Week in Review

CITY HALL

The council voted 4 to 1 Tuesday to formally oppose a proposed tunnel linking the 710 and 210 freeways or any other gap-closure option.

Councilman Dave Weaver voted against the resolution, saying not enough research of the tunnel’s effects has been completed.

The contentious topic generated several hours of public comment on all sides and drew more than 20 residents and elected officials from cities across the region.

Council members acknowledged the traffic issues many Southern California residents face because of the freeway gap but said the tunnel was not the right solution for the 21st century.

Rather, commercial freight traffic should be moved to rail transportation, and mass-transit options should be improved, council members said.

Councilman Ara Najarian, who has been vocal in his opposition to the tunnel, called it an outdated and grossly expensive project reminiscent of the “Eisenhower era.”

 Multimillion-dollar upgrades and renovations to the Central Library, Columbus Elementary soccer field and Central Avenue will all be postponed in response to an uncertain bond market caused by the state’s budget, city officials said Tuesday.

The state’s budget, signed Tuesday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, includes a $1.7-billion take away of local redevelopment funds, of which Glendale will have to give up $11 million.

The California Redevelopment Agency will likely file a lawsuit challenging the take away as unconstitutional, which has thrown the state’s market into uncertainty, said City Manager Jim Starbird. A similar lawsuit was filed last year when the state unsuccessfully attempted to take $350 million in local redevelopment funds.

In light of the city’s general fund budget gap, the city had been planning to fund a number of this year’s major capital improvement projects through bonding. Even if the state’s grab for funds is overturned, local projects will still be hampered by the city’s inability to bond in this fiscal year.

 Low-income residents looking for affordable housing will have several opportunities this summer to enter lotteries for federally subsidized complexes.

Applications are available for a new 23-unit community currently under construction for extremely low-income adults with disabilities who, for a family of two, must earn no more than $15,850 a year.

In the coming months, applications will be available for two new affordable family housing projects — the 68-unit Glendale City Lights and 30-unit Gardens on Garfield — which are under construction.

Affordable housing projects subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development features very low rent where residents pay 30% of their adjusted income, so spots are always in high demand, said Sona Mooradian, an administrative analyst for the city’s Department of Community Development and Housing. And in light of the recession, demand has become even more heightened in recent months.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Due to citywide budget cuts, three Glendale police officers have received layoff notices, setting the stage for a Sept. 30 termination, officials said.

In an alternate scenario, the officers would lose their rankings and be reassigned to other duties, but only if the department can find room for them.

The officers are in their probationary year, having been recently hired to the department, he said.

The officers had to complete the initial hiring phase, enter and finish the police academy, and serve a probationary period as officers , said Matt Doyle, the city’s human resources director.

The Glendale Police Officers’ Assn. is also trying to come up with solutions to retain the three officers, said Officer Larry Ballesteros, president of the union.

 A former Armenian consul, three Glendale residents and a substance abuse counselor have been arrested for allegedly selling immigration letters to undocumented convicted felons, including murderers and rapists, that allowed them to stay in the United States and avoid deportation.

The defendants — former Armenian consul Norair Ghalumian, 52, of Burbank; and Glendale residents Hakop Hovanesyan, 54; Margarita Mkrtchyan, 41; Elvis Madatyan, 47; and Valencia resident Oganes Nardos, 36 — were named in four separate criminal complaints for obstructing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement proceedings, federal officials said. They were all arrested Monday and Tuesday morning.

The arrests capped a two-year investigation into the alleged fraud scheme.

They allegedly sold more than two dozen letters of refusal, which are generally issued by consulates and embassies, stating that a country will not grant a travel document to a specific person, said ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

And there could be more letters circulating, officials said.

EDUCATION

Glendale Community College administrators and employees are continuing to grapple with solutions to make up for state funding cuts of up to $3 million, according to the latest estimates.

The college’s $88-million budget will have to shrink because of state cuts, and with nearly 90% of reduction coming from salaries and benefits, there are few places to turn to for savings, officials said.

Employees have been working with administrators in an attempt to protect workers from salary cuts, a step suggested by the college’s budget committee, made up of representatives from the faculty, staff, administration and the student body.

Officials do not plan to cut jobs because of the state reductions, interim President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay said.

Glendale Community College officials are gearing up to offer a new training program in green technology education after receiving a $100,000 state grant to develop an online curriculum.

Administrators will use the funds to craft online distance-learning courses that will help students prepare for jobs related to renewable energy technology as part of the state’s pilot program to put more people to work in what is expected to be a growing industry, interim President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay said Monday.

The college was one of 10 institutions to receive a portion of the $500,000 doled out by the California Department of Education and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office for green technology education.

BUSINESS

Experts are hoping for an economic jolt from a group of schmucks and a Chihuahua, among other players.

The films “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2” and “Dinner for Schmucks” were named Tuesday as two of 25 projects that will receive state tax breaks meant to curb the effects of “runaway productions,” which could lead to an economic recovery in Glendale and Burbank.

The California Film Commission selected the projects and will offer the incentives to 30 movie and television productions this year that opt to shoot within the state, instead of pursuing generous tax incentives to locate elsewhere.

Analysts, business owners and officials have blamed the problem of runaway productions for draining major studio spending from California and forcing cutbacks at the array of area businesses that serve the entertainment industry.


Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
59°