Week In Review

POLITICS

Democrat Mike Gatto will face Republican Sunder Ramani in a special June runoff election for the 43rd Assembly District after the two beat their competition Tuesday for the first in a series of elections for the same seat.

With all precincts reporting, Gatto was the top vote-getter, with 10,584 votes. Ramani earned 10,403. Each of the men took close to 32% of the total vote.

Gatto’s main Democratic rival, Glendale school board member Nayiri Nahabedian, took 22% of the vote, with 7,298. The other Democrat in the race, Armenian television host Chahe Keuroghelian, was last with 4,444, or 14%.

PUBLIC SAFETY

More than 100 people, from parents and educators to government officials and community leaders, attended a substance-abuse forum Tuesday, which featured a panel of experts to discuss substance-abuse issues and options for dealing with them.

A short video depicted blurred faces and distorted voices of local 15- to 19-year-olds who talked about drug and alcohol use in the community. One said students often went to school high and drunk.

The Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition organized the meeting in an effort to educate the public on the problem, tapping the expertise of an addiction specialist, psychotherapist, educator, physician, Los Angeles County Superior Court judge and youth development coordinator.

Police say they plan to pursue several fraud-related charges for a 38-year-old parolee who was arrested Saturday after officers allegedly found check-making supplies and equipment in his car.

Officers approached Joseph Jarmen on Saturday after seeing him working on a laptop while parked outside the Target on Colorado Street, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Jarmen was on parole for weapons violations and was believed to be armed and dangerous, Lorenz said.

CITY HALL

Councilman Dave Weaver was passed over for the third year in a row Tuesday as the City Council voted for two of the top leadership spots at City Hall.

The council voted 4 to 1 to elect Councilwoman Laura Friedman to head the Redevelopment Agency, and Councilman Frank Quintero was appointed as chairman of the Housing Authority.

The Redevelopment Agency, which oversees major land-use proposals in central and south Glendale, has in the past year focused on strategies to drive the local economy in the face of a protracted recession.

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to more strictly regulate where and how cellular antennas are built in residential neighborhoods, a response to homeowner concerns that the equipment is unsightly and pulls down property values.

The regulations take effect in 60 days and cap a yearlong process that started when north Glendale residents successfully organized against a proposed T-Mobile micro-cell site.

Antennas and cell towers will be vetted through a tiered system in which cellular equipment proposed for residential areas or in an unattractive form would face a more intense review process, including a requirement for telecommunications companies to prove why they’re needed.

EDUCATION

School officials have hired a polling firm to survey residents on a possible parcel tax, setting the stage for putting it on the ballot, perhaps as soon as this fall.

The firm, True North, would gauge support for a tax that would pay for specific educational programs and school district expenses. The analysis would also determine where the parcel tax funds should be spent. A political consulting group, TBWB Strategies, is working pro-bono to ensure the survey is comprehensive.

Parcel taxes — fees paid by all property owners, with certain exemptions for senior citizens — require a two-thirds majority.

About 16% of Crescenta Valley High School students have enrolled in a voluntary drug testing program, which could expand into other Glendale Unified School District campuses, officials said.

The program was announced in December as part of a communitywide push to keep drugs out of the La Crescenta school, and to facilitate conversations between families and their children. Of the 2,946 notices sent out, 1,444 were returned. Of those, 473 students chose to sign up for the testing program.

Drug and alcohol use has been a consistent community issue around Crescenta Valley High School. A flier went home to every family early this semester, which testing advocates said would spur conversations between families and their children, and between students and their friends.

Parents of Clark Magnet High School students may end up being charged for bus service as Glendale Unified officials consider ways to narrow a projected $18.5-million deficit in 2011-12.

Charging for bus service is one of a few cost-cutting actions the Board of Education can impose without negotiations.

Board members may have to generate revenue to maintain bus service if legislators cut education to close in on a roughly $20-billion state deficit, Vice President Greg Krikorian said. Almost 95% the district’s revenue comes from the state budget.

The district pays $870,000 to contract with a third party for busing, up from $750,000 last year. Sixteen buses transported 886 of Clark Magnet’s 1,122 students this year, district officials said.

Notable Quotables

“I am so sick of burying these kids.”

— Addiction specialist Cary Quashen at a substance abuse forum organized for the public by Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I expect this.”

Mike Gatto, an attorney and the top Democratic vote-getter in Tuesday’s special primary election to fill a vacant office in the 43rd Assembly District, which encompasses much of Glendale and Burbank.

“We feel good.”

— Republican Sunder Ramani, who came in second place during balloting Tuesday for the special primary election in the 43rd Assembly District, where Democrats far outnumber Republicans.

“It just seems whoever’s in, you want out.”

— Burbank resident Cynthia Tobin, who voted for a Republican on Tuesday because she thought the Democrat-controlled Legislature was doing a poor job of solving state problems.

“This ordinance and this whole process came about because basically one particular company acted less than respectfully to a neighborhood. And because of that, as a city, it’s our responsibility to step in and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

— Councilwoman Laura Friedman on the City Council decision to more strictly regulate where and how cellular antennas are built in residential neighborhoods.

“This whole area is really going to change dramatically.”

— Peter Zovak, Glendale’s deputy housing director, on the addition of two affordable housing developments at the city’s southernmost edge on San Fernando Road.

“This is my 14th year on the City Council. I’ve waited five years to be [chairman of] the Redevelopment Agency again. I think it’s only proper that positions be rotated occasionally so other members do have a chance. So I am throwing my hat in the ring again.”

— Councilman Dave Weaver before being passed over for the third consecutive year for one of the top leadership spots at City Hall.

“We have to look through every nook and cranny to get through the economic hurricane we’re in.”

Greg Krikorian, Glendale Unified School District Board of Education vice president, on potentially charging Clark Magnet High School families for bus service.

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