Matt Metz, Citizen over 4 years ago

Scottsdale is unique only because of its rural and suburban lifestyle, look, and feel. "Keeping up with the Joneses" (in this case, keeping up with Phoenix) by continuing to approve and build taller buildings with increased living and traffic density will destroy our special character.

Like many others, I chose to live in Scottsdale BECAUSE of its rural and suburban feel. Even if the dubious argument (that increased height and development is necessary for our economic growth) is true, most of us would rather pay slightly higher property taxes to preserve our views and quality of life.

If people want to live and work in high-rise buildings that block our views and make our roads claustrophobic and crowded, they should move to Phoenix. If instead, people want a better qualify of life, we should make Scottsdale that viable choice.

Our General Plan (and our City Council members) should fight AGAINST increasing height and density in the city, instead of welcoming every developer by allowing them variances for taller buildings.

6 Support this ideas Created

To create useful smartphone apps for citizens and tourists that allow people to navigate the city more easily.

Any ideas are more than welcome, and we encouage further discussion!

2 Support this ideas Acknowledged

I am a daily user of facebook. The City's facebook access is impossible and very discouraging for citizens to post ideas. It takes too long to get to a comment page and the access itself is far too complicated. I would hope that this is not intentional.

2 Support this ideas Created

Jeffrey Blank almost 5 years ago

I'm not sure if Scottsdale has seen this, but I thought I'd pass it on:

http://codeforamerica.org/cities/

We recruit fellows who demonstrate a networked, web-centric, and open approach to problem-solving. Attaching the fellows to the city for the year and helping them build relationships with a wide variety of city workers is an effective way to introduce this kind of thinking and help it spread.

  • Solve complex issues in your city with custom-built tech.
  • Encourage experimentation with a new tool set.
  • Collaborate with other innovative cities.
2 Support this ideas Created

Kevin Grimshaw about 5 years ago

Years ago I was excited at the prospect. We need to lobby them and get a Western Annex here in our great town. Again, we need to move beyond retail, food, and resorts. Those are all great things, but Phoenix is beating at our door, and so is the Pima community, all adding viable alternatives. If we sleep, we lose. Mesa's art center is amazing, and one day their downtown will take hold. We have the tourist draw. Let's build upon it!

5 Support this ideas Acknowledged
Small2_surf_horse

A New West Western Town called: THE WESTERN WAVE. Featuring THE FLOWRIDER. A CONTINUOUS WAVE TO BODY BOARD AND SURF ON.

SAFE FUN AND AS EXCITING TO WATCH AS IT IS TO RIDE. A Place where Everyone will Experience What WE have been missing for too long. .............. JOIN ! Be On Board! There is so much more.

 Support The Arizona Wave to bring the Waves to Arizona!!!

Your Cities know about us and with thier cooperation WE can bring a New Wave of Life!

3 Support this ideas Acknowledged

Scottsdale parachutes not just golden

Call it the case of the $450,000 e-mail.

A high-level Scottsdale city executive suggests a one-line change to a lucrative early-retirement package about to be offered to eligible city employees and as a result he walks away with an extra $17,750 a year for the rest of his life. This, in addition to the more than $292,000 in cash and benefits he gets as a result of taking the deal.

A rather profitable piece of work for Neal Shearer, who at the time was an assistant city manager in Scottsdale and one of several top city executives who had a hand in creating the program before taking advantage of it.

Shearer says that he didn't design the program and that he didn't e-mail the suggested change out of any self interest. He says he was simply alerting the city's human relations department to an “inadvertent oversight” in its design of the plan, one that would have denied longtime employees the chance to boost their pensions in addition to getting lump-sum settlements to leave.

“As I have handled every issue in my entire tenure with the city of Scottsdale, my intent was simply to inform, to help them understand the ramifications of an issue that I believe they had a blind spot on and it would have impacted a number of people relative to their decision to retire or not,” Shearer told me.

Shearer’s suggestion cost Scottsdale taxpayers roughly $2.5 million – about $250,000 of which went to buy an annuity to cover the cost of his added pension.

The latest revelation about Scottsdale's Early Retirement Golden Parachute Drop has drawn a gasp from the city's mayor.

