The Jake Files

April 19, 2006

Freeway Endorsed in Ahwatukee

From AZCentral.com:

 3 SE Valley mayors endorse freeway in Ahwatukee

Betty Beard
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 20, 2006 12:00 AM

The mayors of Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert on Wednesday endorsed construction of the South Mountain Freeway in Ahwatukee Foothills, an action likely to irritate freeway opponents and many residents of the isolated Phoenix community.

Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn, Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker, and Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman issued a joint statement calling the freeway "a critical part of our regional freeway system" that can cut travel times across the Valley.

"It's a key element in our regional transportation system and will alleviate a lot of traffic on our arterial streets," Dunn said in an interview. (snip)

Dunn, who said he has always supported the South Mountain portion, called it unfortunate that Phoenix allowed homes to be built in the alignment. Chandler did not allow such construction along Loop 202, he noted.

The proposed 22- to 26-mile freeway, which would run along Pecos Road and the southern end of Ahwatukee Foothills, has drawn opposition from residents there because at least 217 homes would have to be razed. Opponents also cite noise and pollution.

The Amazing Jake has two observations on this story.  (more…)

Becky Jackson Fails to Take Position on Pentz

From today's AZCentral.com, by Edythe Jensen:

"It's like having your team win the pennant and you decide to fire the coach," Dunn said. "Things are going so well in this city and you have the majority of the City Council with two lame ducks telling Mark, 'You're out of here because we don't like the way you handled us personally.' That's upsetting a lot of people."
Councilman Bob Caccamo is leading the charge to rehire Pentz and getting into the e-mail volley. He has sent several to Pentz supporters urging them to vote May 16 for Jeff Weninger and Trinity Donovan for two open City Council seats. Weninger has said he wants to rehire Pentz and Donovan has been critical of the way the review was conducted. The third candidate, Becky Jackson, has not taken a position on the issue, but she has backing from the four incumbents who forced out the manager – Matt Orlando, Martin Sepulveda, Donna Wallace and Phill Westbrooks. (emphasis mine)

Those who pushed to fire Pentz are defending their position. The controversy has more to do with politics than fairness, Pentz detractor Martin Sepulveda said. He suspects the e-mails on the eve of an election "are part of an organized effort, the same usual suspects stirring the pot."

Why is it so difficult for Becky Jackson to form an opinion?  Is it because she doesn't want people to know how she truly feels?  Is it because she fears taking a contrary position to her supporters on the Council?  Or is it because she just lacks leadership?

Contact Becky Jackson at becky@jackson4chandler.com or becky@chandlerchamber.com to ask her.  Just don't expect a response. 

April 18, 2006

Chandler Primary Campaign Finance Reports

Not sure how I missed this over the weekend:

All three candidates in next month's City Council runoff election have spent more on their campaigns than what they would make in a year if they were elected, according to finance reports filed this week.

Council members, who serve four-year terms, are paid $13,500; the mayor, who serves a two-year term, gets $26,500.

Becky Jackson reported spending the most to date – $36,483. Jeff Weninger spent $21,366; Trinity Donovan $16,852.

All received campaign contributions from local leaders and political action committees. State Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, a former Chandler mayor, gave $200 each to Donovan and Weninger. Jackson got $150 from former Chandler Councilwoman Patti Bruno.

You can see the reports here. (h/t Geo)

April 14, 2006

Political Immaturity on the Council

Marshall Terrill of the Chandler Connection gets a few quotes on the City Manager affair.  Sample:

Dismissal leaves residents puzzled
That viewpoint seemed to be in direct contrast to the overflow crowd of approximately 200 residents, community and business leaders, city staff and department heads, a majority of who appeared to be in support of Pentz.
Resident Michael Cason said the problem isn’t Pentz, but a few of his bosses.
“We’re pleased with the city manager, please leave him at his post,” Cason said. “I would argue this is not about his performance at all. It’s demonstrative of political immaturity.” (emphasis mine)

Drunk with Power!

AZCentral.com has today's money quote from Jeff Weninger:

"I'm shocked and incredibly disappointed; they're arrogant and drunk with power," said Weninger, a restaurant owner who has political endorsements from the three Pentz supporters on the seven-member council. "If I'm elected, I would like to bring Mark Pentz back if he wants to come back. The man has shown tremendous character."

 Read the whole thing.

April 13, 2006

Vote in AZCentral.com’s Chandler City Council/Mark Pentz Poll

AZCentral.com has a poll on the handling of Mark Pentz's employment by the Chandler City Council.  You can cast your vote here (the poll is in the lefthand sidebar).

