“If there was no food tax, there would be no pay raises,” DiCiccio said. “It’s as simple as that.” – The Arizona Republic, June 14, 2011
Yesterday, I issued City Manager David Cavazos an ultimatum directing that any and all information regarding the food tax for pay scandal be given to my office (see memo below). I have in my possession documentation that shows that the AMOUNT of the employees’ pay raise was not given to the Council or public until the food tax passed, all public hearings were held and all Council votes had occurred.
We have requested repeatedly over the past several months if the April 21, 2010 memo was the first time that the public was told the actual amount of the pay raises. In a letter to City Attorney Gary Verburg, we asked if this was the first time the public was made aware of the total amount. He wrote that the city could find no other documentation.
I have contended that City Manager Cavazos purposely withheld this information from the public, and the memo dated April 21 will prove that assertion if no other documents are produced from the city manager. Almost all these pay raises go directly to government union workers.
For the past two years, the public was never told of government employee pay raises until they were approved. Here is a recap:
- In 2010, Council passes a food tax with barely 24 hours’ notice — no mention of pay raises.
- 15 public hearings held — major cuts to seniors and children in budget — no mention of the pay raises and amount budgeted for pay raises.
- Council passes the budget on a 7-2 vote. No mention of pay raises in presentation. City manager acknowledges pay raises in budget only during questioning by me. No AMOUNT given to the public.
- Council passes on a 9-0 vote MOUs for labor — no mention by management of amount of pay raises.
- About 2½ months after the food tax passed, all public hearings are held and all votes taken by Council, city management releases the actual amount of the first year of pay raises: $29 million.
Remember, the Council was facing a $270 million shortfall in 2010, the worst in city history. Pools were closed, library hours cut, senior programs and after school programs were dramatically reduced.
Had the city manager given the public the actual dollar amount of the pay raises, the public would have ousted everyone.
In 2011, essentially the same game was played on the public. I started asking for the exact amount of the second round of pay raises in January. It wasn’t until all 15 public hearings were completed and AFTER the Arizona Republic asked for the amount did staff finally release that information. Worse yet, two hours before the Council voted on the budget, the city manager released the two year total cost of the pay raises: $33.8 million.
If the April 10 is the first documented time that you and elected officials were given the true value of the pay raises – and the city manager has presented no evidence otherwise — then your government, your city, purposely kept information that would have been critical to your decision on the food tax and the budget.
Some have called it “phony math” to lump two years of pay raises together. But a second year of a pay raises on top of a first year all cost the taxpayers more money, and are hardly “sacrifice.” What’s phony is threatening critical core services, passing a huge new tax and NEVER telling the public about pay raises.
Letter to City Manager David Cavazos:
This letter will serve as my final request for you to provide any and all documentation showing the first time the public was given the full amount of the pay raises other than the April 21, 2010 memo to me. Please provide that documentation prior to 12 noon on Wednesday August 10, 2011. If no documentation is provided, then I and the public will conclude that the public was given the information about the $29 million in pay raises only after the food tax was passed, all public hearings held and the Council voted on all budget matters.
Thank you for your cooperation in this public request.
Phoenix City Council, District 6