“My reaction is outrage…,” said Mayor Jim Lane, who leads the City Council that unanimously OK'd the early-retirement program in January 2009. “It seems even all the more apparent that the management in place making this decision was snookering us.”

 I'll say.

I began writing about this deal a year ago in the Scottsdale Republic. How the city decided to create a buyout plan to get higher paid longtime employees out the door. How several top executives who had input into the program were also top beneficiaries of the program, each walking away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.

How the city generously decided to “round up” years of service for anyone who took the deal, offering an extra week of pay for a year they never worked. How a program that was projected to cost up to $5 million wound up sucking $12 million out the door, once vacation and medical be

nefits were added in.

Supporters of the plan point out that it'll save $9 million a year in the future and they're right – assuming the city doesn't hire more employees once the economy eases up. (Bets?)

But these golden parachutes weren't just golden for half of the 100 employees who took the deal. They were gold-plated, platinum-lined parachutes, and the diamond-encrusted rip chords were added a day after the council approved the deal.

That morning, Shearer sent an e-mail to city executives and the HR employees, expressing concern about when the checks would be cut.

“In reading the ‘fine print' I see that the lump sum payment will be made to the employee approx. one month after retirement pension benefits begin,” he wrote. “This makes no difference to post-1984 retirees, who cannot roll such payouts into their pension calculation. However, this approach would greatly disadvantage pre-1984 retirees.”

Under the rules, government workers who joined the Arizona State Retirement System before 1984 can add their accrued vacation pay, the income portion of their medical-leave payout and their retirement-incentive bonus to the salary that is used to calculate their pension as long as they get it at the time of retirement. But if those payments are made later, they're out of luck, says ASRS spokesman David Cannella.

As a result of Shearer's e-mail, the city changed the plan – deciding to cut checks on the day of retirement rather than a month later.

The result: a parachuter's paradise and Shearer, hired in 1977, was the biggest beneficiary. His $292,000 in cash and benefits were enough to increase his pension by $32,000 a year, according to city Treasurer David Smith, giving him an annual pension of roughly $170,000.

In 25 years, when Shearer is 80, Smith calculates he will have collected an extra $800,000 -- $450,000 of that as a result of switching the payout to the day of retirement. In all, taxpayers are having to fork over an extra $322,000 to buy an annuity to cover Shearer's pension.

The No. 2 recipient: Assistant City Manager Roger Klingler, who scored $284,000 in cash and benefits and saw his pension boosted by $29,000 a year, to $151,000, according to Smith. If Klingler hasn't sent a thank-you note to Shearer, he should, as should the nearly 50 others who benefited from the Shearer switch.

Shearer, who now works as community operations officer for the Anthem Community Council, says the city staffers who designed the program always intended that old timers get the pension boost. They just didn't understand the ramifications of delaying the payout.

“I certainly was aware of that and felt a responsibility to point that out to human resources, that there would be an impact to a sizable number of retirees who started before 1984,” he said.

Sadly, no one felt a responsibility to point out that there would be an impact to taxpayers as well.

ARTICLE BY LAURIE ROBERTS OF THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 08:32 PM

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COMMENTS TO THIS ARTICLE:

posted by finzona1944 on Jun 8, 2010 at 09:38 PM

Seems as though some of the Scottsdale management were taking lessons from the outrages Wall Street execs.  Typical of hiring the fox to run the chicken coop.

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posted by nicki52 on Jun 9, 2010 at 12:36 AM

And our city council let it all just slide by - and never asked a question. Seems they should have been paying closer attention - Their OUTRAGE - and the Mayors  apparently came too late to help the taxpayers they say they care about...............The buck stops with them.

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posted by joesax0 on Jun 9, 2010 at 06:54 AM

Nice job of investigation, Laurie.  It's nice to see that you keep exposing these cases of larceny and corruption.  I have followed some of your other cases.

Keep it up - for the hopeful improvement of our communities.

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posted by Cos2009 on Jun 9, 2010 at 08:09 AM

Thanks Neal, as one of the COS employees that got laid off and is still struggling 11 months later to find employment...how much money would the City have saved if rather than the COS letting go front line employees such as myself & others they would have saved a tremendous amount of money by letting you --Klinger, Clifford and Little go? Hmmm, falling on the sword vs. your "pointing out" to City executives and HR (isn't that their job to know the ins and outs of AZSRS and benefit plans?". Shearer, who now works as community operations officer for the Anthem Community Council, says the city staffers who designed the program always intended that old timers get the pension boost. They just didn't understand the ramifications of delaying the payout.---GEE how generous Neal to know that you "care so much about your fellow employees!? Or was it just the "good ol' boys" like yourself? 

