On June 23rd, 2015 at the Glendale City Council meeting Justin Harris, President Glendale Law Enforcement Association (GLEA) and Co-chair of Glendale Police Officers Association, stood up in the public comments section of the meeting to make comments about the Recall Committees for CMs Turner and Tolmachoff.
(Please note Harris is allowed by the mayor to speak until 34:00, two minutes and thirty two seconds more than the three minutes allowed during the public comments section of the meeting.)
He said (paraphrased) that I, Bea Wyatt, Treasurer of Glendale First!, a sponsoring committee to the two recall efforts, was simply a hockey fan (outside interest) and that when interviewed on NBCSports1060, stated that the Glendale City council diverted money from public safety. Harris went on to say I was misinformed, not provided the information or that I flat out lied to rile up support for recall. Harris further went on to state that I said Turner and Tolmachoff did not support public safety. So let’s be clear.
I did not say that Tolmachoff and Turner did not support public safety. What I did say was that this council, which voted 5-2 for the current budget (the same 5-2 that voted to void the Coyotes contract), would rather place the funds from the .7% additional sales tax into a contingency (rainy day) fund than to spend those funds on public safety.
This sales tax was voted on by the city council in 2012. It was subject to a ballot initiative (Prop 457), one which would have reversed the increased tax and required all future tax increases to be voted on by ballot measure.
Glendale First! worked with residents and business owners AND with Glendale Law Enforcement Association (GLEA) of which Mr. Harris was the President , to defeat this initiative. I had direct communications with Mr. Harris’s office regarding this sales tax. Mr. Harris’ comments are still on the Glendale First! website. The citizens defeated the initiative and kept the .7% sales tax for public safety.
This council has chosen to send those sales tax funds to the rainy day fund – while public safety is still an issue. One only needs to watch the COG City Council Workshop meeting of April 21, 2014 to hear about the deficiencies.
Police Chief Black and Assistant Chief St. John provided information and answered questions regarding police response times. The national standard for on time response for Priority 1 and Priority 2 calls is under 5:00 minutes. Priority 1 and 2 calls are active crimes, homicides, break-ins, felonies, violent crime, and rapes. The GPD has a goal to meet this standard for 90% of all calls, meaning that they want to respond to these level 1 & 2 calls in less than 5 minutes 90% of the time.
During the council session, Assistant Chief St. John states they are not hitting those response times for these calls. The actual response time is 77% for Priority 1 and 56% for Priority 2. Let’s hope you are not the one being raped, attacked or having an intruder breaking into your home in the middle of the night.
The desired response times for Priority 3 and 4 calls have target times of 15 minutes and 35 minutes respectively. The GPD is meeting those response times much better; 88.4% for Priority 3 and 98.8% for Priority 4 crimes.
Fire Chief Mark Burdick spoke after the Police, and he stated Glendale Fire (like the police) did not have the response times they desire. Chief Burdick states the national response time benchmark is 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Glendale’s response time is 8 minutes and 11 seconds on 90 percent of calls. To put response times in perspective, Chief Burdick discussed the American Heart Association rule of brain death occurring in 4 to 6 minutes and the drowning response benchmark is 5 minutes and 12 seconds. Burdick said these optimal benchmark response times are achievable with additional resources.
CM Tolmachoff stated that she wished the city had the money to give the fire department everything they wanted. She stated that public safety is the first responsibility to the citizens.
The reality is that the council has the funds to provide support to public safety. Even with existing budgetary challenges, the City managed to increase the balance of the contingency fund significantly without redirecting the sales tax revenue. The equipment and manpower for emergency services could be filled with the .7% sales tax, as it was intended, instead of to putting the sales tax monies into the contingency fund.
Justin Harris worked to defeat Prop 457 to secure the tax increase, as did Glendale First!, on the platform of the .7% sales tax being necessary for public safety. Now Harris is okay with the funds being shifted from public safety to a contingency fund.
When Mr. Harris stood up in a meeting and told the Mayor and the four Council members who voted for the budget, as well as the Citizens of Glendale that everything is fine with police and public safety, that he supports the council; is he being honest about his comfort with the level of public safety in Glendale? Is he misrepresenting the facts, or is he, as he accused me, flat out lying? The citizens of Glendale are paying higher sales taxes. Public safety response times are not good.
Sales tax dollars are going into a contingency fund for a rainy day. Those are facts, which are supported by the budget discussions, videos, agendas and minutes provided by the city of Glendale. (www.glendaleaz.com)
So I guess, to my friends that live in the city of Glendale, if it is your child drowning in a pool, or your grandmother having a heart attack, or your home being broken into the middle of the night, how rainy is your day?