Week In Review

EDUCATION

Facing significant state funding cuts, the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday to eliminate 112 teaching positions, as class sizes increase to an average of 30 students in the fall.

Board members voted 4 to 1 to raise class sizes for kindergarten through third grade, from an average of 20 students to 30, triggering the layoffs because fewer teachers will be needed. Board member Nayiri Nahabedian cast the dissenting vote.

School districts have until March 15 to notify teachers they may be let go.

Increasing class size would likely put 60 to 80 teachers out of work once retirement, attrition and reassignments are finalized, said John Garcia, assistant superintendent for human resources.

About 1,300 teachers work in Glendale Unified, and hundreds pushed back Tuesday, filling the board room and protesting along Wilson Avenue and Jackson Street with signs such as “Who’s being unreasonable?” Earlier in the day, teachers lined up outside Glendale High School holding up signs protesting the possible class-size increases.

Union President Tami Carlson said teachers had met the district’s request for $3.8 million in annual concessions without capping health benefits, which district officials favor.

Last month, the district declared an impasse in negotiations with the teachers union, setting off a series of procedural fact finding and mediation steps.

 A group of parents who want a parcel tax put on the ballot for Glendale Unified School District has grown from a handful to more than 200 members in a few days, organizers said.

Parents behind Save Our Schools Glendale, or SOS Glendale, will meet with school board members and parent teacher association representatives next week to discuss possible support for an education parcel tax, said the group’s chairman, Edward Bash.

In Culver City and South Pasadena, where voters approved parcel taxes, supporters carefully polled community members and tied the funds to individual programs like music and athletics.

Glendale Parent Teacher Assn. President Lynn Miyamoto said successful campaigns must be handled deliberatively and cautiously, and added there is room for Save Our Schools Glendale to work with the association.

PUBLIC SAFETY

A medical facility that was allegedly performing massages without a permit was ordered Monday to stop soliciting those services.

Code enforcement officials had given CHS Health Care Inc. on the 1600 block of East Colorado Street a 72-hour notice Feb. 23 to obtain a conditional-use permit to perform massages after Glendale police arrested an employee on suspicion of offering sex acts to an undercover officer.

The facility’s operators submitted a permit application Monday, Code Enforcement Officer Rene Sada said.

Still, officials have ordered the facility to cease all massage services, even with the referral of a medical professional.

Because the facility is not permitted to perform massage services, police and code enforcement officials will conduct regular, unannounced checks, he said.

 Five community services officers distributed the brochures to residents and business owners Sunday along Colorado Street as part of the Police Department’s efforts to reduce pedestrian-involved collisions by educating the public.

Glendale Police Sgt. Dennis Smith decided to focus the outreach effort on Colorado Street because nine pedestrians have been struck by motorists on that road in the past year.

At least two people have been hit crossing that intersection in the past year, Smith said.

CITY HALL

Water use in Glendale was down 18% last year compared with 2006, officials said Monday during the first annual wrap-up since the city imposed strict conservation rules last year.

The overall reduction in 2009 beat Glendale Water & Power’s goal of 10%, even with higher-than-average use in the spring months, which was offset in the summer when residents cutback by as much as 20%, according to the report. In 2008, the utility enacted a 10% voluntary conservation effort, but that yielded average cutbacks of 4%.

 Scott Peer’s quest to install solar energy panels has attracted the attention of a state deputy attorney general who says that in blocking the project, the city is violating state law.

Peer has been sparring with city officials since 2008, when they nixed his plans to build a metal structure to support solar panels because it did not meet required setback and height restrictions.

The block came after Glendale Water & Power had already approved his solar project for a state rebate of about $10,000 for the installation, Peer said.

Under the California Solar Rights Act, cities are allowed to deny solar projects only for health or safety concerns, but city officials contend that structures built to support solar panels do not fall under the law and must be approved by the Community Planning Department.

BUSINESS

DineEquity Inc., the Glendale-based owner of IHOP Restaurants and Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, on Wednesday reported earnings of $31 million for 2009, bouncing back from a $154-million loss the year prior.

