Letter: Utility transfer has history on its side

There are points in Mr. Kedikian’s recent op-ed (“It takes engaged citizen to make a city”) that I agree with. Among them are that personal attacks do nothing to resolve the legal dispute over the GWP transfer. On the first point though, Mr. Kedikian should practice what he preaches. Labeling our city manager as having an elitist attitude toward those governed, and relegating his views as “dismissive cliches” is as offhandedly dismissive as the attitude he rails against.

On the second point, I have long believed and have stated in the public record that one must view the legitimacy of the GWP transfer in the context of the decisions that city councils made over the past several decades about how to pay for the public services our residents need. Forty years ago city councils had broad discretion to adopt revenue sources to fund public services. Past Glendale city councils like our current one were fiscally conservative, took their fiscal responsibilities very seriously, and chose to forego many forms of revenue utilized by many cities in California such as higher property taxes, business license taxes, benefit assessments, and the like because in their conservative fiscal view they were unnecessary given the unique fiscal benefit Glendale received by owning its own electric utility.

I believe the transfer is legally valid. It was approved by the voters twice, and past city councils relied on its availability to balance subsequent budgets, forever foregoing other sources for funding needed public services. I am hopeful that the courts will agree. Mr. Kedikian’s effort to ignore the historic context in which decisions about the city’s budget and the resulting reliance on the transfer for meeting the community’s needs is to unfairly ignore the multiple generations of wisdom, experience, integrity, accountability and public engagement involved at those times.

Jim Starbird

Editor's Note: The writer is the former Glendale city manager.

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