Week In Review

Glendale News Press

CITY HALL City officials on Tuesday settled on a five-year plan for spending a projected $30.2 million in federal funding for local social service programs, homeless services and affordable housing offerings.

The plan outlines allocations of the funds, the majority of which are aimed at helping the city's most vulnerable residents, including low-income families, youth, seniors and the homeless.

The funds would support employment services at the city's Verdugo Jobs Center, case management and housing through the city's main homeless service provider, PATH Achieve Glendale, and more affordable housing for low-income residents, according to the plan.

With projections for other funding sources taken into account — including $110 million in federal money for Section 8 rental assistance — the plan's five-year budget reaches $215 million.

Moises Carrillo, senior community development supervisor, said despite the high figure, it "still doesn't meet all of our needs for the city."

Half of the $2.7 million in Community Development Block Grant funding for nonprofit and city social service offerings will be allocated for youth programs, including tutoring and after-school programs and the Glendale Police Department's programs for at-risk youth, under the plan.

Meanwhile, the capital improvement funds, which at $10.8 million represents the majority of the city's block grant funding in the next five years, will be focused on upgrades at parks, libraries and recreational facilities.

Officials are moving forward with an environmental study on the potential expansion of the Scholl Canyon Landfill after putting the research on hold to evaluate other options.

The City Council last week allocated an additional $300,000 for the environmental impact report, bringing the city's tab in the joint venture with Los Angeles County to $1 million.

With the landfill projected to reach capacity in 2022, city officials say the study is essential in helping the city to extend the landfill's life and save Glendale from paying market rates for disposing municipal waste.

If the landfill is not expanded, the city could be forced to ship its trash by rail to facilities hundreds of miles away, which would nearly quadruple the cost of trash disposal and likely result in a dramatic spike in trash fees, according to a city report.

The landfill — located off the Ventura (134) Freeway — also serves as a valuable source of city revenue, bringing in millions in tipping and host fees each year.

The environmental studies will focus on two expansion options for the landfill that could extend its life by up to 15 years. City officials say an expansion would keep the landfill viable as they move forward with efforts to convert waste into energy at the landfill.

The City Council last month allocated $200,000 to fund research on emerging technologies that city officials say could help meet long-term waste-reduction goals while doubling as an energy source.

PUBLIC SAFETY San Luis Obispo County prosecutors may file charges against four men, including three Glendale residents, arrested last week on suspicion of using fraudulent credit cards to buy goods from several stores, officials said.

Glendale residents Hamlet Ramazyan, 23, Hakob Ghazarya, 26, and Hakob Vardanyan, 29, and Khachik Mkrtchyan, 26, of North Hollywood were arrested on suspicion of commercial burglary, possessing stolen property, theft of an access card or its data and use of fraudulent access information, according to the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

Police officials presented evidence Tuesday morning to prosecutors, who were reviewing possible charges against the men, according to the county district attorney's office.

While police seized numerous credit and identification cards allegedly belonging to other people, the men told detectives that their cards were legitimate, Police Capt. Chris Staley said.

The four were likely part of a fraud operation stealing account numbers and selling the information to others, Staley said.

The men likely used the account information to buy pricey items and sell them on the black market, he said.

Friends and family of a 36-year-old Glendale student who drowned Saturday in Lake Piru said he dreamed about becoming a licensed vocational nurse.

Los Angeles resident Roberto Barros Jr. was taking several courses at Allied Medical & Health Services Inc. in the 700 block of South Central Avenue to become a nurse.

Graduation was several months away for Barros and other nursing students, who, like every other year, took a break during the weekend from classes and headed to Lake Piru.

Barros and a group of more than 25 people gathered at the recreational area and went swimming, according to Ventura County Sheriff's deputies.

Barros and some friends decided to go for a swim about 2:45 p.m. Saturday, so they boarded a pontoon boat and sailed out on the lake, said Capt. Ross Bonfiglio, a Sheriff's Department spokesman.

Five minutes into the swim, strong wind gusts began blowing the boat away from the group, Bonfiglio said.

BUSINESS Subaru has reemerged on the Brand Boulevard of Cars after closing its dealership there nearly 20 years ago because of declining sales.

Subaru executives launched a soft opening of the dealership in November, but held a grand opening Wednesday at their new location at 1308 S. Brand Blvd.

As a result of declining sales, some dealerships, including the one in Glendale, closed their doors. The Japanese automaker also wasn't able to find a quality operator, prolonging the absence in Glendale, Crosson added.

Subaru executives began looking at locations in Glendale about six years ago, hoping to get a spot on Brand Boulevard.

Subaru executives eventually bought Sierra Automotive Sales and Leasing and renovated the building for a new dealership.

It could also generate more customers and foot traffic to the Brand Boulevard of Cars, said Philip Lanzafame, the city's development services director.

The auto row is a critical source of income for Glendale's General Fund, which pays for city services.

EDUCATION More than 50 Glendale Unified teachers and community members took part in a candlelight vigil outside school board President Greg Krikorian's home Wednesday evening to protest dozens of possible layoffs.

The demonstration was the latest salvo in a union campaign to pressure school board members to withdraw all 77 teacher pink slips before the final layoff process begins this summer.

It also brought the politics of the district's cost-cutting efforts to Krikorian's doorstep, a move that caused some dissension within the ranks of the Glendale Teachers Assn.

Despite misgivings from some of her colleagues, Tammy Tiber, a fourth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, said she felt the candlelight vigil was appropriate and warranted.

