Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne provides clarification of what actually occurred in the Arizona city of Bisbee regarding the city ordinance related to same-sex unions. Take time to read his statement, “Bisbee – What Really Happened.”
Mega-salaries, benefits awarded in the worst of times
Recently we’ve been exposing the grossly excessive pay hikes and benefits packages of some of our illustrious Valley notables. Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos grabbed our attention in Dec. 2012 with his massive 33% raise, which amounts to an extra $78,000 a year! He will now be pulling down a yearly base salary of $315,000 plus a $600 monthly car allowance, $35,000 a year in deferred compensation, and a $4,000 “longevity” bonus.
Yesterday we provided the lowdown on the swell deals benefiting ASU President Michael Crow and his wife Sybil Francis. His annual salary of $475,000 plus benefits now comes in at $742,500. That includes a $50,000 housing allowance to assist in maintaining their exclusive $1,250,000 Paradise Valley digs, and $10,000 yearly car allowance. The ASU Foundation on which his wife serves as a “senior advisor” kicks in an additional $100,000 annually in compensation. His yearly perks include $85,500 pension and $22,000 in retirement. Annual step-up bonuses are part of the deal: 2013: Up to $40,000, 2014: Up to $40,000 and the major step-up in 2015: Up to $180,000 for exceeding “benchmarks.” Wifey Sybil Francis rakes in a six-figure income from the university, but the exact amount is elusive.
Taxpayer’s heads should be swimming with the news already provided. But then comes the deal of deals that Betsey Bayless, the CEO and president of Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS) has brokered. She just received a hefty $125,000 raise. Her base salary soared 33% overnight, from $375,003 to $500,000 — excluding benefits.
Bayless will also be allowed to enter into a 409A retirement scheme into which she contributes not a thin dime, but MIHS makes all contributions. If that’s not enough, she will garner up to a additional $125,000 by meeting various “performance goals.” Not bad for an unqualified, but well-connected political hack with one foot already out the door.
The five-member Board of Directors of the state’s largest public health-care system approved the raise this past week on a 3-2 vote. Check out the front page of the Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Budget Book. Longtime politico and perennial appointee Bayless is pictured center right, smiling broadly, of course, while oddly wearing a doctor’s coat.
According to a report in the daily, Bayless was set to retire from her position last year. But on Dec. 31, the last day of her term, the board extended her contract while a search is underway for her replacement. Board Chairwoman Susan Gerard, a longtime Bayless associate, and board member Elbert Bicknell, voted against the pay raise. The three newly elected board members Mary Harden, Mark Dewane and Terence McMahon, who could afford to take the heat, approved the increase, saying they wanted to give Bayless a raise since the national search firm for Bayless’ replacement regarded her salary “well below” the median range for others in comparable positions.
Let’s put this all in perspective: The $217,400 salary of the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court pales in comparison. The President of the United States, whose base salary tops out at $400,000 a year, trails both Michael Crow and Betsey Bayless. David Cavazos is right on the POTUS’ tail and has left Justice John Roberts in the dust.
These lavish gifts are your tax dollars, folks.
Phx City Manager David Cavazos gets $78,000 raise for a base salary of $315,000 – excluding perks
The City of Mesa will be implementing some substantial pay increases for its mayor and council members. The current salaries of approximately $38,000 for the mayor and $19,000 have been bumped to $70,300 a year for the mayor (a $32,300 yearly hike) and $35,200 (a healthy bump of $16,000), respectively. But that’s not all. Car allowances, currently $150 a month, will be raised to $450 a month for mayor and $300 for council members. They will all keep their current $80 monthly mobile phone allowance. If you’re starting to get a bit steamed, calm down. These large increases are not nearly as high as those originally considered. The daily reports the initial amounts of $80,000 for mayor and $60,000 for council members were reduced during a “tense meeting” last month that led to the resignation of a citizen’s commission member, who objected to the lower amounts and said the commission had been subjected to heavy political pressure.
But cool your jets. There’s even more. And this outrage comes from Phoenix, the city that in 2010 instituted a 2 % tax on food in order to allow the city to function — or so we were told.
