02/21/2012 & 02/23/2012 Study Session & Town Council Meeting

There were several items of interest at these two meetings, not the least of which was the passionate discussion between Council Member Victor Petersen and Vice Mayor Jenn Daniels regarding the application of Constitutional principles. (See the topic relating to non-profit funding):

Approval of an Intergovernmental Agreement Among Maricopa County, City of Mesa, and the Town of Gilbert for Power Road Improvements.

One would think, in light of the huge amount of money that has already been spent, plus the contracts and engineering that have been negotiated and developed, that the Council would have approved this agreement.

Not so fast. The problem is that, long ago, this “split alignment” seemed to appeal to public land use, not economic development or safety. Yet, the project moved forward at the recommendation of the staff and Council at that time.

So, is it worth the money to unravel everything and take another look, and spend more money? Jordan Ray, Eddie Cook, Jordan Ray and Vice Mayor Daniels seem to think so.

This item was continued to the March 8 Council meeting.

The Budget Report for December 2011.
Budget Administrator Dawn Irvine noted that Gilbert, once again, is ahead of the curve compared to virtually every other Arizona community. Our expenditures are slightly lower than budgeted. Our revenues are slightly higher. Our single family permits are heads and shoulders above every other jurisdiction. We are conservative. We have enough citizens who pay attention. We have a Council that demands transparency. We have a Town Manager that holds himself and his staff accountable. Folks, we are on the right track.

Fire/Emergency Response Times.
Chief Collin DeWitt presented a report on the Fire Department’s current response times, and response plan.
In keeping with the Franklin Covey 4 Disciplines of Execution, Chief DeWitt outlined his plan to achieve two goals: 1) Increase In-Service Time. 2) Reduce out of service time.

Ever wonder how long it takes for you to see the Fire Department roll up at your front door after you dial 9-1-1? It’s about 3 minutes, 49 seconds 65% of the time. This is called “First Due.” If things are really out of control and more help is needed (“Second Due”), you can expect to see more help in about 4 minutes, 50 seconds 80% of the time.

The goal that Chief DeWitt and his staff are working to achieve is to arrive in less than 4 minutes 90% of the time (“First Due”), and for Second Due to arrive in less than 6 minutes, 90% of the time.

Chief DeWitt went into some detail about how he and his staff plan to achieve these goals, which you can hear by viewing Ch. 11 (see below for the link). As you can see, the Gilbert Fire Department is darned close.

The Council declined the proposal from the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce relating to a tourism contract in the amount of $161,600. Rather, the Council directed Staff to create an in house tourism program that would cost about half as much. It would not be as ambitious as the Chamber proposal. Staff was directed to bring their program back to Council at a later time.

Council Approved the Compensation Policy and Strategy.
If you would like to obtain a copy of the final, approved policy, contact Cathy Templeton, the Town Clerk at Cathy.Templeton@gilbertaz.gov and ask for the Council Communication #21, Town Council Meeting of 2/23/2012.

Council approved Ben Cooper’s 6-year non-profit funding schedule which provides for no changes to nonprofit funding for this year and incrementally eliminates funding over a period of a subsequent 5 years.

This motion carried 4-3, with Council members Petersen, Cook, and Ray voting against the motion. The reason that Petersen, Cook, and Ray voted against it was because they were in favor of a 5-year schedule that would leave the non-profit funding as is for this year, and then reduce it by 25% each year for 4 years. This proposal was offered by Councilmember Ray, who had first spoken with a citizen who works with a non-profit.

There was a lot of discussion by Council members about this item. Some who observed it might have been a little uncomfortable. However, one thing is clear. With the addition of Victor Petersen to the Council, we are hearing about our Constitution at the Town Council level as we have never heard it before. We are learning how its principles are applied to decision making. No one on the current Gilbert Town Council understands the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution better than Victor Petersen. There is no one who knows how to apply those principles to Council decisions better than Victor.

I am glad for the discussion, and heartened by it. The issue of the Council taking from private taxpayers and giving it to other private entities for free services has gone on for a very long time. Vice Mayor Daniels grappled with it, and she and Victor vigorously discussed it at this meeting. Victor referenced the Constitution many times.

In booklet form, the Constitution is handed out by Council members to boy scouts at many Council meetings. They encourage them to read it. For what purpose if not to understand its principles and how they apply to decisions made by government? I wish the thousands of boy scouts who have been given a copy of the Constitution by Council members had been there to hear this discussion. I hope there are other opportunities.

All Council Members took an Oath to support and defend the Constitution. Some of them seem to have developed amnesia about what they promised to God they would do:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely; without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

“In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Thomas Jefferson.

February 21, 2012 Study Session Minutes:

February 23, 2012 Town Council Minutes:

Channel 11 Videotape