The most discussed item on the Glendale council workshop agenda of August 20, 2013 was that of prayer. This is not a council that questions staff reports or recommendations. There are several reasons that could account for their lack of inquiry. They could agree with all aspects of the item presented or they might not have done their homework and actually read the material. Take your pick. Keep in mind even when a councilmember agreed with an item, questions were often posed to staff to flesh out and offer further explanation.  In other words, it provided an opportunity to educate. Several councilmembers appeared to be reading the material in their workshop books for the first time. That is not as uncommon as you might expect. On previous councils there were always one or two councilmembers who were reading the material for the first time during meetings.

Glendale City Council

Glendale City Council

This is not a council of passionate belief or extraordinary intellect. Qualities required to create an atmosphere of forthright debate rather than passive acceptance. One exception is Councilmember Alvarez whose stubbornness and lack of understanding of an issue is often mistaken for passion.

Prayer is Mayor Weiers’ initiative. Coming from the state legislature where prayer is offered provided the impetus to introduce the concept in Glendale. He appears to have the support of Councilmembers Hugh, Sherwood, Alvarez and Chavira to bring it to a vote of approval. As stated in my last blog prayer may be fleeting as the Supreme Court takes up the issue of prayer at town meetings this fall. Councilmember Martinez and Vice Mayor Knaack dissented. They preferred continuation of the moment of silence and felt that the concept may cause problems in the future. They represent the sentiment of my unscientific blog poll to date. 67% of the responders do not support initiating a prayer and 33% of the responders do support it. Perhaps the best course of action would have been to “let sleeping dogs lie.”

When it came to Council Items of Interest, nearly all of the items were a recitation of the issues currently facing them, i.e., Camelback Ranch debt, the proposed casino, future revenue projections, the fire department’s “structural deficit,” and employee compensation. There were a few new ideas to explore. Councilmember Martinez asked to look at loose trash collection with the idea of changing it to a quarterly service or eliminating it altogether. That idea is sure to generate a lot of comment from Glendale’s citizens. Councilmember Sherwood suggested a look at the sister city concept with an intent to partner with a Canadian city that hosts hockey. Mayor Weiers agreed saying that Anthony LeBlanc (new owner of the Coyotes hockey team) had suggested the idea. Councilmember Chavira offered an idea, admittedly not his own, that asked staff to look at interim uses (such as an archery range) for the Western Area Regional Park (now called Glendale Heroes Memorial Park).

We know that critical issues such as the arena management contract, the external audit and meeting the City Attorney candidates occurred during what is turning out to be, all-too-frequent, closed Executive Sessions. The weighty issues are not for your consideration…only their eventual outcomes.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

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