In the next best thing to winning the lottery jackpot, Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos is the lucky recipient of a 33% raise, which amounts to an extra $78,000 a year! He will now be pulling down a base salary of $315,000 a year plus a $600 monthly car allowance, $35,000 a year in deferred compensation, and a $4,000 “longevity” bonus.
This is nothing new for Phoenix. In December 2009, $14.3 million was paid in “retention bonuses” to nearly 14,000 employees. This, as the City Council cut $270 million, or 22 percent, from Phoenix’s general-fund budget, including $156 million from programs and services in order to balance the city budget. Other Valley cities with high numbers of union workers followed suit.
There was no pink slip for David Cavazos, the fool of a city manager, who as acting deputy city manager, was suspended for a week without pay after an internal investigation found that city workers spent more than $280,000 in taxpayer money on questionable travel expenses. Though such irresponsible actions didn’t impede Cavazos’ accession to the top job, they speak volumes about his utter and longstanding disregard for taxpayer dollars.
With a 33% raise, Cavazos doesn’t have to deal with the realities contained in this Christian Science Monitor report detailing that average pay increases, among those who receive them, will be 2.7% — matching the rise of consumer prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data on salaries was even more dismal, showing an average 1.7 % pay increase.
This morning, the sole and lengthy editorial in the newspaper defended this excessive raise. Although columnists Laurie Roberts and E. J. Montini rightly blasted this massive pay increase yesterday, the daily jumps to its defense today, in a piece titled, Right move despite timing. This support for what would be an unthinkable pay increase in the best of times, but inconceivable in today’s troubled economy, should give heart to the staffers at the dying newspaper. Since Phoenix, the city that imposed a food tax on its citizens to “keep essential services” running, can be this generous, the Republic staffers should expect a hefty pay increase in their Christmas stockings from their dying employer the AZ República.
UPDATE — December 12, 2012:
MESA NIXES RAISES
After an outcry from residents, Mesa’s city council and mayor have decided to forego the pay increases proposed by a salary commission. The raises would have required a vote of approval from those receiving the salary boosts. After contentious debate, the council voted 4-3 against taking the raises.
The East Valley Tribune has more here.
Retiring Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs also backs Weiers
Jerry Weiers, the top vote getter in the primary election, has been given the nod by Glendale resident and Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer. “Leadership requires the will to make the tough decisions and the judgment to make the right ones. Jerry Weiers has demonstrated both traits as a legislator who built consensus, worked regionally to benefit his constituents and helped put Arizona’s finances back in order. I hope Glendale residents will join me in supporting Jerry Weiers for Mayor.”
Jerry Weiers issues page can be seen here. His opponent Manuel Cruz, an unsuccessful candidate for state mine inspector, is endorsed by far left unions and mostly out-of-town liberals who do not represent the values of Glendale. Cruz offers no vision for the city, but a long litany of baseless charges against the well respected former Glendale state lawmaker, Jerry Weiers.
In a pathetic campaign, Cruz puts a face on the old adage if you have nothing of substance to show, tear down those who do.
On the Glendale ballot will be a measure that clearly delineates the two. Voters will have the ability to reverse a $125 million, five-year sales tax increase. All they have to do is look to neighboring Phoenix to see that no tax ever sunsets. Glendale residents are being asked to underwrite a multi-year $300 million Phoenix Coyotes’ arena deal.
Cruz supports the tax extension. Weiers, who has a strong record of reigning in spending and addressing fiscal issues, wisely opposes it.
Conservatives have a clear choice in the race for mayor of Glendale. Vote for Jerry Weiers
Bet’ya thought Wilcox was elected to serve all of the people in District 5
Where to begin? There is an undeniable temptation to just to put up the press release from Richard de Uriarte, the Communications Manager for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and follow the advice most of us received from our mothers about saying nice things or keeping our mouths shut. But this site is not a repository for press releases and saying nothing at all will not suffice in this case.
When de Uriarte toiled at the Periódico de la República de Arizona (Arizona Republic), “minority issues and immigration” were among his duties, so this item would be right up his alley. His earlier press release announced that Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox has been awarded an international award from the Foreign Relations Secretariat of Mexico. The Premio Ohtli was awarded by the Instituto de los Mexicanos en la Exterior. The Mexican government created the award to recognize persons who have “promoted the prosperity of members of the Mexican community beyond Mexico’s political borders.”
