Gotcha! Questions

In a question and answer round table meeting with residents, Goodyear mayor GEOrgia Lord said the unemployment rate was 5% (imagine anyone being so poorly informed about the current state of the economy that they would even guess at a current unemployment rate of 5%, unless, of course, you live in North Dakota), she did not have a firm grasp on how much was spent on a recent building project, she did not realize that the city is spending excess utility funds in the General Fund after increasing utility rates, she could not explain where $35 mil from the General Fund beginning balance has been spent since 2008, and in fact, she did not even appear to realize that it was gone, and she did not understand why a bank would lend money for a 30% overpriced building when the new owner has put up 60% of the funds to purchase and improve it.

Some have considered the questions which drew these responses from the mayor to be “gotcha” questions.

The day following the meeting, the Pebble Creek talk message board was on fire with accusations about how awful it was that I went to a Pebble Creek Republican Club meeting and actually asked GEOrgia Lord a few questions in an open meeting forum.

One old fellow who is probably near 80 or so, and is hearing impaired, sat at the same table that I did but I never heard him say more than a few words.  Those words were near the start of the first round of question time when he started to go after a woman who was asking GEOrgia about the need for her $80,000 assistant.  After we reminded him that the forum was for us to ask GEOrgia questions, not for him to ask others questions, he said little more as I recall.  But the next day he had plenty to say on the PC message board writing;

” It was obvious your and (others’) attendance at last night’s meeting was a planned “Gotcha” assault on Georgia”.

Then based upon what the hearing impaired octogenarian wrote, another Creeker wrote;

“Thank you (name removed) for setting the record straight. I was not at the meeting but am sure (knowing what I know about them) that Howard and (others) did take the opportunity to “Get Georgia”.

Did you get that?  She wasn’t there but she is sure “from what she know(s)”.  Just for the record, neither I nor the “others” she spoke of even know who this person is.  None of us have ever even met her.

And then another well known PC troublemaker* chimed in;  (By the way, this is verbatim, those are not my spelling and grammar mistakes).

“I was not at the meeting so I only know what I have been told.  What I have been told is that you Howard were very demeaning to the Mayor, antagonistic, and bulling.  You went to her table looking for a fight and that your presentations were to that end.  Again I was not there and have no idea but I have a lot of respect of the people who told me this so I have to assume that there is some
truth to that.”

Since I made no “presentations”, I only asked questions, I would guess that the rest of his information is pretty unreliable also.

Here Are All the ‘Gotcha’ Questions

As is my normal practice, I present below the details of all those “gotcha” questions I asked the mayor.  Only 4 questions over a 45 minute period were asked by people GEOrgia initially identified for the group as her “enemies”.  This is because GEORgia was relatively long winded in her “initial” presentations, which took place every 15 minutes, others at the table had questions, and GEOrgia frequently interrupted her “enemies” when they asked questions before they could finish their questions.  These questions are all straight off the list of questions that I included in my last article when I described GEOrgia and her husband yelling insults at me in the PC parking lot after the meeting.  I took a copy of that list with me to the meeting and read the questions off the paper prior to asking them.

You decide if these are “gotcha” questions for a mayor of a 65,000 population town.

Why Do You, a Part Time Mayor, Need an $80,000 per Year Assistant?
The first “gotcha” question was not from me.  A woman tried to ask the same question as question one, Staffing Levels on my question list about why GEOrgia needs an $80,000 assistant since she is a part time mayor making $23,000.

The woman started her question by stating that since GEOrgia is a part time mayor earning $23,000… and that is when GEOrgia pounced and cut her off for the first of many times.  GEOrgia then went into a long dialogue that started with, “you think I’m part time?  Well, you should just see my calendar if you think I’m just part time.  I’m not part time.”  To which Creeker calmly replied, “Georgia, I’m just saying that since that is how I think your office is described by the city”.

It may have been difficult for anyone to understand the Creeker’s question from there  because GEOrgia kept belligerently interrupting her and any other questioners who GEOrgia had labeled, “enemies” at the start of the proceedings before any questions were even asked.  And not once did I witness GEOrgia allowing any of the previously identified “enemies” (including me) to finish a complete question before GEOrgia interrupted them.  In fact, at one point I asked GEOrgia to please just let one Creeker finish her  question before  interrupting her any more.

