“I’m old and tired. I’m so tired of the hassle.”
So it was that Cactus District Councilmember Phil Lieberman quietly said he is not seeking another four-year term on Glendale City Council.
He was speaking between a day-long budget workshop and an anticipated lengthy council meeting.
“We’re right in the midst of a good budget battle,” Lieberman said. “I will be 84 five weeks before my last term in office. I want to visit my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchldren.”
As for endorsements, Lieberman did not name names, but he did describe the kind of personality he would like to see take his place: “I am looking for a mean, ornery, outspoken councilman to replace me, somebody who will get up and protect my constituents like I do.”
Budget talks have taken their toll on the council’s elder statesman. He voiced concern about public safety, personnel layoffs, parks, and swimming programs.
He said, “We are sacrificing police, we’re laying off four more; we have already laid off 250 employees; we have not watered our parks in months; we can’t afford $2.4 million to build a swimming pool at O’Neill Park; closed swimming programs at Glendale Community College and Apollo High School; we are raising the sales tax 7/10ths of 1 percent; in the next two years, we will raise the property tax 61 cents per $100 (of assessed valuation), making us one of the highest property taxes in the state.”
As for the Coyotes, Lieberman said, “The deal was his (Jamison); $14.5 million average for the next 21 years if he can get enough investors to buy the team. He has himself said on television he hasn’t done that this past year. Multiply $14.5 million by 21 years, you see that he is asking for $305 million.
“With the raising of sales by 7/10 of 1 percent, it’s all in the name of raising the money for the potential owners of the Coyotes. If we don’t give him the $17 million this year and $20 million next year and $20 million the year after and $20 million in 2015 to complete the five years, he goes away.
“He, in my mind, is using what he gets from Glendale as a guarantee to his investors that he will be able to make the deal work.
“Remember, we are on the third owner of the Coyotes in seven years.
“Here’s the problem: A car dealer in Glendale will have a $270 increase in the cost of a $30,000 car because of the sales tax increase.
“We are starting $35 million behind this year, and with the increase in sales tax, we will only be able to increase the General Fund by $5 million to $11 million.
“I asked where the extra $5 million was coming from we need to pay the NHL this year. That’s coming straight out of the General Fund. That also would buy a swimming pool and a whole lot more.”
Illustrating his determination to buck the system, Lieberman is hanging on to his council discretionary funds instead of giving some back.
“This past year, I donated $5,000 to finish the park, gave funds to Parks and Rec, $3,000 to the food bank, and $1,500 to Soroptimists of the Kachinas (for its campaign to end child prostitution).”
As he said earlier in the interview, he hopes the person elected to replace him will do the same.