The press release dated yesterday says Wilcox will be honored this Saturday in ceremonies sponsored by the Mexican Consul General’s Office and the City of Phoenix. A reception will be held at Phoenix City Hall, followed by the official celebration of Mexican Independence Day at the downtown Phoenix Orpheum Theatre.
“It is a tremendous honor to receive recognition from the Mexican government in our fight for human and civil rights for all people in Arizona,” gushed Wilcox.
How intriguing to hear that Mexico is concerned about ALL people in Arizona, but somehow we doubt it, Mary Rose. Ohtli has already been described by de Uriarte as being Hispanic ethno centric.
Wilcox’s concern for her actual constituents was highlighted when the Supervisors voted last month not to increase the property tax rate on Maricopa County citizens struggling in the worst economy in decades. It was Mary Rose who cast the lone dissenting vote.
Among the accolades the Mexican government heaped on Wilcox, this stands out: “She has been in the forefront in the push for comprehensive immigration reform.”
No wonder Mexico is honoring her. John McCain, Jon Kyl and wannabe Kyl successor Jeff Flake should be receiving their awards any day now.
Valley unions pay police millions to lobby while removing officers from duty
Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper is expected to issue an opinion late next week regarding whether the city of Phoenix should temporarily suspend the practice of funding “release time” for police officers to conduct union business. Phoenix and other Arizona cities spend millions of dollars every year to pay employees to perform union work on city time. The case is Cheatham and Marcus Huey v. City of Phoenix.
The request for a preliminary injunction is part of a lawsuit brought by the Goldwater Institute (GI) against the city of Phoenix and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association union (PLEA). Goldwater attorney Clint Bolick’s take on the unsavory and costly practice can be read here.
The GI case challenges the city’s contract with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which provides an estimated $900,000 in annual release time for police union work, including lobbying. The provisions take six full-time officers off the streets — giving them full pay, benefits, and overtime for union work — in addition to providing thousands of additional release-time hours for the union to dole out at its discretion. Altogether, more than 40 police officers can be released from some or all of their law-enforcement duties by the union.
The Goldwater Institute contends that beyond endangering public safety, the release time is an unconstitutional subsidy, violating the gift clause of the Arizona Constitution by using taxpayer money to fund salaries of union and labor association leaders who represent city employees. Goldwater filed the complaint in December 2011.
During the hearing Friday, Bolick pointed out that the city couldn’t quantify the direct benefits it receives for what it spends on release time for the officers who conduct union business. The gift clause requires the city to prove it receives direct, tangible benefits from money it gives to a private entity, he said. Bolick also said the city didn’t have a clear way of tracking how union officers spend their release time.
“The union has hijacked the city’s treasury to fulfill its responsibilities,” Bolick said.
Despite the pending lawsuit, earlier this month the Phoenix City Council approved a new two-year labor contract for PLEA. The contract, set to begin July 1, continues the indefensible “release time” practice.
Did you feel the pang of a sharp thumb in your eye from your council member? If not, it’s because the council aims to keep such information under wraps.
Former Dallas Police Assistant Chief takes reins of nation’s 6th largest city
Phoenix City Manager David Cavazos has named Daniel V. Garcia to head the Phoenix Police Deparment.
Other finalists included acting Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner, Phoenix Assistant Police Chief Kevin Robinson and to former San Jose Police Chief Robert Davis.
The Phoenix Police Department has approximately 3,055 sworn officers and a budget of over $500 million. Garcia is expected to begin his new assignment in May.
Here is Garcia’s 13-page redacted résumé, courtesy of the daily newspaper.
Numerous violations cited
Attorney General Tom Horne has found evidence that the Quartzsite Town Council has violated Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws (A.R.S. §§ 38-431 et. seq.) in connection with the conduct of Town Council meetings and dealings with a member of the public.
