Glendale City Council members accused of cutting in line for early COVID-19 vaccinations

Cars lined up in January 2021 at a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Long Beach Convention Center.
During the first phase of COVID-19 vaccinations in December 2020 and January 2021, Californians who qualified had to wait in long lines like this one at the Long Beach Convention Center.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Members of the Glendale City Council cut in line for scarce COVID-19 vaccinations when they first became available, and the chief of the city’s Emergency Medical Services was demoted when he protested, according to a lawsuit filed by the former chief.

Brian Julian, who remains a battalion chief in Glendale’s Fire Department, says in the suit that he lost his position as “EMS chief” and suffered a pay cut just eight days after he complained in January 2021 about the alleged cheating.

At the time, Julian was in charge of the city’s vaccination program, the suit says.

Government rules then mandated that the vaccine be provided in phases only to groups with the highest priority. First came healthcare personnel, followed by essential workers such as police, firefighters, bus drivers and food providers.


On Dec. 29, 2020, during the opening phase for healthcare workers, Silvio Lanzas, then Glendale’s fire chief, ordered Julian to provide vaccinations to a City Council member and four department heads, all of whom were ineligible, Julian’s retaliation complaint against the city alleges.

Six days later, it says, Lanzas instructed Julian to provide vaccine doses to more council members and department heads, which Julian argued would be unlawful.

Lanzas got “very angry” and raised his voice, Julian’s lawsuit says.

After his demotion, Julian “reported Lanzas’ unlawful order and subsequent retaliatory” demotion to the city’s human resources director, but no investigation was undertaken, the suit alleges.

City spokesperson Solene Manoukian declined to comment on the suit, which was filed last week in state Superior Court in Los Angeles County.