April 12, 2006

East Valley Trib Article: Chandler Manager Bows to Council

Chris Markham has a good summary of Monday's events, including the separation agreement, who voted for it, and the potential for a recall against several councilmembers.  Read it all here.  Excerpt:

Chandler manager bows to council

By Chris Markham, Tribune

April 12, 2006

Despite residents and city employees showing considerable support for Chandler’s city manager, the City Council forced his resignation after a nearly 10-hour job review that stretched past 2 a.m. Tuesday.

“He got a raw deal,” Councilman Bob Caccamo said Tuesday afternoon of the council’s decision to accept the resignation of City Manager Mark Pentz in exchange for the executive’s agreement not to take the city to court.

“It had everything to do with a four-vote, lame-duck majority,” Caccamo said, referring to Vice Mayor Phill Westbrooks and council members Matt Orlando, Donna Wallace and Martin Sepulveda, all of whom were critical of Pentz during his review.

The separation agreement entitles Pentz to a severance package that includes 15 months of regular pay with a 4 percent raise and car allowance, 18 months of health insurance premiums and seven months of retirement contributions that in total will cost Chandler nearly $260,000, according to city estimates.

Westbrooks, Orlando, Wallace, Sepulveda and Mayor Boyd Dunn voted to accept the agreement. Dunn, who supported the city manager during his review, said his vote was aimed at “making sure Mark was treated fair.”

 I'm not sure how I feel about a recall at this point.  I'm generally not in favor of recalls on principle – you cast your vote for the candidate you most agree with, then trust they will act responsibly on your behalf based on the commitments they make during their campaign.  If you don't like what they've done, you have the opportunity to vote against them if they choose to run for re-election. 

I have to say I'm pretty upset about the conduct of Sepulveda and Orlando in this sordid affair.  Not only did a good man have his reputation smeared and his career derailed by pettiness, but the City has to bear the substantial costs of his severance agreement (which he DESERVES based on his treatment).  Those costs also include the time and expense of a search for a new manager, the loss of reputation for our fine city (who's going to want that job now?), and the loss of leadership momentum as we move forward with downtown redevelopment, traffic issues, buildout issues, etc.

I'm not certain how to feel about this fledgling recall effort – I could go either way at this point.  But I am outraged at the conduct of the city council.

By the way, did you see Jeff Weninger's outspoken stand in favor of City Manager Mark Pentz, and the prediction on what it would cost to replace him?  I wonder where the other potential candidates stand on the issue.  Email Becky Jackson at becky@jackson4council.com and Trinity Donovan at trinityforchandler@gmail.com

April 11, 2006

Roundup on the City Manager Controversy

UPDATE:  11:40am

AZCentral.com has an updated story by Edythe Jensen here:

At 2 a.m. Tuesday, and after it became obvious there were four votes to fire Pentz, the city council accepted a separation agreement from the manager's attorney. It gives Pentz more than double the payouts required in his contract but gets rid of him without threats of lawsuits.

The agreement has Pentz working until May 1. He then will go on paid administrative leave for three months and would resign effective Aug. 1.
The move, which is expected to cost taxpayers more than $250,000, came after a crowd of city employees, residents and business leaders showed up to support the manager. Of about 150 who packed the council chambers when the meeting started at 3:30 p.m., nearly 50 stayed until the 2 a.m. conclusion.  (snip)

The agreement, drawn up by Cohen, has Pentz receiving a 4 percent increase in base salary retroactive to Jan. 19, 2006. On July 31, the city will pay him 12 months of base salary and 12 months of car allowance. On Aug. 1, Pentz will receive $3,000 for expenses associated with a job search.

Pentz, 55, was hired in 2004 and is paid $167,280 annually. A former city manager for Rockville, Md., Pentz is Chandler's third chief executive in six years. He succeeded Donna Dreska who was on the job a year when she resigned under fire in 2003 after the council agreed to pay her about $100,000 in severance concessions.

So let me get this straight.  The City Council paid $100 grand 3 years ago to get rid of city Manager Donna Dreska.  Now they're going to pay more than $250 grand to get rid of Mark Pentz?  When the city economy is booming and local business leaders voice support for him?  Are they nuts?  This is fiscally irresponsible.  I wish Mr. Pentz well.  He deserves respect, and he deserves to walk away with what he received.
 

Yesterday's East Valley Tribune has some background on the issue, but no new story reporting on what happened last night. 

The Republic has info here, and background here, and here.  Interesting about the number of people that initially attended (c. 150).  Watching the proceedings after midnight last night, it looked like a handful were still there.  The story was filed at midnight, with no resolution reported.

The Chandler Independent has nothing (as of 9:15am).

The San Tan Sun Times won't publish again until this weekend, but they'll probably have a good blow-by-blow description.

The Wrangler News independent paper, the Chandler Connection, the Phoenix Business Journal, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Chandler website all have nothing.

Geo's Precinct 134 linked to our post from last night (thanks!), but no new information.

