Councilmanic Districts – Time to Dust Off a Charter Amendment?
Six years ago, while discussing the platform with John Drayman’s run for city council, council districts was one of the key discussion points. He was totally for it then. Montrose and the Annex had been the stepchildren of Glendale government for as long as John could remember.
The obstacles that John had fought such as obtaining reconstruction of sidewalks and adequate street lights on Honolulu were just but a few of the issues he had confronted with sporadic success. I felt the same way about the way the city dealt with city planning issues in south Glendale with a deficiency in parkland that continues to be a sore point of contention for many residents.
The whole concept of at-large council members flies in the face of the voting patterns by precinct that we can observe on the city clerk’s website. Clearly Drayman won nearly every precinct in the Annex, Verdugo City and Montrose by wide margins and lost nearly all precincts south of the 134 freeway. The concept of a favorite son applies to those council members who focus their energy towards the needs of residents who live in their neck of the woods.
So who speaks for the La Crescenta-Montrose now? Just last Tuesday Gangi Development proposed to the Housing Authority a 53-unit apartment complex at 4031 Pennsylvania Ave. Not only was this land deeded to Mr. Gangi in an exchange a few years ago, but also he is asking the city government for a $10 million dollar subsidy to build the low-income housing. That is a subsidy of $188,679 for each apartment unit by his calculations. But guess who voiced concerns about it from the council dais? No one.
The bulk of the subsidy comes from the Redevelopment Agency that must transfer the 20% of the property tax increment money to the Housing Authority for low-income housing. My contention is that the city has not been too eager to put the rest of the Redevelopment funds into capital improvements for parkland. Had that been the case, maybe Central Park would have been expanded with more green open areas or the Rockhaven property completed as a park/library by now.
Maybe Glendale’s stepchildren should consider dusting off the idea of council districts and lead the effort. We already have de-facto districts as laid out by the GPD. Local representation would not be subject then to issues not part of the neighborhood and a favorite son would step up to fill the void left by John Drayman.
Would Mike Lawler step up?
Foothills Relay for Life
The annual American Cancer 24 hour Foothill Relay for Life will take place at Clark Magnet High School the weekend of May 14.
Every year this walk a thon raises funds to fight cancer. To keep our walkers going, we provide nourishment the entire 24 hours.
Our community is fortunate to have a good deal of our food donated by local restaurants such as Burger King, Berolina Bakery, Dream Dinners, El Charro, Taco Deli, Togo’s and Der Wienerschnitzel.
It’s Der Wienerschnitzel I would like to share a story about. Each year I would contact owner Ron Phillips regarding a donation, which he did. This year I received no communication back. After a few phone calls, I finally reached a long time employee who explained that Ron had passed away from cancer two weeks after last year’s walk. It apparently came on very fast, and very few knew.
While Ron had handled the contracts, he did have a partner who frantically went through his paperwork for commitments. Among those contracts was the Foothill Relay promise, an event that would produce no income for the company, and didn’t require fulfilling.
On the day of the event, we did receive the hot dogs, but there was no mention of what the company was going through.
Not until this year.
We talked about what happened, and I thanked them for the past years. In less than five minutes after this conversation, a call came back from Der Wienerschnitzel stating they were donating again this year.
As I said, we are a fortunate community. Please thank these businesses and the many others that continually give.
Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce
Shares Jim’s Pain
I wanted to thank you for your thoughts about Sierra. Your words came at a perfect time for us. On April 5 we had to say goodbye to our beloved Nopal. She was 13 years old. Our home is strangely quiet without the click-click of her nails on the tile.
The little tidbits from the table go into the garbage because there is no wet nose nudging, hopefully for a treat. She was my dog-daughter and there is a hole in our hearts that waits to be filled … someday.
Thank you again.
Mary Ann Brooks
New and Improved Councilman?
Councilman Rafi Manoukian’s nomination of Richard Espiritu to the Traffic and Parking Commission is perhaps the most illustrative example of the post-election, new and improved Manoukian.
In a 2008 local newspaper article: “Court records show that Espiritu has been convicted twice for driving on a suspended license in Glendale and, in 2001, for the ‘unauthorized entry of a dwelling’ – a conviction that led to three years of probation and restitution fines.”
It went on to state, “Even in terms of his advocacy for disabled access, Espiritu appears to have misrepresented himself as a doctor at dozens of City Council meetings over the past two years.” Thankfully, Manoukian seems to have finally bent to public opinion, and Espiritu, the phony chiropractor/disability “expert,” has removed his name from nomination citing health reasons.
Manoukian’s nomination of Vartan Gharpetian to the parks commission is interesting too. Parks commissioners represent the interests of Glendale residents with regard to recreational facilities and our open spaces. Yet, while serving as chairman of a Design Review Board – tasked with protecting residential and neighborhood integrity issues – Gharpetian did just the opposite, creating a private advocacy group about which then-fellow commissioner John Cianfrini stated in a 2007 article “the group was organized to counteract the influence of the city’s 19 homeowners associations.” The conflict of interest led to Gharpetian being unseated.
For those who do not recognize Gharpetion’s name, he was the DRB chair who approved the monstrous visual obscenity of a building at the corner of Broadview Drive and Verdugo Road which blots out the view of the Verdugo Mountains in the Crescenta Valley.
The new and improved Manoukian also nominated Aram Kazazian for Glendale Water & Power Commission, but in a 1997 newspaper article chronicling Kazazian’s circumventing of city ordinances to build a 13,750-square-foot house in Montecito Park, “El Tovar” – some 6,000 square feet in excess of the legal limit – the article states: “The City Council referred the mystery to a San Diego law firm, which detailed its investigation in a 36-page report delivered last week. The report assigns much of the blame for the situation to Kazazian, who allegedly used his position on two city building commissions to manipulate normal land-use procedures to his advantage.”
I could go on about Manoukian’s nomination of Brian Ellis, a Bob Yousefian retread to the Design Review Board or Razmik Grigorian to the Arts & Culture Commission, who previously pushed for the creation of a new arts department, or Greg Astorian to the Planning Commission who, as a prominent Realtor and consultant, would be the very perception of conflict of interest. But why continue?
The big question is why Council members Frank Quintero, Dave Weaver, Ara Najarian and Mayor Laura Friedman demonstrated little evidence of having spines and expressed no objection to these nominations?
What a difference one election can make.