The family-dining giant has more than 3,400 franchise or company-owned restaurants and employs 225 people at its headquarters and 1,000 nationwide. The majority of IHOP and Applebee’s employees work for franchisees, according to DineEquity.

The company’s gains came largely because of reduced costs through increased efficiency and the sale of 110 company-owned Applebee’s eateries since mid-2008, said Julia Stewart, chairwoman and chief executive of DineEquity.

 Four properties this year were the first in Glendale to be certified by the nation’s leading evaluator of environmentally sustainable development, a shift utility officials said could herald the turning of a green leaf for the city.

The properties include a 22-story office tower at 500 N. Brand Blvd. that received gold certification, according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards.

While the council lists one Glendale development on its website of certified properties, it has notified city officials that buildings at 300, 400 and 450 N. Brand Blvd. have also received LEED certifications, said Ned Bassin, Glendale Water & Power’s assistant general manager of customer and support services.

CB Richard Ellis, which owns and operates the 404,085-square-foot office tower at 500 N. Brand, earned the gold certification through a $160,000 investment in the facility, which is worth about $71 million, said Debra Greene, general manager of the site.

POLITICS

New legislation could change the state’s electoral system to simplify complex races like one in Glendale and Burbank this year, when voters will likely hit the polls four times to fill one Assembly seat.

The election to replace now-Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian as representative of the 43rd Assembly District has become representative of problems with an electoral system where midterm vacancies result in expensive elections, periods of underrepresentation and additional contests that are often unnecessary, experts say.

A system called instant runoff voting, which has been considered locally and is practiced in San Francisco, Oakland and Australia, could change that, they say.

The vacancy in the 43rd Assembly District will require a special primary election April 13 to fill the office, followed by a special runoff contest June 8 if no candidate receives more than 50% of votes in the first race. But voters will also cast ballots June 8 in a primary election for the same seat in advance of the regularly scheduled Nov. 2 race at the start of the upcoming two-year legislative term.

 Hundreds of residents have applied for a new commission that will be created this year to redraw California’s patchwork of gerrymandered legislative districts, according to state records.

A total of 227 registered voters in Glendale, Burbank, La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge have submitted applications for the state’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, according to the Bureau of State Audits.

Statewide, 30,720 voters applied to be on the 14-member commission, with 25,918 tentatively meeting eligibility requirements.

Notables Quotables

“What we’re saying to them is, ‘If you will put this on the ballot for us, we will supply the manpower and get the votes.’”

Edward Bash, chairman of Save Our Schools Glendale, a parent group that favors a parcel tax, and its goal to win support from the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education.

“I would challenge anyone to find the districts that aren’t doing this.”

— Supt. Michael Escalante on the Board of Education’s decision to eliminate 112 teaching positions.

“We will have more students with lower self-esteem as they experience fewer successes.”

— Twelve-year Glendale Unified teacher Marsha Sullivan on the Board of Education’s decision to increase elementary school class size up to about 30 students.

“If I could reach one person and let them know, ‘Hey, I have to look both ways and be vigilant,’ we would accomplish a lot.”

— Police Sgt. Dennis Smith on educating residents about pedestrian safety.

“It makes you feel good because I know that there are a lot of other frivolous things that you could spend your money on other than trying to give back to humanity. When you allow yourself to help in an unselfish way, it’s always a positive thing.”

— Motorcyclist E. Pierce on riding in Saturday’s Ride 4 Haiti event at Glendale Harley Davidson to raise money for reconstruction efforts in Haiti.

“If you look at the shape of districts right now, it kind of resembles modern art. We think that this would help improve the ability of communities to be better represented.”

Gautam Dutta, deputy director of political reform for the New America Foundation, on the creation of a commission to redraw California’s patchwork of legislative districts.

“I don’t care if you come in and don’t eat it. I care that you came in and you had renewed interest in the brand. That’s what new news does. It gives people a reason to visit.”

Julia Stewart, chairwoman of DineEquity, on IHOP and Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar’s new menu items advertised in ad campaigns.

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