Officials Re-Emphasize Caution as Virus Cases Rise

Heading into the weekend, Glendale neared 900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its residents as officials urged people to continue to practice social distancing and wear face coverings in public.
Parks and trails have reopened, and more businesses are allowed to resume operations under limitations, but the City Council also recently renewed its requirements that individuals wear face coverings when outside. Those shopping inside grocery stores and other essential businesses are required to keep their faces covered as well.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, there have been 886 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Glendale residents as of Friday, with 72 deaths. This gives the city a per capita ratio of more than 429 cases per 100,000 residents. More than 43,000 cases have been identified across L.A. County, with 2,049 recorded deaths.
In La Crescenta-Montrose, there have been 26 confirmed cases among residents and one death.
The county also lists skilled nursing facilities and other institutional residential facilities in its daily caseload updates, including cases that have occurred among employees, cases that have occurred among residents and deaths overall.
In Glendale, these include Autumn Hills Heath Care Center (24 employees, 56 residents, 11 deaths); Chandler Convalescent Hospital (eight employees, 26 residents, five deaths); Glendale Adventist Medical Center’s skilled nursing facility (one employee, one resident, no deaths); Glendale Healthcare Center (10 employees, 10 residents, three deaths); Glendale Post Acute Center (23 employees, 48 residents, nine deaths); Glenhaven Healthcare (15 employees, 19 residents, five deaths); Glenoaks Convalescent Hospital (eight employees, 24 residents, eight deaths); Griffith Park Health Care Center (one employee, two residents, no deaths); Leisure Glen Post Acute Care Center (31 employees, 65 residents, four deaths); Leisure Vale Retirement Home (no employees, three residents, no deaths); and Park Paseo Independent Living (no employees, four residents, one death).
In Montrose, 21 employees and 34 residents at the Montrose Healthcare Center have been confirmed to have had the disease, with 11 deaths; and 14 employees and 15 residents at the Verdugo Valley Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre also have been confirmed to have had it, with two deaths.

Council Affirms June as Official Pride Month

June is officially Pride Month for Glendale, and the city will formally promote the virtual event that takes the place of what would have been the city’s first pride festival.
The City Council officially made the proclamation this week after signaling its intent to do so earlier this month in time for the virtual event. Councilman Dan Brotman, who made the initial push for the proclamation, read the item aloud at Tuesday’s meeting. As part of the observance, City Hall will be lit in pride colors to show support to the city’s LGBTQIA-plus community.
“Though Glendale’s first-ever Pride Festival was forced to cancel due to COVID-19, we invite everyone to support the community by coming to see our light display in front of City Hall and by participating in their reimagined e-event, ‘Glendale Pride Because,’” Brotman said.
Participants in the virtual event are invited to use the hashtag #GlendalePrideBecause in their applicable Instagram posts on May 30-31, “whether it’s a performance, drag, music, comedy, spoken word or just a bit of shared thoughts,” according to the Glendale Pride organization. The group also is collecting content using Flipgrid, which can be accessed on its website at glendalepride.org.
The original event, which was to have been at Central Park on May 30, would have provided food, music and other entertainment for guests and would have included a kid-oriented space to complement the rest of the family-friendly celebration. City officials got the ball rolling under direction of then-Mayor Ara Najarian.
Other organizations involved in planning the event include GlendaleOUT, the Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society, Equality Armenia and Revry.
“We have a great group of friends and allies who are helping us out through all of this, including the entire Glendale City Council, and we’re very thankful for that,” Grey James, one of Glendale Pride’s organizers, told the council on Tuesday.
Council members voiced their support at this week’s meeting.
“I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to move forward with your huge festival,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said, “because I know it would have been great and a lot of fun and great education for our community, but we’ll do it for real next year.”
Councilman Ardy Kassakhian quoted Harvey Milk, the gay rights icon who was assassinated 11 months after his election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978: “It takes no compromise to give people rights and it takes no money to respect the individual.”
“Ultimately we need to strive for a society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of who they are and who they love,” Kassakhian added Tuesday. “I know that this is a modest gesture by the council, but I hope it will go some ways to assuring our citizens that every single one of them adds value to our city.”

