Incoming Glendale councilwoman details goals for eight-month term

Incoming Councilwoman Paula Devine laid out ambitious goals for her roughly eight-month term Tuesday night, including looking into putting one-way streets in downtown Glendale and forming a “blue-ribbon panel” to tackle long-term pension reform.

She also called on her colleagues to support a review of zoning rules that permit downtown development, a fiery topic during campaign season as an antidevelopment sentiment has swept through the city following council approval of thousands of new units.

“Obviously this is a lot to do in eight months, but I am up to the challenge,” Devine, a retired teacher, said following her swearing-in ceremony before about 80 people at City Hall.

Devine, whose term is shorter than usual because she is replacing an appointed council member, promised she would improve traffic safety, slow down development and improve pension issues while on the campaign trail.

Although Devine was supposed to serve 10 months, it took about a month and a half for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder to finish counting the ballots from the June 3 election as well as other administrative issues, shortening her term.

The former member of the city’s Commission on the Status of Women replaces Councilman Frank Quintero. He was supposed to retire from office in April 2013, but stayed on as an appointed official to fill a seat left vacant by another councilman who stepped down before the end of his four-year term.

“There is no doubt that she is going to do a wonderful job,” Quintero said before receiving a standing ovation.

As much as the swearing-in ceremony focused on welcoming Devine, it served as Quintero’s final time on the dais after roughly 13 years. His remarks mostly centered around the economic recession and how, in his opinion, Glendale has “weathered the storm.”

The city faced multimillion-dollar deficits throughout the recession and is currently in the beginning stages of a second round of staff restructuring that is set to feature hefty buyouts. Salaries and retirement benefits have dampened Glendale’s fiscal health.

Although the city has made strides by requiring employees to contribute more of their own paychecks to their retirement benefits, it’s not enough to stem long-term impacts, Devine said, as she proposed the blue-ribbon panel, which she envisions as a sounding board for new ideas.

Her call for a mobility study was prompted by the slew of 22 traffic fatalities in Glendale since 2008 and her take on development follows an antidevelopment response among some residents to the construction boom.

Devine’s proposals all need support from another council member to get off the ground.

Councilman Dave Weaver cautioned his new colleague that she will have a steep learning curve, but added she shouldn’t fear ruffling feathers.

“You will not be a successful councilwoman until you make some enemies,” he said.

Devine plans to run again in April for a full term. There will be two council seats up for grabs during that municipal election.

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