Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian on Tuesday clarified statements he made last week in which he equated working without pay to shutdown the city’s redevelopment agency to slavery.
At a meeting of the so-called Successor Agency, created to wind down the Redevelopment Agency according to state law, Najarian said his reference was intended to be a metaphor to illustrate the position local officials had been put in.
“When I alluded briefly to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery, it was simply a metaphor indicating that without compensation, this agency is not only being forced to meet, but will be forced in the future to cannibalize the very institutions that we find near and dear to our hearts in Glendale,” Najarian said.
His comments came on the same day Assemblyman Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles) issued a statement slamming Najarian’s reference as “inappropriate and offensive.”
“While I agree that redevelopment is critical for our cities to thrive, the loss of redevelopment stipends for a city councilperson cannot compare to the horrors of slavery or to the plight of African American growth and development in this country, marked as it was in its first two centuries by violence and bondage,” Davis, who is black, said in his statement. “I strongly believe the use of slavery as a means to make this point is both inappropriate and offensive.”
On Feb. 1, a state law forced Glendale and about 400 other cities to eliminate their redevelopment agencies. Since then, Glendale officials have been outlining ways to cope without the millions in incrementally higher property tax revenues for developments, such as the Americana at Brand and affordable housing.
In Glendale, the City Council, which once served in the dual role as the Redevelopment Agency, took on the title of Successor Agency to guide the dissolution without being paid a stipend.
-- Britanny Levine, Times Community News
Twitter: @brittanylevineCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times