The Jake Files

April 28, 2006

Chandler Police Weigh in on Mark Pentz

Filed under: Arizona,Chandler,City Council,Mark Pentz,Politics — Amazing Jake @ 10:12 am

I'm catching up on the rest of Wednesday's debate so I can finish yesterday's post on it, but had to stop and point your attention to a comment posted by reader Paul Babeu, police officer and President of the Chandler Law Enforcement Association (CLEA).  The comment related to the Mark Pentz firing and provides background information from the perspective of the CLEA.  The comment was posted on an old topic and can be found here.  Excerpt:

 CLEA President and Chandler Police Officer Paul Babeu came before your body to express his distrust in Mark Pentz and to publicly report Mr. Pentz’s threat made on February 22, 2006 during a meeting in his office. Mr. Pentz threatened Officer Babeu, while acting in his capacity as President of CLEA, to deny a proposed salary increase for Police Officers. Mr. Pentz said while pointing to the $3.5 million figure in the budget, “we do not have to give this to you, I can simply say No, so be careful what you say publicly and how you refer to me.”

So, I don't have an opinion as to the truth of what happened in a closed door meeting between two individuals.  According to the same comment (which was the text of a letter sent to the Mayor and City Council), Mr. Pentz reported a difference of opinion as to the tone or intention of his comments.

I do find one thing interesting though.  Becky Jackson has declined to state a position on whether she would vote to rehire Mark Pentz.  Becky Jackson's husband is a police officer (in Phoenix).  The officers' association is upset about a threat (real or perceived) to withhold a pay raise.  You connect the dots.

Meanwhile, it's back to the replay of the debate.  Tune in later for my completed analysis.



  1. If there is even the slightest grain of truth to this, it would reflect extremely poorly on Pentz.

    While Jackson’s coy stance on Pentz might be dismissed because of some tenuous thread of self-interest (though I think it’s a pretty big stretch – she’s coy on every issue, it seems) it seems much less easy to so dismiss CLEA’s original complaint.

    If, as I say, there is any truth to CLEA’s comments, then it would seem to support what some on the Council were concerned with: namely, that Mark Pentz may not have always had very constructive interactions with some members of our community during his tenure.

    It’s really hard to say one way or the other. But here’s testimony, at least, from some key folks in our community that seems to directly support those on the Council who were less than happy with Pentz.

    Comment by Geo — April 28, 2006 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  2. Hey Jake,

    I don’t know if you noticed, but Officer Babeu has agreed to an email interview. I have 4-6 clarifying questions and he’ll respond. If you (or your readers) have any questions you’d like him to address, please let me know asap and I’ll try to fit it in. I’ll probably send the questions to him in about 24 hours.

    Also, I think Matt Orlando will be responding to my 6 questions within the coming week.


    Comment by Geo — April 28, 2006 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  3. “Some key folks?” I only see one, and no, I don’t believe him. I don’t count the two who wanted to complain about Covance.

    Comment by A.M. — April 28, 2006 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

  4. AM, “some key folks” refers to the fact that Babeu actually is speaking on behalf of the Board of CLEA.

    I understand your not considering the others’ complaints, but that is, essentially, an arbitrary decision on your part to do so.

    I wonder why you don’t believe Babeu on this? Which part do you not believe? Do you have inside information you could share?

    I’m not so credulous to accept everything anyone says at face value, but it seems unfounded to simply say you don’t believe any of what he’s saying, unless you have additional information. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Geo — April 29, 2006 @ 1:10 am | Reply

  5. Oh, and AM, if you have any questions you’d like me to pose to Officer Babeu, please let me know today. I’ll send my interview to him this afternoon.

    Comment by Geo — April 29, 2006 @ 1:11 am | Reply

  6. FYI, I’ve sent off the interview questions and will post them and Officer Babeu’s responses when I receive it.


    Comment by Geo — April 29, 2006 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  7. Sorry, I’ve been busy of late.
    Officer Babeu is speaking on behalf of the CLEA council, but this is all based on his own personal experience–or rather, his perception of his interaction with the city manager. I don’t believe Officer Babeu, because no one else reported any such a threatening interaction with the City Manager, and from what I’ve seen, Officer Babeau himself is hot-headed and egotistical. I also would like to point out the 360 review, which the 4 members of the Countil ignored. Mr. Pentz received high marks not only from subordinates, but from relative equals (boards/commissions members).

    Comment by A.M — May 1, 2006 @ 12:26 pm | Reply

  8. Minutes have been posted of the special meeting where the day/time was set for Mr. Pentz’s contract discussion/firing (April 3). Pretty interesting reading: Starts on p.206

    Comment by A.M — May 1, 2006 @ 12:42 pm | Reply

  9. I’ve just received Officer Babeu’s first six responses to my interview questions. It’s worth a read.

    In his responses, he notes two things pretty significant:

    1. That all eight board members are backing him on this. If he were an egotistical hothead, and unbelievable, it would seem less likely that he’d have unanimous support from the rest of the CLEA board.

