CENTRAL GLENDALE — Mayor Ara Najarian didn’t parse words on Wednesday during his State of the City address.
In reflecting on his year at the helm of city government, Najarian touched on range of economic challenges that are battering City Hall.
“Dealing with the ongoing financial and economic crisis consumes almost every moment of our time in city leadership,” he said to city officials and community leaders gathered for a luncheon at the Hilton Glendale.
More than 500 city officials and civic leaders attended the annual luncheon, hosted by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, which also presented its community awards.
Faced with dwindling property and sales tax revenues and rising expenses, Najarian said the City Council has worked to protect residents from “a quick and sudden drop in city services” while also avoiding “hatchet-job cutbacks.”
He detailed the ongoing process of consolidating city departments and the gradual shrinking of the city workforce through a hard hiring freeze as ways City Hall was becoming leaner and more efficient.
“Make no mistake about it, folks, we are asking more from our employees,” he said.
He also acknowledged that a tough road lies ahead, which includes a slow economic recovery and a proposal from Gov. Jerry Brown to eliminate local redevelopment agencies, which Najarian called one of the worst decisions for local governments in decades.
“But all is not doom and gloom,” he said.
While much of his speech focused on challenges, Najarian also highlighted some bright spots, including solid city reserves, high property values and low crime rates.
Najarian also detailed the campaign to combat Glendale’s notorious record for vehicular and pedestrian safety.
“We have lost far too many of our residents to needless and senseless auto accidents,” he said. “Texting and talking on the phone while driving has reached epidemic proportions.”
In recent months, the Glendale Police Department has rolled out a safety campaign targeting distracted driving — including electronic message boards, displays of wrecked vehicles and targeted enforcement of distracted drivers.
Najarian, who also serves on the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors, used the speech as an opportunity to address two of his long-standing advocacy issues — opposition to a proposed underground tunnel extension of the Long Beach (710) Freeway and support for closing the Doran Street at-grade railroad crossing.
Chamber of Commerce award winners:
Woman of the Year: Yasmin Beers, assistant city manager of Glendale
Man of the Year: Johnny Harrison, Lexus of Glendale
CEO of the Year: Morre Dean, Glendale Adventist Medical Center
Business of the Year: Porto’s Bakery and Café
Corporate Partner of the Year: Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks
Organization of the Year: Glendale Arts
President’s Award: Scott Akerley, Glen Oaks Escrow
Inaugural Dennis Di Pietro Distinguished Service Award: Dennis Di Pietro