Posts Tagged ‘Gilbert Councilmember Eddie Cook’

Captain Rick: Our cities welcome federal grant money, thinking the federal government has an endless supply of money that can be spent on anything its heart desires. The fact is the U.S. general fund is bankrupt, spending $1.1 trillion more than revenue received. Most federal grant dollars dished out by HUD are dollars printed with red ink…that add directly to the U.S. National Debt. Its time local government says NO to spending this red ink.

Three Gilbert Arizona Councilmembers have come forward to set an example for America to follow by placing their vote of NO for receiving federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They are American pioneers. I hope other state and local representatives across America will pay attention to their lead and join the journey to save America form fiscal ruin.

The issue presented to the Gilbert, Arizona Town Council on April 4, 2013: Item 20: HUD Federal Grant of $748,764 for the benefit of low/medium income residents and to alleviate conditions of slum and blight, of which 20% ($149,753) is approved for administrative costs.

Councilmember statements presented during the meeting

image Jared Taylor

We have 16.8 trillion in national debt. Every day since Sep 28, 2007 we have added $3.86 billion to our national debt. The money for this appropriation doesn’t really exist. It may be something that congress passes on a bill, but the United States government is absolutely broke at the federal level. The local and state levels have constitutions and statutes that require us to have balanced budgets. The national government doesn’t and the are running massive deficits and so while they pass these allocations that say there is money available, it doesn’t exist. We are borrowing money from the Federal Reserve and its loaned money from China. That concerns me. What we are doing is putting a future burden on our children and that is not fair.

image Eddie Cook

The federal government doesn’t have the money. If we believe these are things we need to do, lets do it on our own dime…our own money. Taking federal money is just not the right decision at this point.

image Victor Petersen

Where we have power, we have responsibility. Tonight we have power over some of those funds. If we are going to participate in that federal spending, I don’t think it’s a good choice and I don’t think we can resolve ourselves of that responsibility. We need to temper our anxiety. If we do that I think we loose our moral position to complain about spending at the federal government.

image

Captain Rick’s PROPER VOTE Award: I have awarded Councilmembers Petersen, Taylor and Cook for their ‘Proper Vote’ of ‘NO’. Their awards have been added to my Gilbert Council Scorecard:

Captain Rick’s Gilbert Council Scorecard: My scorecard keeps track of all of the ‘Proper Votes’ from previous important and controversial votes:  https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Info from previous reports:

Federal Grants: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/federal-grants/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

Fiscal Cliff 101: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

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Captain Rick: I am one of Gilbert Arizona’s ‘eagles’ who keep a close eye on our Town Council to help guide our great community in the proper direction. I love my town … the place I have called home for a long time. With a population of nearly a quarter million, one of America’s fastest growing cities, Gilbert is no longer the small town of 60,000 it was when I moved to Gilbert in 1997. Since then I have viewed every town council meeting to stay abreast of what is happening in Gilbert. That’s a lot of meetings, that required a lot of my time … time that I believe was well spent. In mid 2011, I began my “Proper Vote Scorecard” to keep track of how Gilbert council members vote on controversial issues. I consider a PROPER VOTE to be one that is truly in the best interest of Gilbert citizens … one that is fiscally responsible and free of politics and private agendas.

Gilbert Arizona Town Council: October 25, 2012: Item 34: Planning Commission Alternate Appointment

Several alternatives were presented to council which included:

a) appoint an alternate from the highest-ranking candidate

b) conduct interviews with the two next highest ranking candidates

c) conduct interviews with all seven applicants

Council Actions:

Council member John Sentz suggested selecting one of the lower scoring applicants of the seven applicants.

Council member Victor Petersen made a motion to select b). Council member Eddie Cook seconded.

A vote of 6/1 resulted:

image

Council members casting the PROPER VOTE of YES:

Victor Petersen

Eddie Cook

Ben Cooper

Mayor John Lewis

Jordan Ray

Jenn Daniels

The above PROPER VOTES have been recorded on my ongoing …

PROPER VOTE SCORECARD: https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

Captain Rick: I love my town of Gilbert, Arizona, USA … the place I have called home for a long time. With a population of nearly a quarter million, one of America’s fastest growing cities, Gilbert is no longer the small town of 60,000 it was when I moved to Gilbert in 1997. Since then I have viewed every town council meeting to stay abreast of what is happening in Gilbert. That’s a lot of meetings, that required a lot of my time … time that I believe was well spent. I am one of Gilbert’s ‘eagles’ who keep a close eye on our Town Council to help guide our great community in the proper direction.

