Talk about a messy divorce.
The preliminary dissolution of the nuptials of a prominent couple triggered an investigation into ADI, a development firm that is accused of inflating costs on city-related projects. In itself an important story, but what has actually seemed to catch fire is the manner in which the information has been presented to the community.
I had an opportunity to watch a portion of the Glendale City Council meeting on Tuesday night and saw council members being vilified – both as a group and individually – and commended at the same meeting. The council took heat from some speakers during the public comment portion of the meeting for not seeing earlier the alleged misconduct of ADI. Other speakers applauded the sitting council in part for the improvements it has spearheaded for the city of Glendale and for undertaking a job for which members are underpaid and overworked.
The driving force of all the comments, however, appeared to be the media coverage of the ADI investigation.
It appeared to me that the coverage garnered as much attention as the issue itself. While no one either on the dais nor in the audience was suggesting to quiet freedom of the press, there was a repeated cry for responsible journalism that didn’t present a rush to judgment. Sharon Weisman, a Far North Glendale resident, brought up the case of Richard Jewell who was accused of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996. The media’s rush to judgment in that situation damaged both the man and the media.
Sharon’s husband, Bill, also took the podium. He added that like many people he’s waiting for the facts to come out. He said that if the allegations are true, anyone in the city of Glendale who pays taxes has been defrauded but reminded all that the Glendale City Council wasn’t alone in using ADI. Outside auditors have looked at ADI over the years and other cities have used its services due in part to its ability to receive the attractive 9% tax credit available for some projects. City manager Jim Starbird added that ADI construction in Glendale has been reexamined since allegations were made publicly of shoddy construction and, according to Starbird, all four projects have been safely constructed.
Having the community raise questions regarding any project that is paid for with public funds or approved by a governmental agency is not only a right, but a responsibility. After all, it wasn’t a government representative that recognized the design discrepancy for the building proposed for the former site of Plumb Crazy right here in La Crescenta – it was a local citizen. However, making claims and allegations without all the facts is irresponsible – whether by a private citizen or public corporation.
Finally, unlike the City of Bell – which was referenced at Tuesday night’s meeting – our council members did not run away (literally) from its constituency, but sat on the dais, ready to take what was being dished out.
If you have cable, I invite you to see for yourself how Tuesday night’s meeting went. The next broadcast of the Housing Authority/Redevelopment Agency and Glendale City Council meetings takes place tomorrow night, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 1 p.m. on channel 6.