to the Bidwills or Phoenix Arena Development with ties to Colangelo. To date, we have not seen the details of any of these bids and have no clue as to the management fee any of these groups is requesting.

Coyotes logoKeep in mind that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the Beacon process was “silly” and it is. The same, major issue is before this council just as it was before the former council and that is, if you choose to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, Westgate viable and save the city’s third major economic area, you must pay the freight and use the team owner as the arena’s manager. The only issue for Glendale is what can it afford to pay to make that happen and will it be enough to keep the Coyotes long-term?


Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

At the May 7, 2013 City Council workshop during Council Comments and Suggestions, Councilmember Alvarez stepped up to the political plate once again. Her first suggestion was regarding the recruitment of a new City Attorney. She feels council should not recruit for a City Attorney but rather promote from within. She doesn’t want to spend the money. She remarked that Acting City Attorney Nick DiPiazza was doing “a good job” and that the City “should use him.” Now it appears that the city’s Human Resources department will take the lead on this search. Not a good idea. Agendas are rife within the city and will seep into the search parameters. I’ve seen it before. It’s also a bit like asking the fox to guard the hen house. This city needs a set of fresh eyes just as is needed for the City Manager’s position. Her initial thought seemed to spend all of her energy and she drifted off briefly – but wait! She wasn’t quite finished.

PMG 1In one final burst she opened the barn door for the Phoenix Monarch Group (PMG) horse. She has promoted PMG as willingly as her promotion of the Tohono O’odham. If you recall, she brokered a meeting in June, 2012 between this group and former Mayor Scruggs and former Councilmember Lieberman. At that meeting PMG made a pitch to manage Jobing.com for $7M a year while promising to bring 25 events (tractor pulls??). This time she wants council to look at outsourcing special events, marketing and the Civic Center. Obviously the criteria used in selection of a marketing and special events company will determine the Phoenix Monarch Group’s fate. It has been no secret that Alvarez thinks the money spent by the Marketing and Communications Department is wasteful and unnecessary. If there would be one department slated for oblivion it would be this one. After struggling to release her thoughts she mercifully slumped back into somnolence.