    2. He notes that the 360 reviews that were requested were arranged for by Pentz himself, with the possibility that the reviewers’ comments could be learned by City Manager Pentz. If that is true, then Officer Babeu is quite right to say that they should be dismissed as reliable reviews.

    Having been a part of reviews many times (indeed, just this past week, I wrote 360 review feedback for four subordinates), I can tell you that when people suspect their feedback will not remain confidential, all hope of getting reliable criticism goes out the window. And if the person being reviewed is a boss, you are likely to get very glowing comments, even when the person is a mediocre (or worse) worker.

    If the content of Pentz’s 360 reviews were possibly going to be shared with Pentz and the reviewers’ names associated with their comments, then the reviews are worse than worthless – they probably would give an inaccurate picture of Pentz’s effectiveness and rapport with his subordinates and peers.

    Comment by Geo — May 1, 2006 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

  10. Having read the minutes of the April 3 meeting wherein it was decided to set the date and time, I begin to have less concerns for a “gang of four” conspiracy and more concerns about what else is going on in the room.

    I’ve been in Executive Committee / Board sessions, both as a member of the EC / Board, as the Chair of the EC/Board and as a Director/CEO interacting with and being held accountable by the EC/Board, dozens of times over several years.

    I can smell the politics percolating up from episodes like this. What’s beginning to smell worst to me is the way Pentz and his allies appear to be gaming this whole thing to ratchet up the stakes. I’ve seen people do this very thing in front of my own eyes and it feels the exact same way.

    So here’s a lesson in how to undermine a personnel review that you think is going to reflect poorly on you, based on a pattern I’ve seen before:

    First, arrange for feedback from subordinates and colleagues that will possibly not remain confidential feedback, knowing that this will engender feedback inflating your rating.

    Second, demand a public personnel review – which is your right, but which is normally done in private for very good reasons. Because you know that in a public forum, the inflated reviews will be trumpeted about and there will be greater pressure on any detractors to back down.

    Third, secure legal counsel. Because you knows this will quench criticisms and raise the bar for any negative feedback, not to mention intimidate anyone who might be tempted to speak against you.

    Fourth, jockey for a time and a venue which will have the most public presence in attendance, so that the natural political tensions inherent in any large, public meeting can obfuscate the fact that it’s supposed to be about a personnel review, so your friends can chime in with their compliments and the natural partisans in the audience will find their own reasons to defend you simply because they don’t like people who are reviewing you negatively. If you play this well, you can pull it off like the Apostle Paul got the Pharisees and the Saducees to bicker with each other.

    Pentz isn’t stupid. Even if he has the best of motives, he surely knows that what he’s doing will make anyone on the Council that criticizes him look bad and have to pay a political price. And guess what? That’s exactly what’s happening.

    As Councilman Sepulveda said, it’s irregular that such a personnel review would be held in public, it’s a little shocking that Pentz would have hired counsel, and the whole thing was being turned into a three-ring circus, diverting attention from the review and contract.

    And when you hear Ray Pilara (who goes on and launches a recall effort) and Jeff Weninger (who’s running for Council) making complaints even at this meeting about the four council members “wanting to fire” Pentz, even before the actual review meeting, something smells very, very fishy.

    As I say, I’ve spent so much time in this kind of setting, I can smell and feel when there’s a destructive political dynamic going on. It’s like an oily stain on everything that’s being said. There’s more here than just some vindictive “gang of four” conspiracy theory, however convenient a frame as that may be. I don’t know what the whole story is, but I’m not so naive as to think that Mr. Pentz and Mayor Dunn are pure as the driven snow in all of this.

    Comment by Geo — May 1, 2006 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

  11. According to the special meeting where Mr. Pentz’s contract was discussed, the 360 review wasn’t in the original scope of work but rather done at the request of the City Manager. It was professionally done with privacy of respondents protected, and this was made clear to the respondents. This was a confidential evaluation done by a professional consultant. He collected and analyzed the information in his office. The identifying information was kept confidential and not shared with the City Manager. The consultant followed up by interviewing with six Council appointees/city staff and did not find evidence that there was a “culture of fear” in the organization.

    These were not only subordinates, but also some equals—all of the Council appointees plus the City manager’s direct reports, all of the department directors, all three employee organizations. This equals the entire management team plus the unions. They did not pick and choose people to include.

    The City Manager only asked for the review to be in public when it became clear that the four were gunning for him, and he was smart to have done this. He was also smart to hire legal counsel–this is his livelihood and his professional reputation that will be affected. His legal counsel helped him draft the “separation agreement” that the Council ended up agreeing to–a nice chunk of change.

    Do you know anyone on the inside of this thing? The people I know who are involved in the workings of the city are disgusted with the actions of the four on the Council.

    Comment by A.M. — May 3, 2006 @ 12:26 am | Reply

  12. officer babeu is a good friend of mine when he lived here in the berkshire we all miss him he is and always will be special his friends from mass zita donna

    Comment by donna hall — May 20, 2006 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

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