Joe Hester, President of the Glendale Fire Union, had an opinion piece in the Glendale Star dated July 11, 2014 entitled A lot of talk, now is time for action. Here is the link: .

He made quite a few statements that bear further scrutiny. One was, “…the fact that Glendale is Arizona’s busiest fire department per capita…” Why, you ask, Is Glendale’s fire department the busiest? Does Glendale have more sick people and medical emergencies than every other city in the Valley? No. Does Glendale have more fires than every other city in the Valley? No. What Glendale does have is an automatic aid system shared with every other city in the Valley. But there is no parity. Glendale responds to its partner cities far more often than they respond in Glendale. That’s why Glendale’s fire department is the busiest.

Glendale Fire Union President, Joe Hester, goes on to say, “Simply put, our city cannot cut $27 million a year in revenue…” That is true but that was never the plan. At the time of the passage of the sales tax increase with the sunset provision, the plan was to gradually cut $5 million a year from Glendale’s budget. It was a plan that could have been accomplished had council had the backbone to implement cuts every year. It was never the plan to cut the entire sales tax windfall of $27 million from Glendale’s budget in one year.

Mr. Hester is now upset with Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Hugh because they filled out candidate questionnaires, “promising to save public safety from the chopping block at all costs.” I suspect that is still their intent but not in the manner the fire union desires.

It is interesting to read Mr. Hester saying, “We know the city in the past has struck bad sports deal and in the future may face the threat of bankruptcy.” Where was the Glendale fire union when the deal with IceArizona for $15 million a year was inked? Where was the Glendale fire union when the Camelback Ranch deal was struck? Will the Glendale fire union support cuts in the fire department of all non-core functions (fire and emergency medical response) if Glendale does indeed face bankruptcy?

Mr. Hester complains by saying, “…especially with paid petition circulators on the street…” He is referring to the fact that the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) has circulated an initiative petition to overturn the permanent sales tax increase recently approved by the city council. What he fails to mention is that fire fighters were out in droves, often blocking the AFEC’s effort to collect signatures. They also recited dire consequences to potential signers if the sunset were to occur.

On July 4, 2014 the Arizona Republic ran a story about the Glendale city clerk’s efforts to validate the initiative petition signatures. Here is the link: . I may be incorrect but it has been my understanding that the Secretary of State verifies initiative petition signatures.

Leaving signature verification to Glendale (biased against any effort to sunset the sales tax) is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.  In a previous effort to get an initiative on the ballot regarding removal of the sales tax on food all petition signatures were ruled invalid because the type on the petitions was a smidge too small. When the petitions were reproduced for distribution to signature gatherers the reproduction reduced the petition type slightly, by something like two-tenths. That was enough to terminate the entire effort. This time, with 20,000 petition signatures turned in it may be more difficult for Glendale to disqualify a minimum of 9,000 signatures. If Glendale succeeds expect this issue to end up in court.

© Joyce Clark, 2014


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