Threatening faxes sent to the office of Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio over Senate Bill 1322 are causing worry not only for the councilman but also for the group the faxes were sent from.
"This is as offending to us as it is to anyone who read them," said Frank Piccioli, a member of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 2960's executive board and a 911 operator for the city. "We're a professional organization, representing professionals, and that's just not how we do business."
The faxes, a series of them since January, were sent from ASFCME 2960's office on a form with their name.
DiCiccio believes it has gotten progressively worse since the introduction of SB 1322. A few days after the Tucson shootings, DiCiccio says his office received a fax with his face outlined in a bulls-eye and the words "Aiming for you." Other faxes have called DiCiccio a scumbag and included a page out of the dictionary defining the word. Another had a photo of his car.
"That tells me they're following me," DiCiccio said. "This is the car I take my family in. They're trying to intimidate me. The message couldn't be any clearer."
DiCiccio says the intimidation will not work. He plans to continue with SB 1322 but says threats like these are the reason why nothing gets done in politics.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Mike Durham has worked with the Legislature on many issues as a lobbyist and is also a past Union member. Though he does not agree with some of DiCiccio's plans, including SB 1322, he says he has seen intimidation used before.
"It surprises me that the unions might go to that kind of thing, those kinds of attacks, but then again it doesn't," Durham said. "It's kind of been a developing political atmosphere. Unfortunately what it does is it reduces the space and amount of time given to the actual issues."
AFSCME is trying to find who sent the faxes but the machine is in a common area and does not require a password to operate it.
"First thing is finding who did it and then make sure that they're not allowed to use that fax machine for anything like that ever again," Piccioli said. "And discussing with them that it actually hurts the organization when you just react emotionally, I think that's probably what happened. I know a lot of people are emotional about it but you have to separate the emotion from the issue and be professional about it."
Union members are upset with SB 1322 because it would require Phoenix and Tucson to seek bids from the private sector for any services costing $75,000 or more. DiCiccio has said previously that city employees cost the city an average of almost $100,000 a year and first-year city clerks are given 40.5 paid days off per year. Piccioli says these figures are half-truths that are misleading the public.
"There is no city employee who has taken off that many days and not gotten fired," Piccioli said. "You can't do it. But he throws it out there and he gets people upset."
Piccioli believes SB 1322 would give contracts to businesses that can do the job the cheapest but would ignore the quality of the employees and their work.
"They're going to do the cheapest way to get it done," Piccioli said. "You're going to get the cheapest type of work. Privatization failed in Detroit, it failed in Chicago. You have to look at the overall picture. Consistently privatizing city services has failed utterly."
A group that calls itself "Save Phoenix's Taxpayers" has filled out forms to start a recall petition against DiCiccio. The group needs 71,000 signatures to try and get DiCiccio out of office. Calls to the chairman of the group, Kevin Scearbo, went unanswered.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or email@example.com