And how did GEOrgia finally answer the $80,000 assistant question?  She didn’t.  She deflected it by saying that she didn’t think her assistant made $80,000 and then went on to glare at me and tell everyone at the table how when her assistant read my article stating his salary in my blog he told her he wished he made that much.  I’ve attached a link to the article and you will see that I included a copy of her assistant’s offer of employment letter in the article. $80k Assistant

GEOrgia’s paranoia about people who do not agree with her was evident in the preconceptions she demonstrated with her reply to the $80,000 assistant question.  She was not even listening to what the intent and purpose of the questions that normal, hardworking taxpayers who happen to disagree with her were there to ask.  I think any sitting mayor who doesn’t like meeting the public on their terms should consider stepping down as mayor.

And here are the rest of the questions that I and others asked GEOrgia as well as a couple of factual corrections I made for GEOrgia when she misspoke the few times she actually attempted to answer the questions instead of dodge and spin them;

1. When asked about GY unemployment by a California couple at the table, GEOrgia said GY unemployment was 5 percent. I interjected that it was more like 9.5 percent. Then she appeared to check typed notes that she had in a three ring binder on the table in front of her (probably prepared by the $80,000 assistant) and admitted it was at least 8.5. Here is my article about that with back up. GY Stats. What is so revealing about GEOrgia’s 5% reply is that anyone with any even casual knowledge of the economy and unemployment would know that a 5% unemployment figure is historically fantastic. Can you imagine anyone thinking it would be 5% in this economy?  Maybe in North Dakota, but here? It is a sad testament to just how unprepared and lacking in the least amount of financial awareness is our mayor.

Venita Building Purchase
2. When asked about why the city spent over $12 million for a building their own appraiser said was worth $9 million or less, GEOrgia said the building cost GY no money (the same as all the GY press releases).  I told her that was false since they used $4 mil in city cash to purchase and improve the building that they have failed to account for in that statement.  Here are all the details.  $12 mil building.

3. GEOrgia asked, “why would a bank lend us the money if it was a bad deal?” So I explained to her that the bank was loaning the city only $10 mil for a building which after improvements will have nearly $16 mil invested (again she’s not accounting for the city’s $4 mil in cash). Of course they would lend $10 mil on a secured property with improvements that appraised at $8 mil and will have $6 mil in improvements planned for a total of about $14 million.
4. Then GEOrgia checked her notes and read back to the group nearly verbatim what I had just told her about the total investment in the property.  I didn’t say, “I told you so” but I was greatly tempted to.

Utility Funds Transferred to Shore Up General Fund
5. I asked her if she thought it was “appropriate” for the city to raise utility rates by nearly 25% over the past few years and then turn around and year after year transfer around $3 million dollars per year from the utility funds to the general fund in order to keep spending money in the general fund. To that she replied that, “those monies are in a separate fund”. To which I said, “yes they are and every year those excess funds of about $3 million are being transferred to the General Fund”.  Here is the back up which substantiates my claim. GY Budget

Where Did $35 Million Dollars Go If You Have Passed “Balanced Budgets”?
6. I asked GEOrgia what happened to the general fund balance dropping from $55 mil to $20 mil and all she would say is that those questions have already been answered which happens to be an untrue statement.  It is untrue because city of GY employees have not been willing to speak to me or answer any of my questions since GEOrgia took office as mayor.  They tell me to submit a records request if I want to know anything.  Here are the facts on the $35 million.
7. In reply to that, she said that I was twisting the numbers and that what I was saying was not true to which I answered that those are actual balances directly from GY’s budget book and they are all documented on my blog.  I think that may have been when she suggested that she call me some other time to meet with her and city officials who could answer all my questions.  And that is when I left the table.

You Decide
I do not consider any of those to be “gotcha” questions for a mayor.

GEOrgia, the mayor of a city of 65,000 does not know the employment rate, she does not know how much was spent on a building project, she does not realize that the city is spending excess utility funds in the General Fund after increasing utility rates, she cannot explain where $35 mil went, in fact, she does not even realize that it is gone, and she does not understand why a bank would lend money for a 30% overpriced building when the new owner has put up 60% of the funds to purchase and improve it.