City Plots Course to Help Residents, Businesses Recover

When the Glendale City Council starts to truly grind out its 2020-21 budget next month, it will draw out what could be a wide-reaching recovery program for residents and businesses whose livelihoods have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The body decided at its final budget study session on Tuesday morning to use $6.25 million as a starting point for renter and homeowner assistance and $3.65 million for commercial recovery when it meets on June 2 for formal budget talks. From there, the council will determine how much will be allocated where, and how the funds will be administered.
“That’ll be a longer discussion,” Councilman Ara Najarian said at the study session. “’Do we combine it all [into one program]? Do we split it all into categories?’ As long as we’ve got the chunk of money reserved for budget purposes this coming month, we can work on the details later.”
Philip Lanzafame, director of community development, outlined the proposed programs as part of the discussion of the upcoming fiscal year’s Measure S projects, so named for the voter-approved tax to fund essential services and quality of life improvements for residents. It is projected to generate around $20 million for the year.
The assistance programs outlined Tuesday actually were adaptations of proposals being developed before the pandemic put millions of Californians out of work and businesses scrambling for federal stimulus funding.
“Now, as we look at the COVID situation and people needing assistance, some of those programs fit nicely,” Lanzafame said. “We have them developed in concept pretty well. We need some continuing detail that we would have to put with it. What we’re looking for here is for two or three of these programs that you might be interested in pursuing. None of them have any staff attached to them, so we couldn’t do them all, but we may be able to pull some of these into existing program units and have that team administer both programs.”
Perhaps the most relevant of these programs was the Emergency Non-Recurring Rental Assistance Program, or ENRAP, that would bridge a to-be-determined amount of money to tenants who are experiencing sudden income disruption. A separate idea applies this concept specifically to student renters, and yet another one targets rental units that include several generations of a family under one roof who have limited income.
Also presented was additional programming that similarly targets homeowners with mortgages or rental property owners who need assistance with low- and high-level maintenance but can’t afford it because of income disruption.
Najarian wondered aloud whether the city should simply consider cutting checks to virtually the entire city, as with the stimulus checks doled out through one of the federal government’s relief packages.
“Just split up the money to every household throughout the city, give everyone an equal amount to be used for mortgage or rent. If we’re going to be fair about it, why don’t we just whack it up? Everyone’s paying into this fund. Just whack it up,” Najarian said. “I’m just putting it out there. I think my general outlook on this is that we have to be equitable to all levels of the community, not just renters, not just low-income renters, but owners of multifamily, owners of single family, renters of single family. I’m just trying to find some equity in our discussion.”
Najarian added he would strive to prevent local residents who are also landlords from “double-dipping,” as their tenants would ostensibly be redirecting their checks to rent payments.
Councilman Ardy Kassakhian said he envisioned having renters apply for relief and the city sending checks directly to those landlords and would prefer to target the most at-risk residents first, with Najarian countering that the administration required to vet need might be burdensome. Councilman Dan Brotman agreed with Kassakhian.
“I think we certainly want to be helping the people that have the greatest need and yes, the administration is difficult. It’s hard, but I think it’s necessary, so I would not be in favor at all of handing out money to people who are living in nice homes, like myself, who are employed and have nice resources,” Brotman said. “I could see us expanding some of these rental assistance programs. We could increase that [amount] and expand some of the eligibility guidelines, but I think if we do anything, it’s got to be directed to the low-income people who need it.”
Proposed economic recovery initiatives included a variety of programs offering direct fiscal relief and also a potential plan to establish large outdoor spaces to permit restaurants and other eateries to have “dine-in” customers in a manner that observes social distancing requirements.
“We know that the restaurant business model doesn’t work if you’re taking away half the tables, so we’re going to have to help them by providing public space to spread out,” Brotman said. “I think customers also would be a lot more comfortable eating outside and doing shopping outside. We know it’s not risk-free, but we do know the risk of infection outdoors is a lot lower than indoors.”
Kassakhian and Councilwoman Paula Devine both urged the city to work with all businesses in an area being considered for this type of space, should the city ultimately move forward with it.
“We have to have outreach and we have to have total agreement from those who will be impacted,” Devine said.
In setting a time to fully hammer out these programs, Kassakhian stressed the urgency of the current crisis as a factor in sorting out what money goes where.
“I liked your entire economic recovery package as it was, and I would fund it all,” he told Lanzafame. “Ultimately, this goes hand in hand with rental assistance and landlord assistance and the other programs. To me, these are the top priorities, at least for this year. Next year, whatever happens, we have an opportunity to come back and revisit [other initiatives], but for me, these are paramount.”

Board Discusses Schools’ Bleak Financial Forecast

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
A Glendale Unified School District maintenance worker places a congratulatory banner for the Class of 2020 on the GUSD Administrative Building, one of many remote acknowledgements thanks to the pandemic. The GUSD Board of Education this week had a sobering discussion on the fiscal fallout of the global crisis.

There is probably not a single meeting of a public agency in the nation that doesn’t include the inevitable grim financial forecast, and Tuesday’s Glendale Unified School District Board of Education session was no different, as historic budget shortfalls were discussed.
Continue reading “Board Discusses Schools’ Bleak Financial Forecast”

Glendale Woman Walking For Zoo Animals

Photo courtesy Dr. Monica Metzdorf
Glendale resident Dr. Monica Metzdorf, shown here at Aquarium of the Pacific, is walking from the Los Angeles Zoo to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to raise money to help feed zoo and aquarium animals during the pandemic.

