Workday is a family affair

Nicolas Ortega quite possibly owes his very existence to the city of Glendale.

His parents first met as city employees more than 10 years ago. They are now supervisors in different departments, and on Thursday, they took 9-year-old Nicolas to work as part of an annual tradition in which Glendale's municipal workplace turns into a family affair.

He spent the first half of the day with his mom, Donna Hernandez, an office supervisor for Glendale Water & Power, and the second half with his dad, Bryan Ortega, a wastewater supervisor for the Public Works Department.

While he thought his dad's field work was interesting, it's “not the job for me,” Nicolas said, adding he still had his heart set on being a professional baseball player.

He was one of dozens of children who went to work Thursday with their parents to get a taste of the world of civil service, starting with a welcome and introduction from Mayor John Drayman in the City Council chambers.

“Thank you for bringing your parents to work,” Drayman told the children, who ranged in age from 8 to 15.

In addition to shadowing their parents at work and a chance at a picture with the mayor, the children were treated to hot dogs, a climbing wall and other activities at the City Hall complex midday.

But before the “fun fair,” Drayman spent 20 minutes fielding questions from the young guests as part of their introduction to municipal government: No, City Council members are not bound by term limits. Yes, young people come to City Hall all the time. No, he is not 52 years old.

After they were done with him, the children moved on to other city professionals, including a librarian, police officer, firefighter, city attorney, an administrative analyst and City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian.

But they had a hard time competing with Park Ranger Russell Hauck, who for several minutes stood in front of the dais with a 4-foot-long garter snake wrapped around his right arm and a tarantula clinging to his left hand as he gave a job description that ranged from canyon rescues to environmental education and park enforcement.

The majority of parents packed into the chambers held less risky positions, be it administrative analysts, street repair workers or other rank-and-file jobs — jobs Kassakhian described as the “life blood” of Glendale's government.

Nancy Ohanian, who works in customer service for Glendale Water & Power, said she decided to bring her 15-year-old daughter to work Thursday as a way to put their lives in context.

“It's a great opportunity for them to appreciate the time we're away from them,” she said.

Her daughter, Anrineh, said that while she still had aspirations of broadcast journalism, the day-long education had provided her with that insight.

“I understand all the work she puts into it,” she said of her mom.


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