By Julie BUTCHER
On Tuesday night, the Glendale City Council voted unanimously on the placement of a memorial bench and plaque and the planting of an Eastern Redbud tree near the children’s area in Brand Park to honor the memory of Lauren Anne Muñoz Geoghegan.
Lauren Anne Muñoz Geoghegan was murdered, along with her partner Jay Austin, in July 2018 while on a yearlong cycling trip in Tajikistan during a terrorist attack the state department described at the time as “senseless.”
As Congressmember Adam Schiff said at her funeral, “It is how Lauren and Jay lived that moves us.”
Her parents told the council that they had thought immediately of Brand Park because of how much Lauren loved the park, and Glendale, and children.
“She loved children and they loved her,” Lauren’s mom said, sharing the family’s vision of the bench, tree and flowers as a “place to rest and converse, a place of pleasure and comfort, a place for reflection, a place to bring joy to others as Lauren did.”
Next, the council approved a three-year contract for weed abatement after Councilmember Dan Brotman clarified that it does not include the use of Roundup weed killer.
“We don’t use it anywhere, as I understand,” the councilman said in querying City staff. City staff responded, “We don’t use glyphosate [Roundup is a brand name] in public works or the parks.”
“I’m not entirely comfortable relying on today’s EPA,” Brotman opined. The contract includes the use of four chemicals approved for use by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. “That in itself doesn’t give me a lot of comfort.” He urged the city to continue to research emergent effective organic alternatives during the course of the contract, which was approved for $122,400 annually, $10,200 authorized now.
Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas provided an update and “warnings and recommendations” on the status of the coronavirus in Glendale: “As you’re seeing in the news, the case numbers are not good.”
As of Nov. 14, Lanzas reported, there are more than 54 million cases worldwide accounting for more than one million deaths; in the United States, there are more than 10 million cases and more than 243,000 deaths; in California, over one million cases and over 18,000 deaths; in Los Angeles County, 322,287 cases and 6,874 deaths; and in Glendale, 5,234 cases and 186 deaths.
“Deaths are a trailing indicator,” the chief said, explaining his concerns about peaks showing up sooner now following peaks in the number of cases diagnosed. He said he believed because the people getting sick are now “in a younger demographic.”
“We’re seeing quicker death turnaround times.”
Lanzas noted the steady increase in numbers in LA County (above 2,000 new cases per day in the past few days) and the 14-day per capita averages showing Glendale “right up there with Burbank at 19.26 cases per capita.”
“We can beat this if we all fight together. We can continue to keep the city safe and the numbers low. I call it the three Ws,” the chief said. “Wear a mask. Watch your space. Wash your hands. You should walk around expecting that everyone you don’t live with is positive.”
Lanzas attributed spikes in all of the numbers due to families mixing in small and large numbers, in gatherings and protests, locally and on a national scale.
“If you thought we were out of the woods, we are not,” he said.
In a small bright spot, walking in the city is up 27%.
Councilmember Paula Devine thanked the fire chief for his report and congratulated him on his election to the board of the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association (LAAFCA).
“It’s always good to have one of our own leaders at the table,” she said.
Devine also cited a commendation the city received from Mono County’s sheriff after the fire and police departments treated, transported and saved the life of her father, who had collapsed at his front door with groceries in his arms. After the Glendale man was safe, firefighters went back and put away his groceries and cleaned up.
“They went above and beyond to provide great service,” Chief Lanzas reported.
“They’re heroes,” Devine said. “Plus, this shows the importance and benefit of welfare checks.”
“I want to express my deep appreciation to everyone in our greater Glendale community who have shown support for the people of Armenia and Artsakh. It was incredibly touching and appreciated to see the Glendale Dia de los Muertos committee to put up an ofrenda on Artsakh Avenue to show support and concern for the war and terrorist attacks happening in Armenia and Artsakh,” Councilmember Ardashes “Ardy” Kassakhian commented.
Kassakhian also commended the staff of the city clerk’s office for the conduct of the election, particularly in light of record voter turnout, and asked that the council adjourn in memory of former assistant city clerk Rita Faye Mostiller-Buchanan.
“I remember her sharp wit and humor and zest for life,” he said. “She was one of the most knowledgeable people I worked with in the city clerk profession and one who was honest, proud of her profession and the role she had in defending democracy. She enjoyed interacting with people.”
Councilmember Ara Najarian commended the quick actions of the city’s police chief Carl Povilaitis and by representatives of Airbnb in shutting down a potential party on Linden Avenue in northeast Glendale. Airbnb called about a party being promoted online that they were having trouble “pulling the plug on.” Najarian called the chief who reported that officers were sent to the reported shuttle pick-up spot and to the location of the alleged “stripper party.”
“When the shuttle showed up, it was not registered. And it had not been registered in a while,” Povilaitis said then explained how the potentially dangerous party was thwarted.
Finally, the council delayed action of two pending appeals from the city’s Design Review Board (910 Laird Drive and 1226 Vista Court) likely into 2021.