In this letter to Quartzsite Town Attorney Martin Brannan, Horne notes that on June 28, 2011, while addressing the Council, Quartzsite resident Jennifer Jones was removed from the meeting by a vote of the council. She had turned her back on the council and was addressing the audience, which the council reasonably could object to. Public bodies can eject members of the public for disruptive conduct, but they must first give a warning, which the council failed to do.
The second violation occurred on July 10, 2011 in which the Council convened an emergency meeting on at the Town Hall to discuss disruptions during previous meetings. The Council locked the doors to the meeting room and did not allow any member of the public to attend its meeting. Excluding the public from this meeting violated the Open Meeting Law.
In the third and related violation, Attorney General Horne notes that the Council did not fully comply with the posting requirements for emergency meetings. As of December 9, 2011, the minutes of the emergency meeting were not posted on the Town website.
The final violation involves the failure to comply with posting requirements for Notices and Minutes.
The Council did not post minutes for the July 10, 2011 emergency meeting. In addition, the Council failed to post minutes for a number of its meetings labeled as “work sessions.”
As a remedy, Horne has made the following recommendations:
– The Council will discuss the concerns listed in this letter with its legal counsel in open session during a properly noticed public meeting.
– Each member of the Council and staff will participate in a training session with counsel from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns regarding the requirements of the Open Meeting Laws.
– The Council will be subject to oversight by the Attorney General’s Office for a period of twelve months.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne presents Arizonans with a rare opportunity this afternoon. Horne will argue Tucson v. Arizona before the Arizona Supreme Court at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, December 6, at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, 1 Global Place, Glendale, AZ 85306 (Map)
The case centers on a 2009 state law, A.R.S. 9-821.01, a law requiring cities to have non-partisan elections and prohibit some at-large elections.
The prohibited system, now used in Tucson (but this statute would also prevent other cities from adopting that system) tends to disenfranchise voters in districts where the majority is different than the overall majority in that city. In a number of districts, the voters have been represented by someone who lost in their district.
Earlier, the state Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Tucson’s argument that this was purely a local matter and the Legislature had no right to pass laws on the subject. The Arizona Supreme Court granted review, and Horne will argue that the State does have a legitimate interest and that the statute is valid.
You can also watch the proceedings live at http://azcourts.gov/AZSupremeCourt/LiveArchivedVideo.aspx
Note: After accessing the page, scroll down and you will see the Tucson v. Arizona case under “Upcoming Events.” Next to the case you will see “case summary.” Once the argument goes live at 2:00 p.m. “oral argument” will appear next to “case summary.” Select the “oral argument” text and the feed will appear.
The five-member Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has voted 3-2 to reject pay increases for two top-level county administrators already making six-figure salaries.
Supervisors Fulton Brock, Andy Kunasek and Max Wilson opposed the pay raises for Steve Wetzel, director of the county’s Office of Enterprise Technology and Risk Management Director Rocky Armfield.
Tone-deaf Supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox actually voted in favor of the increases. Had the raises gone through, Wetzel’s annual salary would have increased to $213,803, from $194,480. Armfield’s would have risen to $132,018, from $125,362 a year.
The increases were proposed by the equally obtuse Maricopa County Office of Management and Budget.
The daily has more here. Pay particular attention that these two were singled out for raises during a merit-based pay freeze because they claimed to have received job offers outside of county government and County Manager David Smith recommended offering them salary increases to retain them. This practice of “counter offers” has resulted in hikes from 0.83 percent to 25.98 percent for 14 employees over the past five years.
Those privileged employees are with the Assessor’s Office, Human Services, County Manager’s Office, Recorder’s Office, Education Service Agency, Planning and Development, Office of Management and Budget, Elections and Public Health Departments.
Maricopa County appears to be in the mode of emulating the City of Phoenix. Earlier this year the shameless wizards known as city officials — such as the unelected City Manager David Cavazos – decided that it was appropriate for the cash-strapped city with a $59 million budget deficit to gift nearly $29 million in performance pay raises and longevity awards to employees. Cavazos was hired at a whopping $236,995. You’ll recall residents were told Phoenix was in such dire straits, it needed to impose a 2 percent tax on food to defray the impending fiscal disaster.
What the heck, it’s only taxpayer’s money.