By Ted AYALA
The announcement of the authors appointed to write the arguments for a handful of ballot measures appearing in the forthcoming election was made at Tuesday’s Glendale City Council meeting.
Members of the public, as well as city government, will be drafting arguments for and against Measures C, D, E, and O. Their statements will be due at the end of the month.
The four measures, if passed, could significantly alter the political landscape in Glendale in the coming years. Among the most watched is Measure D, which will ask voters to amend the city charter in favor of district representation. Glendale has employed an at-large election system since its founding.
However, a push for district representation followed a letter received late last year from attorney Kevin Shenkman threatening to sue the city, alleging that Glendale violated the California Voting Rights Act.
City Atty. Michael Garcia, while disputing the allegations that the city’s election system was discriminatory, said that no city in California has been able to win in court against attacks on its at-large system.
Bell, Palmdale and Anaheim are among the cities that were forced to put the choice for district representation before its voters.
City Manager Scott Ochoa was appointed by the city to draft the arguments in favor of Measure D, while resident Brian Ellis was chosen to write the arguments in opposition of the measure. A former member of the city’s Design Review Board, Ellis did not return calls seeking comment as of press time.
Measure E is a similar measure that would establish trustee areas in the election of Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) board members.
Ellis was again appointed to write the arguments against the measure, while Supt. Dick Sheehan and Board of Education President Greg Krikorian will write the arguments in favor.
Glendale Vanguardians, outspoken critics of the city council, were appointed to write the arguments against Measure C. That measure would amend the charter to allow council members to implement salary increases by ordinance, instead of the current system that is decided in proportion to the city’s population.
Councilmember Ara J. Najarian said council ought to be “compelled” to draft the argument in favor of the measure after hearing that his colleague on the dais, Councilmember Paula Devine, refused to endorse the measure on the ballot.
Devine stated that she won’t put her name on the measure, claiming that doing so would influence an electoral decision, a decision that Najarian blasted.
“You can’t hide from [council compensation],” he said. “I’m not going to let somebody hide behind a ballot.”
Measure O is a revenue generating measure that would boost the transient occupancy tax from 10% to 12 %. City staff last year estimated that the change could bring in an additional $800,000 to the city’s coffers with little impact on residents.
Councilmember Dave Weaver, who has been a strong supporter of the measure, will write the argument in favor along with Councilmembers Laura Friedman and Najarian.
Vanguardians will write the opposing argument.
According to the city clerk’s office, ballot arguments are to not exceed 300 words in length. They will appear in a sample ballot at first, include their authors’ names, and will be mailed to voters in March.
Authors’ names will not appear on the final version on Election Day.