 Your extra  annual increase of  $32,000 is equal to at least one f/t employee or at the least 2-3 p/t employees that could have still be gainfully employed vs. trying to survive on unemployment of $265.00/week.  That would have been showing that you truly care...by stepping up and moving on taking a basic retirement package with a cap and thus allowing others who were hard workers to continue to have jobs!

I remember your behind the scenes work with Jan Dolan---you were know unofficially known as the "hacket man" and one to clean up her messes.

Do I sound bitter and angry? Well I am since I was was a dedicated COS employee that started a few years after 1984, I was two years from a basic early retirement and it took 2-3 employees to "fill in" and do my job after I was laid off. I'm not the only one that was a "certain age" and other demographics that was "let go".  I'm still curious how that is saving the COS money...many of the positions that were laid off were just moved around and/or COS added the extra work loads to current employees to do in addition to their regular bulging workloads.  The positions were NOT eliminated as was told to the Mayor and Council. 

  BTW, the COS new unofficial policy is firing employees that are out on medical leave before they can move to long term disability since the COS is self-insured and that would be more costly. How's that for warm/fuzzy and taking care of your employees...firing dedicated employees when they are down vs. doing the right thing? 

As for the HR Director's previous comments about wanting the COS to maintain it's role as being a desired place to work---I think TOXIC snake pit is more likely the new slogan. 

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posted by HAZER on Jun 9, 2010 at 08:33 AM

A slap in the face to people who work for a living.  People like this make everyone distrust Govt.  I hope something is done to prevent this abuse.

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posted by AZREBEL1973 on Jun 9, 2010 at 12:21 PM

This problem is so prevalent accross the US, that it can only be the result of all these public officials attending seminars over the years and taking classes on " How to screw the community you serve for your everlasting benefit"  From the smallest cities to the largest states, they are all doing the same thing   AND GETTING AWAY WITH IT !! 

Man, I can't believe I spent my whole career in the private sector.  What the hell was I thinking??

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posted by jessesnowboard on Jun 9, 2010 at 02:19 PM

How Ms.Roberts is able to find the stories amazes me! I am grateful for her stories, even thought I feel that any optimism I have for our governments dyeing a little with each story. If only she could catch things before they happen and put a stop to them before things get screwed up. I know, I know and if a frog had wings it wouldn't bump it's rear when it jumps. Thank goodness for the light that Ms. Roberts shines on the dark underbelly of our government/society!

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posted by hamondlane on Jun 9, 2010 at 04:44 PM

“My reaction is outrage…,” said Mayor Jim Lane, who leads the City Council that unanimously OK'd the early-retirement program in January 2009. “It seems even all the more apparent that the management in place making this decision was snookering us.”

Mr. Mayor instead of being snookered you may wish to consider reviewing what you were given in light of fraud and misrepresentation statutes within ARS Title 13. 

I hope you and the other elected members of the City Council begin to look at these types of criminal enhancements with a more serious eye to your futures!

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posted by subman on Jun 10, 2010 at 02:06 PM

Maybe Laurie and cos2009 should get together for a chat. If even half of what that individual posted is correct (and I have no reason to think it isn't) it sounds like there are some major violations of the law taking place.

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posted by Cos2009 on May 31, 2009 at 10:34 AM

From Laurie's Palomino is saved posted---"However, I heard that several people at Palomino Library have already lost their jobs, as well as other library staff at the other buildings. Now that the library will be getting its money back, does that mean those people will be getting their jobs back? It would seem like those people will be needed now more than ever, if they are going to need to open Appaloosa Library too. "

 

Nope, they are not getting  their  jobs back--9 library employees last day on site was May 26th...4 of those positions were from Palomino.  Also you failed to mention that Debra Baird Community Services Manager who oversees both the Parks and Libraries also is getting one of the "golden parachutes." How convenient!  None of the "laid off" 25 or 27 employees (depends on whose numbers you believe) are getting paid for their sick leave accruals or eligible for the retirement "buyout" since their positions have been eliminated--nor are they eligible to file a personnel grievance or have a personnel hearing.... (One I know had over 300 hours of sick leave) and also they were asked if they wanted to "resign" when signing their final paperwork---gee if they did that they would not be eligible for "unemployment" ....hhmmm why would COS management even suggest that as an option? 

