Chamber president says city must address discrimination ordinance
by Glendale Chamber of Commerce on August 11th, 2016

​By DARRELL JACKSON, The Glendale Star

After receiving numerous inquires regarding the city council’s position on discrimination, Glendale Chamber of Commerce President Robert Heidt is asking council to decide on the city’s future.

“I think, in general, the council has to do something related to this issue,” Heidt said in a recent phone interview. “Looking ahead, after what happened in North Carolina and other places, the council needs a position and have been too silent on this.”

The NBA recently removed its all-star game from North Carolina after the state passed anti-LGBT legislation, but the Glendale Chamber said it is time for the council to come to a decision for the city.

As Glendale is preparing to host the NCAA Final Four in March 2017, Heidt said he has had discussions with members of the NCAA on this issue.

“The NCAA called me recently and applauded our decision to make this stance on this issue,” he said. “I am not sure how high up in the NCAA this person was, but he said it is still not out of the woods, that we could lose this event if the city does not take a stance.”

In the statement released to the media, Heidt said, “On the heels of the NBA decision to move the All-Star Game from North Carolina, the NCAA announced this week that both current and future cities interested in hosting NCAA championships will be asked to outline how they will protect participants and spectators from discrimination. As a citizen, I applaud these major sports organizations for standing up for equality and doing the right thing.”

Heidt said that while he is in favor of the policy and wants the council to pass one, he said he wants council to make a decision, one way or another.

“(Chamber’s) position is, we expect council to make a decision, for or against,” Heidt said. “While we have held numerous events, it is time for Glendale to stop waiting until we are in a crisis mode and it is time for them to be proactive.”

He said the chamber wants council to address this issue as soon as possible and be a leader when it comes to progressive thinking.

“To not address this issue with the NBA and NCAA looking at this issue, and for Glendale not to have one as the sixth largest city in Arizona, is bad for the state for us to not be all-inclusive.”

Heidt said the chamber is all inclusive and does not discriminate, in any form, so he feels it is time for the city to do the same.

“As a chamber, we cannot discriminate, nor should we for any reason,” he said. “I would like the city to have a common ground and we need to be a leader in the West Valley and we should absolutely be proactive on this issue.”

He pointed to other Arizona cities that have passed non-discrimination ordinances and how it has helped those cities.

“Tempe has been more progressive and they have been successful in luring cool, hip companies to relocate there,” he said. “Companies nowadays are asking if cities have ordinances in place, and if not, a lot will not even look at relocation if they don’t.”

He feels Glendale should have an ordinance in place, even though they added language to city contracts last year.

“This city should have had this ordinance in place long before and the fact that it has taken so long, it has been over a year since it was first brought up, is just unacceptable,” he said. “A city our size, we need to be proactive and not just for the LGBT community, but veteran status, race, all discrimination should be addressed.”

The chamber has taken a proactive stance on the issue, recently asking candidates running for mayor and council what their stance was on the issue during their endorsement interviews.

“At the end of the day, I applaud Councilmember Jamie Aldama for recently asking for the issue to be brought back to council,” Heidt said. “This started back with (former Councilmember Gary Sherwood) and we are still waiting to hear what the council’s stance is on it.”

Heidt said he has talked to business owners and the biggest problem is misunderstanding on what the ordinance will do to local business.

“The biggest thing is they think this ordinance is going to change their business and I tell them that the people this ordinance will protect, they are already coming into their businesses,” Heidt said. “Like I always say, everyone’s money is the same and we are about helping Glendale businesses thrive and take a leadership role in the Valley.”

Heidt said his main reason for the statement was to let business know the chamber is listening to their concerns.

“We have been getting phone calls on our position and if we care, and I wanted to remind people that the chamber has a policy in place and now it is time for the city to have one,” Heidt said. “Equal rights for everyone is right and we need to address how businesses are affected. We knew a year ago the NCAA was coming and this ordinance should be a priority.”

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