COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

The response to my essay about the fire department compensation by Mike Morgan is indicative of a weakness in democracies in general - A public untrained and unfamiliar with critical thinking. Mike Morgan along with many other community organizers in the foothills are proponents of having the city of Los Angeles stop the sale and development of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course. Somehow he, as a Glendale resident, can request or demand policy direction at another city, but the reverse is not acceptable.

A number of his arguments are so misplaced that it almost needs a whole course in basic reasoning. I am a stakeholder in Glendale and possibly pay many times what Morgan pays in property taxes, but my residence location should not have any bearing on the concept of making a democratically elected government accountable. Government waste, abuse or corruption, if unchecked, leads to other more distasteful and often cruel practices. But if we accept the argument that we must be stakeholders before we take a reasonable stand, then all U.S. residents would have the right to voice their opinions about how Glendale spends taxpayer dollars.

The city government takes in millions from the county, the state and the federal government. As such, we are all stakeholders, but there is an arguably stronger link. Glendale's practices in defining pay and compensation is justified on the compensation levels at other cities. Those other cities would also look to Glendale for guidance on their pay and benefits. We are therefore linked in a spiraling compensation scheme where the pay rate of one city's employee group increases the compensation of the others.

Here is another troubling issue with Morgan's statements — that a landlord who resides in another city would have no say in the governance where his income property and investment are. Anyone who would consider Morgan's logic as acceptable would, in effect, deny our advocacy as property owners. With more than 62% of Glendale's population living in apartments, and with many of those landlord-investors living outside the city, we could have the majority of residential and commercial property owners paying taxes and not have commensurate influence in city affairs.

Morgan brings out another incredibly obtuse reasoning — that because I supported candidates who did not win an elective office at the last election, I should have no justification for any advocacy. Irrespective of my support of a few winning candidates in the past — John Drayman, Ara Najarian, Frank Quintero — you cannot logically hold a philosophical or ethical concept simply based on an electoral outcome.

Taxation should be fair and equitable. An elected government that directs our tax dollars has a fiduciary obligation to ensure that those funds are not wasted, its disposition free from corruption or corrupting influences, and its distribution should improve the quality of life of all its residents.

Unfortunately, Morgan has not been a voice for the quality of life of residents south of the Ventura (134) Freeway. The disparity of taxpayer dollars distribution is evidenced in salient areas: huge compensation and benefits to city elite unions and management, with an unfair burden to ratepayers with limited income. Those rates are needed to sustain those exorbitant salaries and benefits. The distribution of open space and parkland of Morgan's neighborhood is nearly 10 times the parkland area of our most congested neighborhoods. Morgan's open space advocacy apparently has a very limited reach. Part of the problem is a cult of personality that is now becoming associated with Drayman's strongest supporters, the lack of sensitivity to the thousands of residents who have little voice in the city's affairs, the ethnic divisiveness that permeates the politics of this city, and a general lack of exposure to critical thinking and city governance among the general public.

We need more participation in city affairs irrespective of Morgan's desire to limit the evaluation of municipal government to those who agree with his positions.


?HERBERT MOLANO is a Tujunga resident.

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