Councilman Rafi Manoukian hopes to help quash Measure A

Rather than raising money for his own campaign for city treasurer, Councilman Rafi Manoukian plans to set up a fundraising committee to battle a ballot measure that could prevent him from taking the job.

While Manoukian is running unopposed for treasurer, Measure A, if passed, would convert the elected position into an appointed one.

“The majority of my focus on the campaign will be against the measure,” Manoukian said in an interview, adding that he is in the midst of planning fundraisers.

Meanwhile, the main backers of the measure — Councilman Dave Weaver and City Treasurer Ron Borucki — said they are unaware of any person or group planning to raise money in support of the measure.

Neither side has filed financial disclosure paperwork for a committee, but Manoukian said he plans to do so by the next disclosure deadline, March 21.

He filed a form promising to limit his fundraising for his personal campaign to $1,000 last Thursday, the deadline for the first round of financial disclosure forms.

Weaver, who pushed for the measure to get on the ballot, said he doesn't plan to start a fundraising committee in support of Measure A and he is “just trying to spread the word.”

Supporters of the measure say it would take popularity out of the equation for what they consider to be a highly technical position.

“The voting booth is not the place to determine the technical skill set for a money specialist,” wrote Borucki in his argument in favor of Measure A, which will appear on the April ballot.

As part of the full-time job, the treasurer mostly invests Glendale's $372-million portfolio in bonds. The portfolio has struggled in recent years due to low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve.

Manoukian, an accountant, was the top vote-getter in 2011 when he ran for council. When Borucki beat him for the treasurer's seat in 2009, Manoukian wasn't far behind after gaining 49% of the vote.

Opponents of Measure A say the top investor of public money should be beholden to voters, not the city manager.

“Why would the community give up their right to vote after 100 years?” Manoukian said.

Glendale voters have shot down a similar measure three times before, the last time in 1979.

City Council candidates are split about the measure. Councilwoman Laura Friedman, teacher Jefferson Black and Sam Engel, a former neighborhood services administrator, support it. But the other nine candidates disagree.

While Councilman Ara Najarian supports an elected treasurer, he has said he wishes Manoukian wasn't running unopposed. Three others had pulled paperwork to run for the position but backed out.

Borucki, a former investment banker, and his predecessor, Betty Evans, a former City Hall typist, were appointed to the position after replacing treasurers midterm. They subsequently were elected to keep their jobs.

While Manoukian has touted financial transparency and kept tabs on city finances from the dais, he also has much to gain salary-wise from a win.

In 2011, Borucki's total wages were $129,690, not including benefits, according to records from the state controller's office. Council members, who are considered part-time workers, now make $21,900 a year including stipends for council and Housing Authority meetings as well as a car allowance, according to city records.


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