COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

There’s been much talk of public safety during the campaign for Glendale City Council, focusing on whether our police and fire department personnel are overpaid. Some even characterize a police officer’s job in Glendale as a walk in the park. Having just donated a tree for Arbor Day dedicated to my late brother, Don Cullings, who spent 20-plus years with the Los Angeles Police Department, mostly in the robbery homicide division, I’ve been reflecting on how the role of the police has changed over the years.

The current “Coffee with the C.O.P.P.S.” program (“Fostering good police relationships,” March 7) is very different from the quasi-military style of public contact my brother favored. It’s no walk in the park now, nor was it then. But I think the modern community-based policing holds great promise. Reducing crime is the best way to save money on public safety personnel. I believe prevention is the best cure for crime.

A recent Pew Center report indicates that one in every 31 adults in the United States resides in a corrections facility. A Common Dreams article on the study points out that Washington state bases its prison construction program on fourth-grade reading scores because there is a correlation between poor reading skills and ending up in jail. Rather than work to increase reading scores, they build more prisons. I don’t think this is a prudent approach.

I think Glendale voters who are concerned with public safety should consider the school board races of equal importance as the City Council contests. If we provide more educational opportunities now, we won’t have to increase our police force so much later.

I enjoyed the March 5 Glendale Council PTA-sponsored forum for candidates for the Glendale Unified School District and Glendale Community College boards (“Candidates talk budget, safety,” March 6).

I attend many Glendale Unified board meetings and watch others on cable, so I’m very familiar with the contributions of the three incumbents. I was extremely pleased to hear from challengers Christine Walters and Eric Sahakian. Her background in finance and his in education are excellent fits for the difficult tasks ahead.

I’m planning on voting for Joylene Wagner, Walters and Sahakian. I believe bringing in a few new ideas so the board can see more perspectives is the best approach at this critical time. I also think that if Greg Krikorian and Chuck Sambar are not returned to office, they’ll continue to volunteer with many education and youth-related nonprofits that augment school programs. Their many years in public service give them the name recognition so badly needed in fundraising campaigns during these difficult economic times. I think the voters should free them up to serve the community in different capacities.

I’m less familiar with the Glendale Community College board members and thank the PTA for giving me the opportunity to view the four candidates in action. Again, regardless of which three gain office, the students and community will be well served, in my opinion. My personal choices are Ann Ransford, Armine Hacopian and Anita Gabrielian. I hope challenger Vrej Agajanian volunteers to help the college set up a TV station and keep a watchful, engineering-trained eye on the construction of the Garfield campus.

Now is the perfect time for community members to volunteer their talents to help public agencies and schools cope with falling budgets and increased demand for services. Perhaps a campus TV station could produce original programs that could be sold to other venues to help raise funds. Perhaps the local entertainment-related companies with facilities in Glendale and any industry employees who live here will donate and volunteer to support a new endeavor.

I urge everyone eligible to vote in Glendale or the Glendale Unified and Glendale Community College districts, who may not be registered, to do so by Monday. Those, and the already registered, can vote by mail or at the polls. Our neighbor, the city of Los Angeles, recently held an election where only 15% of the registered voters turned out. Let’s do better here.


 SHARON WEISMAN is a Glendale resident.

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