By Ted AYALA
In the face of revelations made earlier this week when the U.S. government admitted that over $9 billion destined for repairing Iraq’s infrastructure has gone unaccounted for and possibly stolen, there has been a growing wave of outrage from American citizens.
Resolutions signed by cities asking the federal government to reign in their funding for war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have been making headway. Though purely symbolic gestures, they are also reflective of mounting pressure for the government to invest in domestic projects over foreign ones, especially during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
The Glendale City Council was considering the “Bring War Dollars Home” resolution on Tuesday night, prompting comments from audience members. Montrose resident Roberta Medford, in favor of the resolution, pointed to the “unsustainable cost of the war.”
Discussing the adoption of the resolution the council found itself deeply divided.
“With all due respect, I cannot vote for this resolution,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, a veteran himself. “I feel it’s improper for this council to tell the president what he should do. I believe he knows that it’s up to him and his military commanders when our troops should come home.”
Councilman Ara Najarian also voiced his dissent. “This [resolution] is beyond the scope of the city council,” he said. “If we were to include a condemnation of President Obama’s unilateral declaration of war on the people in Libya then maybe we’d be getting somewhere. But I see this as a feel-good sort of thing. [The resolution] doesn’t have a lot of support from the mayors of this nation of ours. I would leave the defense of our country and residents to the experts in charge.”
Mayor Laura Friedman countered Najarian’s and Weaver’s criticism by noting that prominent cities, most notably Los Angeles, have supported the resolution. She also clarified that the resolution does not call for an immediate withdrawal of American troops. Friedman, citing the loss of the Iraq aid disclosed by the media earlier this week, added, “Can you imagine what $9 billion would do in this country, even in just California? What that would do if it were put into our educational system? Really, at the end of the day, in terms of the war in Iraq, what have we as a nation gotten from it? I’m not sure. For me, as a mayor, I’m very comfortable signing this and represent the feelings of my constituents.”
“I think it’s time for this country to get a grip on reality. I think we’ve lost all sense of proportion – and I say that as a combat veteran of Vietnam,” added Councilman Frank Quintero. “It’s time to put a halt to this. The idea of invading country after country … and spending hundreds of billions of dollars is getting ridiculous. We’re the only ones in the world doing this. It’s time to come back home and build the kind of country others are already building.”
“We can use some of that [$9 billion] for children’s books for the Chevy Chase Library,” said Councilman Rafi Manoukian, voicing his support. On a 3 – 2 split, the Glendale City Council set their support for the resolution.
Moving onto other matters, the council revisited a topic touched upon at a previous meeting, an ordinance prohibiting puppy mills in the city of Glendale. These puppy mills have been under increasing criticism from the public for their alleged inhumane treatment of the animals they sell and the burden they place on pet shelters. Glendale City Attorney Scott Howard, in the preamble before discussion of drafting the ordinance, pointed to the city of Los Angeles’ move to banning the retail sale of puppies and kittens. The ordinance, once drafted and passed, would ban the sale of pets from commercial establishments in the city of Glendale.
Elisabeth Oreck of the Best Friends Society came forward to encourage the council to support an ordinance banning puppy mills.
“It makes no sense to continue manufacturing dogs and cats when so many are killed for lack of space,” she said.
On this matter the council found accord and unanimously voted for to draft an ordinance banning the commercial sale of pets.