Much like Forrest Gump was just compelled to run ceaselessly in his eponymous film, Dr. Monica Metzdorf said she simply decided a few weeks ago she would walk.
Now, the key difference between the fictitious Gump and the very real pediatric urologist is that Metzdorf started last Saturday at the Los Angeles Zoo and by tomorrow — or hopefully today — will have reached the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Glendale resident also has inspired folks from all over to donate money to her clear cause: feeding the animals at these local institutions.
Continue reading “Glendale Woman Walking For Zoo Animals”

Council Dictates 12-Month Rent Repayment Policy

The City Council voted narrowly Tuesday to extend the residential eviction moratorium to June 30, and established a baseline 12-month period requiring residential tenants to pay a quarter of their back rent every three months.
The extension, which evoked a largely divisive debate Tuesday, also allows tenants and landlords to strike an alternative agreement for rent repayment. Either way, the clock would start ticking on July 1, barring any further extension by the City Council.
Continue reading “Council Dictates 12-Month Rent Repayment Policy”

‘Slow Streets’ Modifications, Social Distancing Discussed By City Council

Councilmen Ara Najarian (left) and Dan Brotman debated the merits of “slow streets” enhancements on Tuesday night.

In the immediate future, the city will explore implementing what are called “slow streets” modifications in a variety of neighborhoods, which will be aimed at giving pedestrians and cyclists extra cushion as they cross into roadways to keep distance from those on sidewalks.
Longer term, officials will target other areas for demonstration projects, which would essentially be a temporary test run to see if it’s worth the fuller investment in installing pedestrian- and bike-friendly enhancements throughout the city. The City Council agreed to both items on Tuesday as part of a broader discussion on how to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for residents.
Continue reading “‘Slow Streets’ Modifications, Social Distancing Discussed By City Council”

City Council Projects Steep Revenue Loss on Pandemic Recession

Burbank City Councilmembers discuss a potential new coronavirus relief package with Congressman Adam Schiff, who briefly joined their virtual meeting Tuesday to answer questions about the $3 trillion bill.

The Burbank City Council approved a tentative budget this week that estimates a revenue loss of $15-$20 million during the next fiscal year of 2020-21 due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The council heard eight different budget presentations on Tuesday during a virtual meeting that lasted nearly six hours, creeping past midnight. Though city officials emphasized that the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial impact on Burbank remains uncertain, they expressed confidence that the city’s prudent fiscal policies over the past several years have put it in a good position to withstand economic challenges.
Continue reading “City Council Projects Steep Revenue Loss on Pandemic Recession”

Former Dodger Executive’s Journey From Pasadena to City of Hope

By Tim Madigan
Special to The Outlook

Fred Claire and former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda are pictured in a 1988 championship celebration on the cover of Tim Madigan’s upcoming book, “Extra Innings: Fred Claire’s Journey to City of Hope and Finding a Remarkable Team.”

I met Pasadena resident Fred Claire about this time last year on my first visit to City of Hope National Medical Center. Fred, his wife, Sheryl, and I talked for two hours that first day, sitting in the shade outside a research building on the sprawling campus. Fred never let on then that he was in terrible pain from an infection in his cancer-ravaged jaw. Instead, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers kept turning our conversation back to the men and women of City of Hope who were fighting to save his life.
“I want the world to know how I feel about these people,” he told me that day. “I couldn’t invent this. Nothing is contrived. Everything is real. This is the greatest team I’ve ever been involved with. I’ve known great players and great teams. I’ve never had the opportunity to be involved in anything like this.”
Continue reading “Former Dodger Executive’s Journey From Pasadena to City of Hope”

Heading Down the Home Stretch of the School Year

By Brian McDonald
PUSD superintendent

Brian McDonald

Gov. Newsom released the state’s revised May budget proposal for 2020-21 that seeks to avoid permanent cuts to public education while dealing with the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on the state’s economy. For PUSD this means that instead of facing a projected $35 million in reduction in state funding, we now estimate a $15 million reduction in state funding. We are examining in detail the revised budget and will continue to advocate on behalf of our students and educators in the coming weeks. Budgets are a reflection of values, and we are asking the state and federal governments to show their commitment to students and the future of this country.
Continue reading “Heading Down the Home Stretch of the School Year”

National Merit Scholarship Winners Recognized

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, or NMSC, last week announced this year’s National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners, which included a handful of Pasadena graduating seniors among its 2,500 total recipients.
Michael Deschenes and Katrina Manaloto, both Pasadena residents, earned scholarships this year. Deschenes, who will graduate from Polytechnic School in Pasadena, plans to study for a legal career, and Manaloto, who attended Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Cañada Flintridge, plans to study neuroscience. Additionally, Leah Soldner, a South Pasadena resident who will graduate from Westridge School in Pasadena, received a scholarship and plans to study aerospace engineering.
Continue reading “National Merit Scholarship Winners Recognized”