Reader A.M. left the following comment that leads me to believe the council accepted the terms of the proposed severance agreement:

What did I tell you? It made me want to puke. Pentz got a lot of money, but they won’t be able to be sued. I wonder if in the executive session the City Attorney politely told Orlando et al what dumbasses they are and that they better take the deal, because they were definitely going to get sued otherwise. Can’t wait for the recalls to start. Our city needs to be free of those two incompetents. Thank God for term limits, too (Westbrooks and Wallace).
Good luck finding a job, BTW. I hear there’s a city manager position open here in Chandler. No one in their right mind would take it, however. . .

Comment by A.M. — April 11, 2006 @ 2:43 am

So what is one to do if they want the full story?  I guess I'll have to watch the rest of the meeting that I Tivo'd.  But, as A.M. reminds me, I am still looking for a new job, so council-watching and additional blogging will have to wait until tonight. 

And, thanks for the suggestion A.M., but based on the way this council has treated their current City Manager, I don't think I care to dip my toe into that shark tank.  Hard to imagine who would.

Railroading by the Chandler City Council

So, I never made it to the public ass reaming performance appraisal for the Chandler City Manager, Mark Pentz, which started at 3:30pm today yesterday.  It's now 12:30am, and it's still going on, live, on the public access channel.

I set the DVR to record the meeting so I could watch it later.  Flipping channels around 10pm I found what I thought was the re-broadcast.  I quickly found the proceedings to alternate between interesting, in the councilmembers' focus on minutiae of how quickly Mr. Pentz responded to requests, and mind-numbingly dull.

Being the multi-tasker I am, I decided to check out YouTube, which I've heard much about, but haven't really checked out yet.  That was MUCH more entertaining.  Some videos that were MORE entertaining than Martin Sepulveda's head spinning around included:

Interpretation of a Fallout Boy Song  (hysterical!)

Pachelbel's Canon – Guitar Style  (this guy's talented)

Urban Ninja  (guy with a serious Spiderman complex)

Art-Rash Megamix Video  (hilarious!)

So, I started paying a bit more attention to the council meeting when Mark Pentz's attorney addressed the council.  This is apparently, according to some of the comments, NOT the rebroadcast – they're actually still there LIVE after midnight. The attorney seems like a pretty bright and competent guy, in contrast to the councilmembers who are asking dumb questions about the meaning of the severance agreement the attorney proposed in the event a termination is voted.  Right now, Councilmember Orlando is holding forth on points that Mr. Pentz has "acknowledged" mishandling, and is cross examining him like an attorney in a courtroom.  Now he's asking Mr. Pentz about his professional relationships with prior city council members (in other cities he's managed).  A few minutes ago, Mr. Pentz's attorney was explaining the difference between dismissal for no reason (at-will) and for a BAD reason (which can be litigated in an at-will state).  It seems to me that holding someone accountable, under the cloak of a performance appraisal, for actions taken prior to being employed with the current organization, would be a BAD reason to fire someone.  Orlando is an idiot, and the City deserves to get sued if they fire Pentz.

This is tedious.  I'm going to bed.  Good luck Mr. Pentz, I hope you have a job tomorrow.

March 15, 2006

Dunn, Caccamo Re-elected; Runoff Set for May

Mayor Dunn has been re-elected, as has Councilmember Bob Caccamo.  Congratulations to both, and regrets to Frank Peake and Rick Heumann after their elimination from the runoff.

The remaining council candidates will square off in the May runoff.

Incumbent City Councilman Bob Caccamo won his re-election bid in Chandler’s seven-way council race Tuesday. Four candidates, Trinity Donovan, Becky Jackson, Chris Stage and Jeff Weninger, will square off in a May runoff for the remaining two seats.

 

Candidates Frank Peake and Rick Heumann were eliminated in Tuesday’s primary election.

Donovan, 28, an executive with Valley of the Sun United Way, led the runoff pack in votes counted Tuesday.

Amazing Jake will be taking a break from election coverage to allow the dust to settle before further prognostications.  I will, however offer this. 

Traffic on this blog increased substantially over the past few days.  While we are by no means a Powerline or Instapundit, we are the only blog out there posting opinion on these local races, and as such, have had some interest from those seeking information about the candidates and their opinions. 

I suspect that the runoff will get even more contentious now that the Mayoral race has been established.  The Dunn/Caccamo/Huggins voting bloc remains intact, while the Westbrooks/Orlando/Sepulveda/Wallace bloc will now be down to just Orlando and Sepulveda.  That will make the next couple of months interesting as candidates curry favor with various interest groups.

My advice to candidates?  Make your positions known publicly.  Don’t make people guess where you stand on the issues.  Make it easy for people to understand your priorities and convictions by putting all your information on a website.  Name recognition is good for getting votes from the sheep lazy less informed, but people who are truly interested expect more than big pretty signs.

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