I have been following news items and letters in the Glendale News-Press concerning the “new” Rafi Manoukian with great interest (“Attacks against Manoukian unwarranted,” May 11).
Funny, but the “new” Manoukian seems the same as the “old” Manoukian, whose term on the Glendale City Council was notable for excessive coziness between developers — at the expense of homeowners.
Some of the “new” Manoukian's appointees reek of conflicts of interest. I was offended by comments by Manoukian and his appointees to members of the City Council.
Vartan Gharpetian claimed that allegations against him are part of a giant conspiracy; Manoukian denounced questions posed to Gharpetian as “unnecessary and unethical.” Greg Astorian, another Manoukian appointee and a prominent real estate developer, said he couldn't believe how many questions he had to answer for a volunteer job.
Manoukian wrote a letter to the News-Press after he lost his seat on the council. In it, he expressed surprise that many people intensely dislike him. He must be the only person in Glendale who is surprised.
City expenses are still out of hand
For the past four years, the City Council and city manager have told the public everything would be all right as they approved budgets. Councilman Frank Quintero would say to all the naysayers that the sun would rise again tomorrow and not to worry.
The projected budget deficit is now about $18 million. The problem with the budget has been the expense side.
As in the past, the city manager and consultants suggested raising fees and other charges (“Consultants suggest fee hikes to close deficit,” May 10) to cover ballooning budget deficits.
“City watchdogs” would say the pension and benefits to the city employees were the problem, but this would fall on deaf ears. Sure, last year a couple of unions did not take any pay increases and they accepted contributing larger contributions to their pension and health-care programs. Some unions also accepted a two-tiered employment program for future employees.
But the 500-pound elephant remained in the room — the unfunded millions of dollars of pension obligations that will be coming due over the next couple of years were never addressed. All the previous councils did was kick the can down the road, and it seems that this council will do the same.
In order to make the City Council more responsive to the city stakeholders, gadflies pushed for public negotiations with the city unions. Recently, Councilman Rafi Manoukian led the dais for reform.
What was not mentioned at the May 10 council meeting was the influence of union campaign contributions to the City Council members.
Councilman Dave Weaver criticized the same “city gadflies” and told them that council members knew better about budgeting and running the city.
Nobody mentioned outsourcing of city jobs or possible bankruptcy as the final solution to our budget crisis.