In mid 2011, I began my “Proper Vote Scorecard” to keep track of how Gilbert council members vote on controversial issues. I consider a PROPER VOTE to be one that is truly in the best interest of Gilbert citizens … one that is fiscally responsible and free of politics and private agendas.

In September 2012 I began reporting on each PROPER VOTE in separate blog entries. Many contain dialog with council members to gain their perspective to enhance citizen understanding.

Gilbert Arizona Town Council: October 4, 2012: Item 10: $15,000 to fund educational services for people in HOAs

CONTRACTconsider approval of Accountability Contract No. 2012-1003-0313 with the Leadership Centre in an amount not to exceed $15,000 in FY2013 related to providing educational services for persons living or providing homeowner association services in Gilbert, and authorize the Mayor to execute the required documents.

For those not familiar with the term ‘HOA’, it means ‘Home Owner Association’. Every new community established in Gilbert has an HOA, which is responsible for the upkeep of all parks and common grounds within the community, often including landscaping along the boulevards and its medians. All home owners in an HOA pay monthly dues to cover these expenses … me included.

Council members Victor Petersen and Eddie Cook voted against this measure. Based on council testimony, it appeared that they cast the PROPER VOTE, but I asked both to offer clarification so that my readers would understand why a vote of NO was proper. The following email conversation transpired:

Victor Petersen:  This item took me a long time to reason through. It was disturbing because I did find some valid complaints on the side of the HOAs claiming injustices imposed by the town. I had to acknowledge those injustices, but at the end of the day, I didn’t see that we were resolving them by subsidizing HOA leadership training. I suppose if the HOAs all came forward with an official agreement saying that in exchange for the Town of Gilbert supporting The Leadership Centre contract they would accept that as fully payment for other burdens we ask them to bear, that would be acceptable. However, that is not what we were contemplating, and I would guess they would never agree to such terms. The bottom line is that it is bad policy to accept abuse from a party because we believe we have abused them. It is good policy to stop the abuse. It is good policy to address each injustice directly. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and a vote to continue down this same path has does nothing to resolve these issues. In fact, all that has been accomplished is to perpetuate the injustices that are taking place.

Captain Rick: Your explanation helps a lot. I have a basic understanding of the injustices claimed by the HOAs that the town imposes, but I am not sure the public does. Could you add a couple of lines to summarize the main injustices and why or why not you agree with them…and/or anything that would help improve the publics understanding of the connection between the injustices and the Leadership Centre training?

Victor Petersen: The biggest injustice I have seen that the Town of Gilbert is perpetrating against the HOAs is the requirement for the HOAs to maintain the landscaping along the arterials (main roads) to a standard set by the Town. This standard is very high and very expensive. As I see it, this is really a hidden tax upon the citizens of Gilbert that live in HOAs. I believe we should either let the HOAs decide what amount of landscaping they are willing to maintain in that space or have the Town pay for the cost of the high standard of maintenance we are requiring. With power comes responsibility. If we want the power to dictate a high standard, we have the responsibility to pay for it. I am not sure everyone will appreciate the point I am making on this issue, but I do believe it is true to principle.

Victor’s words of explanation convinced me that the PROPER VOTE was NO. I did not receive a reply from Eddie Cook.

Victor Petersen and Eddie Cook have received credit for their PROPER VOTE on my Gilbert Council Scorecard: https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