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posted by altair on May 29, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Are people in Scottsdale really that stupid that they don't check under the hood?  You just got punked Scottsdale and you all look like fools.

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posted by tedking on May 28, 2009 at 01:21 PM

This is absolutely criminal.  I hope some of us Scottsdale citizens can get together and sue the city, and take this situation to the state Supreme Court. The city will be paying for this crime for years to come.

This is the "pension bubble" that is breaking the entire USA. There is no city able to get a bond issue. Who wants to lend a city money for hand-out to non-producing former employees.

The party years (1985 to 2009) are over. Reality is here. We must stop the paymentsto this illegal, unconstitutional debt that the city incurred.

NO MORE PAYMENTS!!!!!!

Ted King

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posted by MightyMoe09 on May 28, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Little seems to be very slick at putting his spin on the mess he and his staff created. This is a total disgrace - an embarrassment for the Mayor and the Council - and the city.  The budget is a mess, and the poor decisions will continue to be made unless someone starts looking into who is making these recommendations to the Mayor and City Council.  John Little and his staff are looking more tarnished every week as these financial fiascoes are being discovered.   It seems Laurie Roberts is the only one looking out for our tax dollars.  Without her research and articles, I don't think any one would know the full depth of this "golden parachute".  

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posted by antiquediva on May 28, 2009 at 12:39 PM

And teachers are loosing their jobs; no 'parachute' for them.

Most importantly, the children, their education and future is paying the price for these errors.

Those responsible should be fined or fired.

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...FINAL THOUGHTS...

IT IS TIME THAT WE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, BUT WHERE DO WE START?  IF SOMEONE KNOWS HOW TO PROCEED, THEN I WOULD BE WILLING TO ASSIST IN THE ENDEAVOR.  

IF THERE IS A LAWYER OR ANY CITIZENS OUT THERE WHO WOULD LIKE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS THEN PLEASE CONTACT ME AT DJEMCKEE@GMAIL.COM.

I WOULD REALLY LIKE FOR "COS2009" TO CONTACT ME AT DJEMCKEE@GMAIL.COM.  AS FORMER EMPLOYEES OF THE COS, I THINK WE HAVE A LOT TO TALK ABOUT.

IF YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY AND WOULD LIKE TO ASSIST OR IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JUST LET ME KNOW HOW YOU FEEL PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE AND WRITE ME AT DJEMCKEE@GMAIL.COM.  I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

TO THE STAFF AT THE CITY OF SCOTTSDALE, THE CURRENT CITY MANAGER AND THE CITY COUNCIL, I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU  ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO TO ABSOLVE OR REVERSE THIS POOR DECISION THAT WAS MADE.  PLEASE CONTACT ME AT DJEMCKEE@GMAIL.COM.

COME ON EVERYONE...WE CANNOT STAND FOR THIS ABUSE OF THE SYSTEM.  IT IS ALREADY THREE YEARS OLD AND NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE.  WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ALREADY.

 

 

 

0 Comments 6 Support this ideas Acknowledged

John Blank about 5 years ago

The City needs a ethics hotline where employees and taxpayers can report ethical concerns in city government.

12 Support this ideas Completed

Pickleball is the fastest growing participation sport in Arizona.  Virtually every sizeable city in the Valley, except Scottsdale, has public courts.  Fountain Hills has 6 courts (3 of which are lighted) and over 150 members of their public “club”.

While the game is played by all ages, it’s particularly attractive to the over 50 set --- perfectly matching Scottsdale’s demographics.  And would be an attractive addition to what’s offered to visitors.

One tennis court can be easily converted into four Pickleball courts, allowing 16 doubles players to play at any one time.  A modest court fee would pay for the conversion in short order.

The USA Pickleball Association will provide schematics and instructions for the conversion, and several sporting goods stores sell balls and racquets.



5 Support this ideas Completed