Burbank Council Seeks to Reduce Spending on Overtime

The Burbank City Council this week adopted a “needs-based” staffing policy that staff members said will reduce unnecessary overtime for municipal workers. Meanwhile, multiple residents questioned council members about the city’s finances.
Management Services Director Betsy McClinton said that the policy, which the council unanimously approved during its virtual meeting Tuesday, will give the city the flexibility to hire more or fewer staff members depending on need, or have more staff in communities that require it. The policy is also expected to help cut down on overtime.
It is unclear how much money would be saved by the new policy, according to McClinton, who added that the city spent nearly $7.2 million from the general fund on overtime in fiscal year 2018-19.
In accordance with California law, the city must meet with its labor groups before the new policy can be implemented, she said during the meeting. Her staff report to the council did not mention which employees might be affected by the policy.
Continue reading “Burbank Council Seeks to Reduce Spending on Overtime”

City OKs Aid for Small Businesses, Renters Hurt by Pandemic

The Burbank City Council approved more than $850,000 in relief money for small businesses and low-income renters impacted by the coronavirus, acknowledging that the funds alone would not be enough to help everyone in need.
The council unanimously authorized the spending during its virtual meeting Tuesday, allocating nearly $440,000 for rental assistance and more than $414,104 to provide forgivable loans for small businesses. The programs are largely funded by Burbank’s portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, with unused federal Community Development Block Grant and county Measure H funds also contributing to the initiatives.
The small business assistance program launched with the money will help “microenterprise” entities, such as gig workers, contractors and those who are self-employed, by providing a forgivable loan of up to $5,000. Businesses with between two and 50 employees can receive up to $10,000 in forgivable loans, though they must have at least one low-income employee to be eligible.
The program aims to assist between 30 and 60 businesses, according to Marcos Gonzalez, the city’s housing development manager. When originally proposed, the aid would also have been available to businesses that applied for federal Small Business Administration loans.
However, the council decided to amend the program so that it would cover what was not provided by those loans up to $5,000 or $10,000, as some business owners have reported receiving only a fraction of what they applied for.
Continue reading “City OKs Aid for Small Businesses, Renters Hurt by Pandemic”

BUSD: Deep Budget Cuts Call for Parent, Political Advocacy

Photo courtesy Ryan Hirsch

The Burbank Unified School District Board of Education issued a call for activism to its community members after revealing financial cuts totaling more than $13 million to local schools with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s current state budget proposal.
“We are going to be facing a substantial reduction and need to be realistic about that right now and make sure our parents and constituents understand that,” said board Vice President Steve Frintner.
During a special meeting on Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent Debbie Kutka and Director of Fiscal Services Alyssa Low presented to the board how the revisions to the state budget would essentially gut local districts, estimating a total $13.65 million in less LCFF funding for Burbank schools.
“As we start highlighting a menu of options for reductions, it is going to be shocking,” Superintendent Matt Hill said on Tuesday. “We’ve been looking through this. We’re talking about a lot of deep cuts that will completely transform this district in a negative way. That’s why we’re getting the information out there.
Continue reading “BUSD: Deep Budget Cuts Call for Parent, Political Advocacy”

Burbank, Burroughs Seniors in Unique Graduation Week

Photos by Erin Rodick / Burbank Leader

Two days ago, as high school seniors from Burbank and John Burroughs prepared for their virtual online graduation ceremonies, parents festooned the fences of the two schools with signs and decorated their cars with balloons, photos, flowers and streamers. They then chauffeured their member of the class of 2020 around the perimeter of their respective schools to the cheers of family, friends, staff and faculty members.
The events were both joyful, but it was not the way things were supposed to be.
Continue reading “Burbank, Burroughs Seniors in Unique Graduation Week”

Burbank Film Festival to Honor Works Made From Home

The Burbank International Film Festival has launched a “Films Made From Home” contest, which is running through June 30. The new category will focus on short content (maximum running time of five minutes) to challenge filmmakers from around the world to get inspired and create fresh, original content from the safety of their homes.
Projects can include any genre or medium including short films, music videos, public service announcements, commercials, etc. Other criteria includes that filmmakers follow current health and safety guidelines and restrictions when doing so.
The top semifinalists will be screened as part of the festival with the finalists and winners announced at the Closing Night Gala & Awards Show. The festival is currently scheduled to take place from Sept. 9-13.

Burbank Student Earns National Merit Scholarship

Anna Tong

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation last week announced this year’s National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners, who included a Burbank graduating senior among its 2,500 total recipients.
Anna Tong, who will graduate from Burbank High School, plans to study computer science with help from her scholarship, which is being funded by NMSC.
The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.
Continue reading “Burbank Student Earns National Merit Scholarship”