Prison Anyone? Just Follow the Money by Gary Gibbs

by Gary Gibbs

A raucous public hearing on plans to more than double the inmate population at Goodyear’s Perryville prison was held  August 10 and no one from “official” Goodyear bothered to attend – not a single council member, not the mayor, nor any member of city management. In contrast, Litchfield Park cared enough to show up. Its city manager read a stinging letter from his mayor voicing strong opposition to prison expansion plans.

Upon leaving the hearing, I fired off an email to City Manager John Fischbach, asking if Goodyear has a position on prison plans. “The city does not have a position on the proposed prison,” he replied. “Historically, the city has opposed it, along with Litchfield Park, and you can see what that has gotten us . . . We will be proposing a resolution to the council to take a position on this issue at the August 22 meeting.”

Lack of attendance by Goodyear’s ruling elite may not have been an oversight. Expect them to adopt a resolution opposing prison expansion at their next meeting. There is sure to be plenty of blather about security concerns and listening to residents, who are uniformly in opposition judging from the many who spoke out at the hearing. But I suspect formal opposition is so much window dressing. The city stands to reap millions from construction sales taxes as the prison is built out, and millions more in ongoing revenue generated by adding as many as 1,000 jobs within city limits. Here’s the plan — posture publically, but don’t exert any real pressure privately. It’s the perfect political storm – if the state’s Department of Corrections decides to build elsewhere, the council can claim victory. If Perryville expands, the council can blame the state and rush to the bank to cash the checks.

So where were our elected representatives anyway? The council has been in recess since July 19 and a number of folks have left town. The mayor is in Colorado, council member Wally Campbell is in Texas, and political appointee Gary Gelzer, a former Navy man, is on a cruise. Bill Stipp said he was at another meeting. Even if he did not have a conflict, he would not have attended.

“It’s important to understand that the law prohibits council members from expressing opinions on the matter until after public hearings have taken place,” he emailed a Pebble Creek constituent** who wanted to know why he wasn’t at the hearing. Sounds like a crock to me. I’d like to see the law that says if you are an elected official your rights of free speech are suspended. And it didn’t stop Litchfield Park’s mayor from expressing an opinion on behalf of his citizens.

Many in Goodyear fancy the city becoming the Scottsdale of the West Valley, replete with high end dining, shopping and residential. Goodness knows the city levies taxes as if it already was Scottsdale, but we’re a long way from emulating that city’s upscale ambience.

Such high-fallutin’ aspirations will take a huge step backwards if the Department of Corrections has its way. The state says it needs 5,000 more prison beds. It may decide to put all the beds at one location, or spread them out. In addition to Perryville, existing penal facilities in Yuma, Winslow, Eloy and Phoenix are also being considered. My vote is for Yuma, a former territorial prison. The only thing it has going for it is that it is half way to San Diego.

**Editor’s Note.  Produced below is the aforementioned email from Bill Stipp to Jewel White, who I am told is Bill Stipp’s sister.  How disingenuous is that?  I’ve told you that Stipp cannot be trusted as his previous history shows and as I have documented elsewhere in howardsgoodyearblog under “About Bill Stipp”  Here is Bill’s response to Ms. White.

— In, “The White House” <laruewhite2@…> wrote:
> To All Pebblecreek
> I sent an email to Bill Stipp,City Councilman, and this is the response I
> received regarding the prison discussion.
> Jewel White
> From: “Bill Stipp” <bill.stipp@…>
> To: “The White House” <laruewhite2@…>
> Cc: “John F. Fischbach” <John.Fischbach@…>; “Georgia Lord”
> <Georgia.Lord@…>
> Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 8:24 PM
> Subject: Perryville Prison
> Mrs. White,
> Thank you for contacting me about the Perryville Prison expansion proposal.
> I understand that it is frustrating to you that no one from the City of
> Goodyear was present. I know that the council being on break can appear as
> though we are not engaged in the situation or that there is some level of
> apathy on our behalf. I can assure you that is not the case. I had a
> previous commitment to speak on behalf of the city at the Community
> Development Advisory Committee at the County regarding a request for a
> federal HUD grant, which was approved during that meeting.
> Although several council members are out of the area while council is
> officially on break, city staff has been working diligently on details,
> proposals and concerns regarding the Perryville Prison matter. They have
> reached out to our legislators, the Governor’s office, the Department of
> Corrections, the GEO group, and others. The city attorney has had
> discussions with the state attorney general about concerns, details and
> objections regarding the selection of the site for the proposed expansion.
> The city manager has also had discussions about the location with the
> Department of Corrections and is aware of the situation, as well. Staff is
> looking into all aspects and objections raised by the city’s residents about
> the proposed expansion. They are actively working every angle to better
> understand the proposal to expand Perryville.
> It’s important to understand that the law prohibits council members from
> expressing opinions on the matter until after the public hearings have taken
> place. The public hearings were the beginning of the process, which will
> allow council to reach a consensus. The Perryville Prison expansion
> proposal will be on the agenda of the Council’s August 22 meeting as a
> business item for discussion and possible action. At that time, city staff’s
> recommendations will be presented to council.
> I truly appreciate the fact that you’ve made a point to contact me about
> your concerns, objections and expectations regarding the prison. Rest
> assured, I share your concerns. Goodyear is a wonderful city with great
> promise for the future. I will convey your concerns to all of the people
> involved in the decision-making process. Although I was not able to attend
> the Wednesday night meeting, I understand the frustrations and worries that
> were voiced there.
> The city is working hard and putting every effort into representing the
> citizens’ best interests and serious concerns. The process is not fast, and
> it can be a difficult road. I assure you, your voices are being heard and
> your objections are being taken to heart.
> I encourage you to contact the Department of Corrections and our state
> legislators and share your worries, your objections, and your concerns.
> Although it may take time, I will do my very best to keep you posted and let
> you know more details as they develop.
> Bill Stipp, Councilmember
> Office of the Mayor and Council
> 190 N Litchfield Rd
> Goodyear, AZ 85338
> 623-606-7389
> bill.stipp@…
> All messages created in this system belong to the City of Goodyear and
> should be considered a public record subject to disclosure under Arizona
> Public Records Law (A.R.S. 39-121). City employees, City public officials,
> and those who generate E-mail to them, should have no expectation of privacy
> related to the use of this technology. If you are not the intended recipient
> you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action
> in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.


6 Responses

  1. Is this the same Jewel White who I believe wrote a least one nasty letter to the editor in the West Valley View very critical of Bill’s opponents and you as well Howard? How funny is it is true that she is Stipp’s sister.

    That bunch is a joke. Georgia Lord is the Mayor of PebbleCreek and the rest of the crew are some of the bigggest losers I have unfortunately had the opportunity to meet. I wish Georgia would do us a favor and stay in Colorado and perhaps we can give Wally to Texas permanently?

  2. The Corrupt Corporate Incarceration Complex

  3. You have to get your Phoenix friends to vote for Stanton. Gullett is tied to CCA/private prison corporations.

    AZ Fact Check – Wes Gullett – false

  4. Wake up people! Arizona is becoming a prison state. Forget about your luxury homes and sinking property values, if you don’t take action and write the Governor and ADC Director Ryan to STOP the private prisons and stop prison growth in Arizona. This is NOT the kind of job creation that is needed.

    AZ Governor Funneling Money to Private Prison Corporation Through SB 1070 | News

  5. p.s. Also stop importing out of state inmates they need to dump, to Arizona! Look at California’s prison crisis!

  6. CCA/Florence: High-profile death “Pitchman’s death in Florence cell stuns foes, friends”

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