Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Glendale Scandals: Reloaded

This is a reprint of a letter in the Glendale News-Press a few days ago:
Councilman Rafi Manoukian's nomination of Richard Espiritu to the Traffic and Parking Commission is perhaps the most illustrative example of the new and improved Manoukian.

In a 2008 Glendale News-Press article: “Court records show that Espiritu has been convicted twice for driving on a suspended license in Glendale and, in 2001, for the 'unauthorized entry of a dwelling' — a conviction that led to three years of probation and restitution fines.”

It went on to state, “Even in terms of his advocacy for disabled access, Espiritu appears to have misrepresented himself as a doctor at dozens of City Council meetings over the past two years.”

Manoukian's nomination of Vartan Gharpetian to the parks commission is interesting too. Parks commissioners represent the interests of Glendale residents with regard to recreational facilities and our open spaces. Yet, while serving as chairman of a Design Review Board — tasked with protecting residential and neighborhood integrity issues — Gharpetian did just the opposite, creating a private advocacy group about which then-fellow commissioner John Cianfrini stated in a 2007 Glendale News-Press article “the group was organized to counteract the influence of the city’s 19 homeowners associations.” The conflict of interest led to Gharpetian being unseated.

The new and improved Manoukian also nominated Aram Kazazian for Glendale Water & Power Commission, but in a 1997 News-Press article chronicling Kazazian's circumventing of city ordinances to build a 13,750-square-foot house, “El Tovar” — some 6,000 square feet in excess of the legal limit — the article states: “The City Council referred the mystery to a San Diego law firm, which detailed its investigation in a 36-page report delivered last week. The report assigns much of the blame for the situation to Kazazian, who allegedly used his position on two city building commissions to manipulate normal land-use procedures to his advantage.”

I could go on about Manoukian's nomination of Brian Ellis, a Bob Yousefian retread to the Design Review Board, or Razmik Grigorian to the Arts & Culture Commission, who previously pushed for the creation of a new arts department, or Greg Astorian to the Planning Commission who, as a prominent Realtor and consultant, would be the very perception of conflict of interest, but why continue?

The big question is will Council members Frank Quintero, Dave Weaver, Ara Najarian and Mayor Laura Friedman demonstrate any evidence of having spines and express objections to these nominations by voting “no”?

Mark Lassiter
Espiritu's nomination has since been withdrawn, but the other commissioners come up for confirmation at tonight's City Council meeting. Much of the previous drama referenced in the letter occurred well before I had moved to Glendale, but I've been catching up. Here are some links I found that will get you up to speed on the Kazazian/El Tovar mess. It makes for pretty juicy reading that is quite damning of both Kazazian and the city government at that time.

in Kazazian's defense:

Information on Vartan Gharpetian's tenure on the Design Review Board:
  • Design Review Member Unseated
    Gharpetian — whose term officially ended Oct. 23 — loses his seat after weeks of public criticism over a perceived conflict of interest for his simultaneous management of a private association that advocates on the behalf of property owners.
  • Design Board Member Draws Public Ire
    Gharpetian has been the target of critics at numerous recent City Council meetings who have said that, as a reviewer of commercial and single-family home design, his involvement in the Glendale Property Owners Assn. LLC — which asserts on its website that view and privacy protection ordinances may “further restrict and negatively affect” property rights — represents a conflict of interest.
Why revisit old, massively embarrassing civic misdeeds by nominating these guys to city commissions? Is this the best we can do? Glendale should accept nothing less than fresh faces and original scandals!

The Glendale City Council can be contacted here via e-mail, or you can always show up to a council meeting (they're every Tuesday) and speak in relation to a specific agenda item or during general oral communications.

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