Showing posts with label glendale municipal elections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label glendale municipal elections. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tropico Station's 2013 Glendale Municipal Election Endorsements

I went to two community forums, have personally spoken with most of the candidates, have been attacked at a city council meeting by one of them (!), and talked to dozens and dozens of Glendale residents about who they support and why. And of course, I've been watching the incumbents on the dais for years. The research phase is over.

Here are the conclusions I've come to and why. I've also linked to the Glendale News-Press endorsements so you can see what they have to say.

I endorse Laura FriedmanSam Engel and Ara Najarian for City Council. Particularly at the candidate forums, they were much, much better informed than the rest of the field; usually by a large margin. The incumbents have a huge advantage in that they have been dealing with these issues day in and day out for four years, but in my opinion none of the non-incumbents besides Engel (and occasionally Roland Kedikian*) showed they could handle the complexities of managing our fine city.

I disagree with what Ara Najarian says pretty frequently, but he usually votes the right way, and his position on the board of the MTA is good for Glendale. Even though I disagree with him sometimes I respect his capabilities.

In her four years on the council Laura Friedman has developed a strong record of bike and pedestrian advocacy, support for the arts, and, with Ara, helped balance the city’s budget by negotiating for city employees to pay more of their pension costs while reducing salaries and maintaining the high level of services we expect in Glendale.

Sam Engel recently retired from years of service to the city as Neighborhood Services Administrator, and at the candidate forums showed a detailed understanding of Glendale issues and neighborhoods. I believe his years of experience would be an asset on the council. He and Laura are also the only City Council candidates to be endorsed by the LA County Democratic party.

I'm voting Ardashes Kassakhian for City Clerk. Ardy has encouraged me many times over the years to post more items encouraging voter registration and participation at city meetings and events, and has taken many proactive measures to promote the city and make public information available online. I believe him to be an honest and competent City Clerk. 

I've paid less attention to this than the city council race, but after talking to many people who pay closer attention to the school board than I, I am comfortable voting for incumbents Joylene Wagner, Chris Walters, Greg Krikorian...and newcomer Dan Cabrera. Of course, you can only vote for three, but I've heard many good things about the incumbents and think Dan Cabrera is a great guy. So there you go.

YES on Measure A
"Shall the Charter be amended to convert the position of City Treasurer from elected to an appointed position; the appointment be made by the City Manager; be at-will; that the City Manager may assign certain duties to other deputies or the Director of Finance; that the minimum qualifications shall be in the Charter by reference to the Government Code; that the bond and oath of the City Clerk be filed with the City Attorney?"

For me, the best case for Measure A is this particular election: there's only one candidate for treasurer who is even willing to run! The person entrusted to manage the city's money should be the best person in a pool of qualified applicants, not literally the only person willing to run for office.

Cities with appointed treasurers also pay significantly less to borrow money. From the National Bureau of Economic Research:

Cities with elected treasurers also had more debt on average, were more likely to have directly elected mayors and clerks, and had lower per capita income and a less educated population – all of which could also influence borrowing costs. Controlling for those factors, cities with appointed treasurers paid 13 percent less to borrow than cities with elected treasurers. 
To get at the issue of causality, this study further refines the sample to examine the 31 cities that held a referendum during the period to replace an elected treasurer with an appointed one. Ten cities approved such a change. From that sample, he finds that cities spend 23 percent less to borrow money if they have an appointed treasurer.

Councilman Dave Weaver wrote a letter in favor of Measure A to the News-Press that I would recommend reading.

Official Measure A arguments (all links are PDFs):

Glendale News-Press endorsement:
  • No on Measure A (their original endorsement said that the council would appoint the treasurer, it has since been updated to reflect that the city manager would appoint the treasurer with the approval of the council)

YES on Measure B
"Shall the Charter be amended to update accounting provisions to eliminate obsolete funds and to reflect generally accepted accounting principles, to ensure proper accounting by establishing separate water and electric utility funds, and to clarify existing language regarding fund transfers?"

Measure B brings existing city budget and utility revenue accounting and transfer practices up to date with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. We should eliminate the contortions required to conform with accounting practices last defined in an era when it was still a great idea to put swastikas on lamp posts.

Official Measure B arguments (all links are PDFs):

Glendale News-Press endorsement:

NO on Measure C
"Shall the Charter be amended to reflect the correct title of the Director of Finance, remove obsolete language regarding petty cash handling, require that the budget be adopted by June 30, and eliminate inefficiencies in bond sales by allowing flexibility?"

I'm voting no on Measure C because it opens the door for conflicts of interest by Wall Street firms seeking influence in municipal elections. The SEC has called the municipal bond market "illiquid and opaque" and their investigations have found that bond firms made pay-to-play political contributions to get contracts, engaged in questionable sales practices and excessively marked up bond prices. Though Measure C may have some other benefits, those must be weighed against the risk of possible future malfeasance.

Official Measure C arguments (all links are PDFs):

Glendale News-Press endorsement:


Visit, the City of Glendale's official election portal. The Glendale News-Press has also been doing excellent election coverage, here are their endorsements. The "mailbag" section has also recently been full of arguments for and against just about everyone and everything, I'd recommend reading those letters as well to get a good range of opinions. You can watch the City Council and City Clerk candidates in action at the League of Women Voters candidate forum on Youtube.

*Though I am not endorsing him in this election, I want to give an honorable mention to Roland Kedikian. I believe that in this election, Sam, Ara and Laura are a better choice, but he impressed me at the forums with his reasoned thinking and dignified manner. I hope he stays involved with city politics.