Councilman Sal DiCiccio Pleads for Donations to Block Unions from "Controlling City Hall"
Sal DiCiccio in 2009 after unions helped get him appointed into office.
Guess who is complaining about unions again?
Keogh Parks has secured the support of police and firefighter unions and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. DiCiccio has in his corner the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Republic.
True to form, DiCiccio continues to launch his hypocritical attacks on the very unions that once supported him but are now supporting Keogh Parks.
DiCiccio sent out a plea for political contributions to counter the unions' purchase of "$232,000 in TV time . . . in addition to the 14 negative mailers they have sent to voters. They will stop at nothing to control City Hall."
The irony is that the firefighters unions and former union boss Billy Shields were the driving force behind DiCiccio's appointment to the City Council when then-District 6 Councilman Greg Stanton left to take a job at the Attorney General's Office.
Shields was friends with DiCiccio, who had hired Shields' wife, Lora Villasenor, as his top aide during his first stint on the council in the mid-1990s. She also worked on his 2009 election campaign when he ran to hang on to the District 6 seat he'd been appointed to.
And Billy Shields' brother-in-law, Joe Villasenor, also has close ties with DiCiccio. Villasenor is director of Citizens Protecting Tax Payers, an Arizona corporation that DiCiccio formed in 2011. And Villasenor was still onboard when the paperwork was last updated in January.
His union ties got him into office, but now he runs his re-election campaigns on stamping them out.
In an August 1 e-mail to supporters, DiCiccio cites a union newsletter that quotes fellow Phoenix Councilman Danny Valenzuela, who also is a Glendale firefighter. Valenzuela serves in an entirely different part of the city (District 5) and isn't even up for re-election.
In the newsletter, Valenzuela is urging union members to get involved in their community -- not only by voting but by running for seats on school boards, local, state, and federal offices.
DiCiccio took the following excerpt from Valenzuela's editorial and e-mailed out with his plea for money:
"This election offers the opportunity to get the crucial deciding vote on the Phoenix City Council. The tides of power are shifting to union-friendly members on city councils throughout Arizona."
Valenzuela wrote that in an editorial published in a newsletter for Local 469, the union representing Phoenix plumbers and pipe fitting trades.
DiCiccio complained to his supporters in the e-mail that "the unions have now spent over $500,000 to stop my reforms . . . reforms that will save Phoenix from becoming the next Detroit."
The major political debates at the national and state levels are important. However, politics at the city and local levels often has a much greater impact on your daily life, and the lives of workers in nearly every industry.
As a Glendale Fire fighter and member of the Fire fighter's Union, as well as a Phoenix City Councilman, I have the opportunity to see this in action every day.
While it's important for cities to focus on public sector unions representing city workers, it also is important to focus on the unions that represent workers in the private sector, representing workers from various trades, who compete for city contracts.
This is why I encourage union members to focus on what is going on in local government and who is representing them. Too often, candidates who advocate for policies that harm working families go unnoticed. Interests that are anti-union and anti-worker have put a stranglehold on local governments. With the increased engagement of unions on local races, that strangle hold is coming to an end.
The tides of power are shifting to union-friendly members on city councils throughout Arizona. This election offers the opportunity to get the crucial deciding vote on the Phoenix City Council. There are important races happening in Phoenix Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8.
Real change does not happen overnight. Councils and legislatures do not flip like a light switch. It takes a long-term approach and a plan to realize change. Our job is to ensure that union members are part of that change.
Having the support of our elected officials is of great value but even more important is having union members in places of political influence. There are no stronger allies than those who have worn our uniforms and walked in our shoes.
Local 469 members live all across Arizona and in diverse communities. I call on each of you to consider running for public office. From your local school board to your city council, state or federal, our communities deserve to have the voice of a hard-working union member serving.
Union members are beginning to awaken and hear the call of public service. Brothers and sisters, I ask you to join me and see the positive difference we can make.
Daniel Valenzuela is a fire fighter and Phoenix City Council member representing District 5.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.