Captain Rick: During the September 20, 2012 Gilbert Town Council meeting I witnessed a council proclamation read in Spanish for a duration of 4 minutes, declaring Gilbert Hispanic Heritage Month. This occurred between between the council meeting quorum call and adjournment, identifying it as an official action. The proclamation was sealed with Gilbert Mayor John Lewis’s signature.  The proclamation session was lead by Councilmember Eddie Cook who stated “folks here can follow along in English and the folks at home could as well”.  There was no means provided for anyone at home to follow along in English. For the entire English-speaking audience via TV and the internet, it appeared to be a 4 minute speech in Spanish, with no understanding of what was being said. I was one of many citizens in Gilbert, Arizona that was astounded. This appeared to be a violation of Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution, the ‘English Only’ law, receiving 74% voter support as Proposition 103 in the November 2006 election. I set out on a journey to find the answer to the question … Was this a violation of Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution?
Council Inquiries, responses and thoughts
I asked Gilbert Mayor John Lewis about this council action.
Gilbert Mayor John Lewis (10/2/12): “Your attention to detail is appreciated. When this was discussed, we were told that Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution (English-only provision) applies to “official business of the Town” and speaking another language in the “Presentation” portion of the agenda was not in violation of Constitution. If you have different information, please let us know”.
My thought … I was honored with the Mayor’s reply, but it left me wondering. Yes, it does apply to ‘official business’ … but the ‘presentation portion’ was clearly in the ‘official business’ portion of the meeting. It made little sense to me. I continued my investigation.
I asked Gilbert Councilmember Eddie Cook about this action.
Gilbert Councilmember Eddie Cook (10/2/12): “I was planning on proclaiming the proclamation in English that night, but staff approached me and said they had a member from staff that would make the proclamation in Spanish. They indicated that the English version would be shown on the screen in the chamber. I’ve now asked staff to research this matter as to possible violation to the State Constitution that all business be conducted in English including the reading of proclamations. Once I receive the report, I will contact you again.”
My thought …  That sounds like a very honest answer. It impressed me as did his promise to contact me with an update:
Gilbert Councilmember Eddie Cook (10/9/12): “I did ask staff to research this issue. The Town Attorney researched the question of whether reading the Mayor’s proclamation of Hispanic Heritage Month in Spanish violated Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution. The Town Attorney indicated that Article 28 was not violated because a Mayor’s proclamation is not an “official action” as that term is defined in Article 28. The Town Attorney indicates that the Mayor’s proclamation is a unilateral proclamation of the Mayor and was not an official action of the Council. I’d be open in hearing your feedback.”
My thought … Councilmember Eddie Cook gained my respect in his replies. Concerning the Town Attorney’s research mentioned: “a mayor’s proclamation is not an ‘official action’ as defined in Article 28” and “the Mayor’s proclamation is a ‘unilateral proclamation’ and was not an official action of the Council” … I found myself in a state of dismay. This made no sense to me, based on research that I had already conducted.  It left me wondering how far off track Gilbert’s legal advise has strayed. I continued my research that was well underway.
Journey to find the truth … with extensive research and experience 
I set out on a journey to research Prop 103 and Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution. It consumed countless hours of time.  I was equipped with my 40-year engineering career experience and accomplishments of having achieved 8 United States Patents for mechanical design and the skills developed working along side of numerous patent attorneys to decipher the ever-so-slight difference between infringing on a patent or not. My research shows that Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution is clearly written and an easily understandable document in comparison to the complexity of patent documents I have critiqued.
Research of Proposition 103 … overwhelmingly approved by Arizona voters (74%) in 2006 as Arizona’s ‘English Only’ law which molded Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution
The early part of my research looked into the foundation of Prop 103. Why was it presented to Arizona voters? The best answer is well presented in the actual wording of Prop 103:
Whereas, the United States is comprised of individuals from diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and continues to benefit from this rich diversity; and
Whereas, throughout the history of the United States, the common thread binding individuals of differing backgrounds has been the English language, which has permitted diverse individuals to discuss, debate and come to agreement on contentious issues; and
Whereas, in recent years, the role of the English language as a common language has been threatened by governmental actions that either ignore or harm the role of English or that promote the use of languages other than English in official governmental actions, and these governmental actions promote division, confusion, error and inappropriate use of resources; and
Whereas, among the powers reserved to the States respectively is the power to establish the English language as the official language of the respective States, and otherwise to promote the English language within the respective States, subject to the prohibitions enumerated in the Constitution of the United States and federal statutes.