Krikorian was home during the vigil and said that was his family's way of condemning the tactics.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday, Krikorian said his children had been approached by teachers inappropriately.

Teachers met at Brand Park and walked to Krikorian's home where they stood along the sidewalk quietly, holding candles, for roughly 20 minutes. Prior to the protest, organizers distributed rules asking participants to behave professionally and avoid causing any disruptions in the residential neighborhood.

The Glendale Teachers Assn. has protested during and outside Board of Education meetings in recent months, but some teachers said a vigil might make more enemies than friends.

The vigil was the subject of numerous e-mails obtained by the News-Press, with teachers criticizing each other and their union for taking a labor dispute to a private residence with young children.

Union President Tami Carlson said those e-mails were an overreaction to a peaceful protest.

The uncertainty next year surrounding primary-grade class sizes, the fate of 77 teachers who might lose their jobs and the fiscal state of Glendale Unified have propelled parent Myra Goethals to become more active and outspoken.

Tuesday was the third time the mother of two kindergartners at Valley View Elementary School had seen the Board of Education in action, but she still hasn't seen results.

Board members continue to try to look for ways to save jobs, instructing staff to prepare scenarios by mid-June in which kindergarten and first-grade class sizes hover near 25 students to each teacher, and second- and third-grade classes are up to 30 students.

Driving the district's deficit is declining enrollment, coupled with cuts to state reimbursement and contractual pay raises and health benefits for employees, officials said.

District officials said they've been cutting for seven years, and might have avoided changes to the classroom if the state hadn't cut public education by $17 billion the last two years.

State education funding could be slashed another $2.4 billion this year.

When combing the January budget proposal and the May revision, district officials project losing $22.5 million during the next three years.

School districts must have balanced budgets for three consecutive years.

Six Valley View Elementary School teachers and staff members were honored Saturday by the Los Angeles County Office of Education for their classroom computer projects.

Hundreds of Los Angeles County teachers applied, but only 54 won Digital Voice Awards, certificates and plaques that celebrate the multimedia and technology-powered lesson plans.

First-grade teacher Lisa Jenks has won the last three years. In her class, students made a movie from a story they read. Using green screen technology and Apple computers in the technology lab, students starred as hermit-crab actors under the sea.

They made artwork based on the story, and their individual pieces, through the green screen, became backgrounds to the movie.

The awards are for teacher-produced work or student work that teachers submit.

Sixth-grade teacher Scott McCreary submitted Luba Djoneva's report on her native Bulgaria.

They designed an interactive website complete with Bulgarian currency, news clippings and the country's national anthem. Using the Internet phone service Skype, Luba recorded and published an interview with her grandmother living in the Eastern European nation.

Luba's project was a great example of how multimedia and the Web can enhance standard projects, said Shelley Owen, the computer lab assistant, who also won an award.

Third-grade teacher Karla Bringas won awards for an interactive website that takes students on a Native American cyber-field trip, and another for her student's podcast.

All students had to produce a report about an animal of their choice, but Bringas' student, Sarah Schultz, found the photos and sound effects that made her Arctic fox podcast unique among the submissions, Bringas said.

Despite her nine years working in Glendale Unified, and having recently completed her master's degree in education, Bringas is among the 77 pink slip recipients at risk of being laid off this summer because of budget woes.

Notable Quotables

"The one thing I know he taught me was to embrace life because it's too short." Zhanna Pogosyan of her boyfriend Justin Price, who was killed Saturday in an early-morning car accident on eastbound Ventura (134) Freeway.

"It has served the community well, but unfortunately it has its limits, and we are fast approaching those limits of the facility."

— Public Works Director Steve Zurn on the Scholl Canyon Landfill, which is projected to reach capacity in 2022.

"You can be more effective when there are multiple agencies working together. That's really kind of the bottom line." — Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird on the city joining the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, a regional planning group for tackling cross-jurisdictional issues and coordinating public infrastructure projects.

"He was so happy because this is the first time he would make something out of his life."Celeste Olavarria of her foster son, Roberto Barros Jr., who drowned Saturday in Lake Piru.

"I don't think they were real overly honest about most things." — San Luis Obispo Police Capt. Chris Staley of four men, including three Glendale residents, who were arrested in the northern city in connection with using fraudulent credit cards.

"It's a great stimulus for the entire city with jobs and sales tax. We are very thankful that they put their investment in Glendale." — Mayor Ara Najarian of the new Subaru dealership that opened on the Brand Boulevard of Cars.

"This is a precedent that should be stopped forever." — School board President Greg Krikorian on the candlelight vigil outside his home to protest 77 teacher potential layoffs and larger primary grade class sizes.

"[This] was blown out of proportion into something it was not intended to be." — Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson defending the vigil as a peaceful, silent protest to force the Board of Education to rescind all teacher layoff notices.

"I'm not sure why there aren't more parents standing up for their children." — Valley View Elementary School parent Myra Goethals on the meek turnout during the Board of Education budget study session.

"We know it's not an easy situation, and nobody is doing this by choice. We really are trying to provide as much support as we can."Kristine Siegal, the professional development for Glendale Unified, on two summer workshops intended to help primary grade teachers be better managers and organizers as they prepare for larger class sizes next year.

"Nighttime flights are not a silver bullet, but they can significantly improve our ability to effectively fight fires near urban areas." — Rep. Adam Schiff on the need to reconsider a federal ban on night water-dropping flights on forest fires.

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