Fire Prevention, Government Transparency and a Contract Settlement


“Not Every Hero Wears a Cape – Plan Your Escape!” is the theme of Glendale’s Fire Prevention Week. The city and Glendale Fire Department urge all Glendale families to make a plan to get out safely within two minutes of a residential fire alarm. Fire officials addressed the Glendale City Council, focused on the importance of making a plan, designating roles, for instance one adult should check the top floor, one may be responsible for pets, and for making sure every person in the home knows how to call 911 from a cell phone or from a neighbor’s home if needed, and to practice the plan twice a year with the whole family.

Councilmember Vartan Gharpetian reported on events he had attended, highlighting his specific interest in working to maximize participation in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census.

Councilmember Paula Devine reported on the success of the Montrose Oktoberfest event and the Brand Associates 50th birthday party. Additionally, she inquired about the City’s plan to comply with newly adopted state laws requiring the diversion of food waste. City Manager Yasmeen Beers responded that a contract is in place for businesses that generate more than four yards of organic waste and that staff would report back on those efforts, including work to avert the wasting of food in general. Finally, Devine raised the possibility of a citywide gay pride event next spring. That proposal was approved.

Mayor Ara Najarian also commended the Montrose Verdugo Chamber of Commerce for their work to put on Oktoberfest, noting that he was honored to tap the ceremonial keg.

Representing Wellness Works, Dr. Michael Johnson thanked the council for the City’s support of this year’s “Not on Our Watch” event.

“The City played a major role in providing great support for those who so need to feel the care and love of others, driving the message that veterans suffer damaging and sometimes quiet injuries that push them to suicide. The opportunity to put Southern California at the forefront of fighting these tragedies lies with all of us,” Johnson said.

Next year’s event is calendared for September 11 – 13, 2020, again at Verdugo Park.

Following up on previous recent discussions, the council reviewed a potential lobbyist registration process and relationship-disclosing requirements. A lobbyist is defined as any individual who receives compensation for the purpose of communicating with any public official to influence an administrative or legislative action. The first part of the rules the council reviewed would require registration, a fee set based on the cost of administering the program, and quarterly income and expense reports on lobbying activities.

The advantages of a lobbyist registration process, city staff explained, are these: It enhances government transparency, builds public trust and confidence, and ensures councilmembers know who is seeking to influence them.

Mayor Najarian emphasized the importance of these features.

“I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me [about the upcoming refuse franchising contract], people whom I think are acquaintances – they are acquaintances, or friends – little do I know they’re on the payroll of one of the garbage companies,” he said.

Najarian spoke in support of the registration protocols and for the disclosure of familial and business relationships as well as the disclosure of relationships with civic, fraternal, and religious organizations.

“The goal is to be as transparent as possible, to allow our decisions to be above reproach,” Najarian said. “If we get close to adopting this, I don’t think there’s another city in the entire state of California that has as transparent a system of conducting business. Disclosure does not hurt; it clears the air and only makes us more transparent. We should be proud to set the standard of transparency and honest and open government.”

Specifics will be brought back for the adoption and implementation of both programs.

Director of Human Resources Matt Doyle detailed a contract settled with the Glendale Management Association (GMA) which represents all of the city’s managers, organized into three bargaining groups: city managers, fire service managers, and police department managers (lieutenants and captains). Similar to the memorandum of understanding [MoU] recently negotiated with rank-and-file police officers, the deal runs three years and provides for “modest wage increases” of 1.5% in the first year, no raise in the second year, and 3% in the third. A pay step is added at the end of the contract to solve issues of wage compaction and to encourage officers to promote longevity pay is included to address retention concerns.

“Show me anyone who goes to work and does what they do and doesn’t expect one and a half percent increase a year? Show me one person; raise your hand. When I worked for other people, I expected 3% a year. I think we are being fiscally responsible taking care of the men and women who take care of the safety of this community,” said Councilmember Gharpetian as a response to comments from a frequent public pension critic. He sought further clarification that the cost estimates were “fully loaded,” and included all employee costs including retirement costs.

“I think being fiscally responsible is living within your means. They [the sworn police managers] would like a lot more. They deserve a lot more! But we must live within our means, while working to retain our best,” agreed Devine.

“I’m happy to approve this modest raise,” added Devine, and emphasized the funds for the labor agreement are not funded by [voter-approved] Measure S.

Gharpetian jumped in to agree, “Measure S is going for $25 million for affordable housing and $5 million for infrastructure.”

Finally, to address concerns about the recent mishandling of a community event invitation to the members of the council, staff introduced draft voluntary guidelines aimed at systematizing and streamlining the commendation and council-invite process, to make it “smoother and tangle-free,” Mayor Najarian explained. The final guidelines will be posted on the city’s website for maximum clarity and inclusiveness.

“It is my hope for all community organizations out there that you extend invitations for your public events to all councilmembers,” he said.

In earlier meetings during the day on Tuesday, the council approved an additional $230,000 for the renovation of Fremont Park and approved an updated outreach and marketing plan for the city’s new “monthly housing subsidy program for lower income Glendale senior renters,” including an online application option.