Prop 103 became law and amended Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution.
Research of Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution
Article 28 of Arizona Constitution can be summed up as follows:
1. English as the official language; applicability Section 1.
(1) The English language is the official language of the state of Arizona.
(2) As the official language of this state, the English language is the language of the ballot, the public schools and all government functions and actions.
(3)(a) This article applies to:
(i) The legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.
(ii) All political subdivisions, departments, agencies, organizations, and instrumentalities of this state, including local governments and municipalities.
(iii) All statutes, ordinances, rules, orders, programs and policies.
(iv) All government officials and employees during the performance of government business.
(b) As used in this article, the phrase “this state and all political subdivisions of this state” shall include every entity, person, action or item described in this section, as appropriate to the circumstances.
The bold highlights above represent the responsibility of local government and municipalities, like Gilbert, to follow this law in all areas including orders, programs and policies by all government officials and employees during the performance of government business.
Research of Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution … the Definitions
I investigated the definition of “official action” as defined in item 2 of Definitions in Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution. It reads as follows:
1. Definitions
Section 1. In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
1. “Government” includes all laws, public proceedings, rules, publications, orders, actions, programs, policies, departments, boards, agencies, organizations and instrumentalities of this state or political subdivisions of this state, as appropriate under the circumstances to a particular official action.
2. “Official action” includes the performance of any function or action on behalf of this state or a political subdivision of this state or required by state law that appears to present the views, position or imprimatur (definition: sanction, approval, support) of the state or political subdivision or that binds or commits the state or political subdivision, but does not include:
(a) The teaching of or the encouragement of learning languages other than English.
(b) Actions required under the federal individuals with disabilities education act or other federal laws.
(c) Actions, documents or policies necessary for tourism, commerce or international trade.
(d) Actions or documents that protect the public health and safety, including law enforcement and emergency services.
(e) Actions that protect the rights of victims of crimes or criminal defendants.
(f) Using terms of art or phrases from languages other than English.
(g) Using or preserving Native American languages.
(h) Providing assistance to hearing impaired or illiterate persons.
(i) Informal and nonbinding translations or communications among or between representatives of government and other persons if this activity does not affect or impair supervision, management, conduct or execution of official actions and if the representatives of government make clear that these translations or communications are unofficial and are not binding on this state or a political subdivision of this state.
(j) Actions necessary to preserve the right to petition for the redress of grievances.
3. “Preserve, protect and enhance the role of English” includes:
(a) Avoiding any official actions that ignore, harm or diminish the role of English as the language of government.
(b) Protecting the rights of persons in this state who use English.
(c) Encouraging greater opportunities for individuals to learn the English language.
(d) To the greatest extent possible under federal statute, providing services, programs, publications, documents and materials in English.
4. “Representatives of government” includes all individuals or entities during the performance of the individual’s or entity’s official actions.
The above words in bold black represent the definitions that are relative. Item 2 clearly includes Gilbert’s action as an “Official Action”. The exception of sub point (i) does not apply to Gilbert’s action because Gilbert’s action was formal and binding. Even if it had not been formal and binding, representatives of Gilbert would have had to make it clear that the transactions or communications were unofficial and not binding. No Gilbert representative made such a declaration during the meeting.
Research Conclusions
In my expert opinion, the Gilbert action was a violation of Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution.
Closing thoughts … How do we correct this mistake and prevent a similar violation from happening again?
I think an apology from our Mayor would go a long ways … something along the lines of … “we made a mistake, we are sorry, we will take measures to prevent this from happening again.”
I welcome such a reply and would be very pleased to revise this blog post to contain our Mayor’s response below …
Gilbert Mayor John Lewis and Captain Rick converse to find a solution
Gilbert Mayor John Lewis (10/21/12): Rick, The additional information related to the Spanish is helpful and will now require another step to ask for Legal assistance as “interpretation” is reviewed. Obviously, we want to follow the law with exactness. Before reading the Gilbert information, I was most intrigued with the “electoral” vote update that you provided. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to your next update. Mayor Lewis

