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Opinion

Letters: City leaders take some heat in this week’s Mailbag

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A man shops the sale at the Glendale Sears which is closing on March 15 after 85 years. A reader writes to urge the city to acquire the Central Avenue property to turn it into a park.
(Roger Wilson/Glendale News-Press)

Sears Glendale is closing! To those who have shopped there forever, it’s like losing another friend. But that’s not the purpose of this letter.

Instead of lamenting yet another store closing, I’m asking the city of Glendale to recognize an incredible opportunity, unprecedented in recent years, to find a way to acquire that property and create some “real” open space in downtown for everyone to use and enjoy. Reality check: the Americana at Brand is nice and generates revenue, but it’s not the kind of “real” open space this city desperately needs. Central Park, the only open space in downtown for many blocks around, soon will become a new museum.

City leadership has been talking for years about creating substantial open space, but other than for pocket parks, that space has been been unavailable. Now, here’s your chance to spend that additional sales tax money that we’re all paying for the common good, not bending to another developer with glitzy plans for more “luxury” townhouses or another hotel.

If there’s not enough money for this property, find it! Be creative, be smart. Do the right thing that will benefit this community for generations. It’s time, city leadership, don’t blow it!

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Vic Pallos
Glendale

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To save our jobs and our future, we must shop in physical, brick-and-mortar stores and become less addicted to online shopping. We can set the tone for the next decade now by caring about saving other people’s jobs.

There are rumors that within a handful of years we’ll have no more storefronts. We can avoid that by shopping smart and supporting places like the Glendale Galleria, Americana and local stores. We can always find jobs in those stores in times of need or working as temps during holiday seasons. These options won’t be available to us if we shop recklessly online.

Saving American jobs is within our reach, but there is work and effort involved: visiting the physical stores. When the economy crashes, do not complain when people lose their jobs or you find yourself in the poverty line, applying for food stamps, or unable to apply for a job at a department store as your plan B for income. Then you won’t have the money to buy anything, not even online.

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Online shopping is at your fingertips, but saving jobs and the future of American economic growth is within a walk or a drive.

Rachel Melikian
Glendale

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Would somebody please explain to me how the city of Glendale can afford to spend $500,000 on a temporary ice rink but can not afford money so that we can have a float in the Rose Parade?

Richard Jenkins
Glendale

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According to the News-Press article on the ice rink, we hit our target usage so taxpayers only took a $350,000 bath. Are we supposed to be happy about this?

City officials said the tax increase was urgently needed to pay for police and firemen and keep our city safe. An ice rink sure wasn’t on the urgent list.

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As I drive around pot holes and look at all the furniture left on streets and sidewalks, I wonder if the money could have been better spent. Maybe they could have hired a few more Neighborhood Service workers to clean up the relentless piles of discarded furniture. Maybe it could have improved schools, planted more trees, made a doggy park in South Glendale?

Call me a Grinch for complaining about an ice rink that brought smiles to a few people for a few weeks. I happen to think it is an enormous amount of money to waste. I also think anyone who voted for it should be voted out of office. As I understand, only one council member (Devine) had the sanity to vote against it. I don’t want to reelect anyone who is so cavalier with my hard-earned money.

Mary Baldwin
Glendale

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How angry and disappointed they must be. I am talking about the elderly and disabled residents of the three-story Honolulu Manor Senior Apartments.

First, owner Elias Shokrian allows one of the two elevators in the building to fail completely in 2018 and then when the second elevator fails and the tenants are stranded has the nerve to plead not guilty to the charge that he violated the city’s building code, which requires that all mechanical devices on a property be operational. What is vague about that?

Both elevators were to have been operational by October 2019. That did not happen and in November Shokrian was given and extension until mid-January 2020 to make the repairs.

That has not happened and Shokrian’s lawyer, Thomas Sands, has the nerve to say, “It’s not like we’re fixing a brake pad. These are major repairs.”

Of course they are major repairs. You call a licensed elevator maintenance company and you tell them to come and make the repairs and not leave the job until both elevators are working perfectly.

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In the meantime one judge on the case has moved on and the new judge has granted more extensions and all David Ligtenberg, deputy city attorney, can say is “Everyone’s patience is wearing thin.”

While all these delays are taking place Elias Shokrian continues to collect his rents and the only people whose patience is wearing thin are the residents of the Honolulu Manor Senior Apartments.

The city of Glendale and the court system have let them down completely.

Jim Kussman
Glendale

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I’m writing to express my disappointment in my Glendale City Council. On Tuesday night they voted to purchase five new fossil fuel buses that they expect to run for 18 years. At a time when we know what carbon dioxide is doing to our planet and the impact it’s having on us and the extent it will have in the coming decades, it is irresponsible to add new carbon dioxide generators to the city bus fleet.

I’m especially disappointed in Ara Najarian because he claimed that the compressed natural gas buses “are so clean that they have essentially no emissions,” which is completely untrue. They don’t emit much smog producing NOx but they emit tons of climate damaging CO2. As a member of the metro board, he should know better. Councilman Vrej Agajanian at least asked why we weren’t buying electric. The city staff responded that we don’t have the charging infrastructure and that the buses cost $1million each as opposed to $250,000. This is incorrect. Californian-made electric buses cost around $400,000. Yes, that’s more up front, but the overall operating costs of electric buses mean that they are cheaper over their lifetime.

As the entire state draws down on CO2 emissions in the coming years, this investment in dirty-energy buses is going to require the city to spend even more to offset the emissions from those buses. We need new council members who understand the science of climate change and can recognize when the city can make substantial reductions in its carbon footprint as a course of business. Please vote for new faces on the council. We are tired of business as usual at City Hall.

Burt Culver
Glendale

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I was recently shopping for a dress. I bought one, on sale, and noticed the sales tax was about $22 for a dress that was around $154. I wouldn’t mind if our taxes were being used for things that fit within the scope of the wording from the recent measure to raise our Glendale taxes, such as public safety, parks and recreation, libraries, affordable housing and improvements to our infrastructure.

However, to read that $500,000 of my tax money was used to fund a temporary skating rink that generated $150,000 in profits (a $350,000 loss) is unbelievable. I had to wonder about the member’s fiscal responsibility. Mayor Ara Najarian said “The City Council allocated $500,000 of our special Measure S funds [for] the enjoyment and improvement of the quality of life.”

There are many other ways to spend money that would contribute to “quality of life” that would be lasting, and not melt away after the holiday season is over.

I encourage everyone to vote for city council candidates who care about the environment and are fiscally responsible, such as Paula Devine, who is running for reelection and was the only council member who voted against the ice skating rink.

And I encourage everyone to vote for a new voice, Dan Brotman, co-founder of the Glendale Environmental Coalition and a professor of economics with over 23 years’ experience in economics and finance, demonstrating he will also provide a more thoughtful approach to overseeing our tax dollars.

Voting for who you want to “be your voice” will benefit you by giving you direct access to someone that can help catalyze a movement or initiate change.

It’s your city, your taxes and your vote. Make it count on March 3, 2020.

Roana Thornock
Glendale

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