'Strange Times' For Phoenix City Council Members

By Christina Estes
Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - 6:41pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - 8:39pm

Phoenix Council Chambers
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Due to social distancing, the public is not allowed inside Phoenix Council Chambers and a virtual meeting was streamed live on April 15, 2020.

Two members of the Phoenix City Council found themselves casting votes they typically would not.

“It’s a little uncomfortable for me to be on this side of Councilman [Sal] DiCiccio, but it’s strange times, “ said Mayor Kate Gallego, describing the council’s vote on a contract with a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm.

Laughter traveled through the phone lines during Wednesday's virtual council meeting, and DiCiccio replied, “I think we switched gears somewhere in there, I don’t know, I’m surprised.”

DiCiccio surprised some people by voting in favor of the $80,000 one-year contract with two one-year renewal options.

“I normally philosophically always oppose these types of contracts, now O’Donnell’s always done a good job, I’ve never disputed that, but this is one of those times that philosophical beliefs come into conflict with common sense, “ he said.

DiCiccio said during this crisis Phoenix needs a team in the nation’s capital. Gallego also cited the pandemic — but as a reason to vote against the deal. 

“I am concerned that we do need to tighten our belt right now and so the length of this contract causes some concern for me,” she said. “I do think in the short-term we need to do all hands on desk and I appreciate, enjoyed working with this firm, I think they do a good job but, I also do think we have to be conservative now.”

Councilman Jim Waring joined Gallego in opposition and everyone else voted yes. The contract calls for the firm Murray Montgomery O’Donnell to work with city departments to identify federal grant opportunities and represent Phoenix face to face with elected officials and agencies that make funding decisions.