Captain Rick (10/21/12): John, thank you for your honorable reply. I look forward to you sharing the results of your new legal look into this important matter. I will be pleased to display them below. Thanks also for your kind words about my “electoral vote update”. Captain Rick

Gilbert Mayor John Lewis (10/23/12): Rick, I conferred with our Town Attorney regarding this matter. She points out that on a matter such as this there may be different opinions. However, after reviewing the law and the materials you provided, it is her opinion that there was not a violation of Article 28 by the reading of the proclamation in Spanish. She believes this to be the case because (i) the proclamation is not an official act of the council and (ii) the actual proclamation of the Mayor was written in English. Additionally, the reading of the proclamation was not even by a member of the staff or council. The strongest argument that the reading was an “official act” is that the reading was done at a council meeting and broadcast on Channel 11 and through streaming video. People may differ in their opinions, and the issue may not be black and white in its clarity, but it is the opinion of the Town Attorney that Article 28 was not violated. John Lewis

Captain Rick (10/25/12): John, thanks for your reply. It appears that this important issue remains in disagreement and requires higher powers to decide if this action was a violation of Article 28 of the Arizona Constitution. My readers are free to draw their own conclusions. I trust that Gilbert understands that this action was botched badly and will take measures to prevent a reoccurrence. Captain Rick

Captain Rick Gilbert’s ‘Eagle Eye’ on our Council since 1997

Gilbert, Arizona Council Meeting: September 6, 2012

Item 35: FEES – conduct hearing and consider adoption of a Resolution establishing special event and block party permit fees and terms.

Councilmembers who cast the PROPER VOTE of YES:

Victor Petersen, Eddie Cook

During the meeting I heard these important words from Councilmember Victor Petersen: “What is the percentage of cost recovery for non-profits? I want 100% cost recovery.” Victor requested an amendment to the item to eliminate category 1 and the differentiation between profit and non-profit. Victor and Eddie were the two who cast the PROPER VOTE of ‘Yes’. I invited Councilmember Victor Petersen to expound for this presentation. Victor replied:

Councilmember Victor Petersen: It seems so strange to me that we have seen efforts by the very people who want to encourage economic development by giving advantages to specific commercial interests also want to continue to give special advantages to non-commercial interests. In either case, the approach is unfair; government is picking winners and losers. The correct solution is to allow everyone to compete in a free market with government treating everyone the same. We should allow consumers to decide who to support and businesses to decide how to best meet those demands. Free markets, with protection of property rights, are the best guarantee of economic prosperity.

The Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE Scorecard has been updated: https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

View a video of this council meeting. Watch the discussion leading up to the vote at marker 1:49: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6eI_lwuCPI&list=UUIihJKywVrauxsDmWtwpXYg&index=8&feature=plcp

Gilbert, Arizona Council Meeting: September 6, 2012

Item 20: GRANT– consider authorizing application of Grants from the US Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program for congestion mitigation and air quality improvements related to bicycle and pedestrian facilities, intelligent transportation systems and Particulate Matter-10 paving.

Councilmembers who cast the PROPER VOTE of ‘NO‘:

Victor Petersen, Eddie Cook, Jordan Ray

During the meeting I heard these important words from Councilmember Victor Petersen: “It breaks my heart that we continue to ask the federal government for money when they are so bankrupt, its out of control. If it’s a critical thing we can’t do without, or is highly urgent…otherwise I think we can wait for them and try to fund them ourselves, rather than to ask for more money from the federal government.”

Those words rang a bell in my heart. They accurately summed up the how I feel about the terrible fiscal situation in America with it facing the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ very soon. I invited Councilmember Victor Petersen to expound for this presentation. Victor graciously replied:

Councilmember Victor Petersen: “I can’t, in good conscience, ask the federal government for money when they have none to give. On the receiving end of grants, it’s easy to say that if we don’t spend it here, they will just spend it somewhere else. However, on the giving end of the grants, where we are agree that most of the problem lies, it’s just as easy for them to say that they aren’t actually spending the money; they are just making it available to the local governments. If the locals don’t need it, they won’t spend it. At the end of the day, no one is willing to take responsibility and that is the problem. Well, we are responsible for that which is in our control, and we can stop asking for the money. There are a lot of other considerations on this issue that deserve addressing, but for the sake of brevity, I will leave it at that.”

Captain Rick: Victor’s words ‘hit the nail on the head’ and were well said. During the meeting, I heard a statement by a council member who voted ‘yes’ that I found a bit troubling: ”This is one of the few funded mandates from the federal government.” The federal government is broke. It has no money to mandate Gilbert to spend. We all need to realize the federal spending party is over. America is facing the ‘Fiscal Cliff’. If we do not address it head on now, we will soon witness America becoming a third world country. Gilbert should set a fiscally responsible example for America, not follow the federal government’s path to destruction.

I have updated the Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE Scorecard to show the new totals:  https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

Watch the discussion leading up to the PROPER VOTE at marker 1:33