There is nothing gotcha about these questions and there should be no issue for a mayor who confidently and repeatedly tells the public that every thing is just fine in Goodyear to answer these questions.  What we have here is simply GEOrgia’s incompetence on display.

Is it any wonder that as her surrogate excuse makers on the PC website have stated, they were “gotcha”, “demeaning” questions?  When one does not even know the answer to most or all of the questions asked, I guess that could feel a bit “gotcha” and demeaning.  It is just too bad that some of our newspaper outlets won’t ask any good questions of GY’s city council and demand no spin answers.

It is scary to think that this is who is our top elected official in Goodyear.  Is it any wonder Goodyear is $300 million in debt, has an open field with nearly $50 million of your money sunk into it that was supposed to be a mall, spends more on interest payments than on public safety, and is unable to borrow money through bonds because Goodyear is over the constitutionally applied debt limit for cities?

*This is the same guy who wrote nasty stuff on my blog about Cavanaugh some time ago and then when Cavanaugh told him off he wrote to me that “someone hacked my email and that was not me who wrote that” even though his email and comments all came from the same I.P. address so to believe his claim about being hacked, you would have to believe that someone must have broken into his house and used his computer to send out his nasty grams.


6 Responses

  1. What is sad is that people in any neighborhood rely on what other “honorable” people tell them. EDUCATE yourselves people! It CANT get more clear when the facts are staring you in the face with links to documents supplied BY THE CITY YOU LIVE IN. And I question each and every one of you… has anyone EVER posted PROOF that Howard’s blog and supporting documents are lies and made up? The answer to this is NO. It is easier to ignore it than it is to answer publicly or research it. GEOrgia is reading a book prepared for her, not looking into the answers to the questions herself, probably because she doesn’t understand the answer. And what she should be doing is asking questions until she does understand. You don’t need a genius for a mayor or council, just someone who is persistent until an answer that is satisfactory to THE PEOPLE is given. Someone who is a leader and not a follower, tenacious, fact finding. ANYONE can read a prepared answer and MOST people are followers. WAKE UP. SINK WITH THE SHIP OR SWIM TO THE LIFE RAFT.

    • Ms. Mary Miller, Outstanding, well-informed comment. We are paying attention and will share this with others. As a concerned citizen who is outraged as well, is finding after many years of following Arizona law makers and “rulers” that they do not answer our letters, they do not answer out questions and simply ignore the people and taxpayers. What needs to be done to shed the harsh spotlight on these elected officials making costly decisions that negatively impact the taxpayers who simply cannot afford what they propose. Keep us informed and I’ll share the information with others who may know how to help us (the people/taxpayers).

    • This whole situation is very, very serious and must be taken to a higher level. The $80,000 assistant must go. I’ll take the job for half that salary. Where do I apply?

  2. It is really sad that a Mayor from any city could possibly think that the unemployment rate anywhere in this country (let alone Goodyear) is at 5%.

    It also pains me as a Goodyear taxpayer that we’re paying for an $80,000 asssistant to the Mayor who’s first job should be to keep the Mayor briefed up on unemployment rates, city budgets, etc. That way she won’t be able to have her surrogates take to the “PebbleCreek airwaves” and claim she was set up with “gotta” questions.

    It is also painful to hear the Mayor openly pointed her finger and shouted at Goodyear citizens and identified by name those that she considers her “enemies” in a public setting with at least 70 people in attendance.

    It sounds like a very threatening situation for the citizens she wagged her finger at.

    Quite honestly with all the crazies idolizing politicians these days (Georgia surrogates included) what on earth was she thinking?

    Her behavior was unbecoming of an elected official and it is so unfortunate that it was not captured on video. I am guessing it would have gone viral.

    • “It also pains me as a Goodyear taxpayer that we’re paying for an $80,000 asssistant to the Mayor who’s first job should be to keep the Mayor briefed up on unemployment rates, city budgets, etc. That way she won’t be able to have her surrogates take to the “PebbleCreek airwaves” and claim she was set up with “gotta” questions.”

      It also pains us as well. It sounds like a very unprofessional group is bullying the people. Something has to be done about this. We will support you in proactive solutions. Sounds like it all has to be taken to a higher level and investigation begun.

      Think, The cities of Bell and Vernon, CA. Padded 6-figure pensions enriched a handful at the expense of the taxpayers. google those cities — some of these officials have been sent to prison.

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