City Approves ‘Hero Pay’ For Local Grocery Workers

For the next four months, employees at the larger grocery and drug store outlets in Glendale will be paid an extra $5 per hour, under an urgency ordinance dictating “hero pay” to those workers.
The City Council approved the policy on Tuesday, after which it immediately went into effect. The discussion of the ordinance throughout March was borne of other cities throughout Southern California also implementing the hazard pay, which has politically been coined as “hero pay” because of the necessity of grocery stores and drug stores throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“They have been there since the very beginning of this pandemic,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said during last week’s initial debate, noting that grocery employees have had the highest uptick in workplace mortality. “That is extraordinary and scary. Imagine going to work and knowing that you could die. Very easily, you could become infected and be one of the workers that loses their life over this.”

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Stimulus Package Aids Airport as Traffic Still Low

Photo by Christian Leonard / Glendale News-Press
The number of passengers traveling through the Hollywood Burbank Airport fell from nearly 6 million in 2019 to about 2 million in 2020.

The recently passed stimulus package will likely present a boon for the Hollywood Burbank Airport, which has been facing steep revenue losses as passenger levels remain low.
In recent meetings, representatives of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority reported that the number of revenue passengers who traveled through the airport last year fell to about a third of the level in 2019. About 2 million passengers enplaned or deplaned at the Hollywood Burbank Airport in 2020, compared to nearly 6 million in 2019.
And in January 2021, officials told Airport Authority commissioners — who include City Council members Paula Devine, Ara Najarian and Vrej Agajanian — this week, the number of revenue passengers dropped by nearly 86% compared to January 2020.

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‘Slow Streets’ Program Options Discussed

Photo by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
Stocker Street west of Pacific Avenue was selected as a Slow Street last year by the city, where there was a sign placed reminding motorists that the residential neighborhood was often used by pedestrians and cyclists. The city is considering whether — and how — to make the program permanent.

The City Council plans to continue looking at options to potentially make permanent the Slow Streets program that it piloted last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The council had considered a number of options at its meeting Tuesday and ultimately sought more research on an additional batch of options that were brainstormed at the meeting. There was not a vote on Tuesday, but there likely will be eventually.
“People are, at this point, vested in the program,” Councilwoman Paula Devine said. “I’m for creating a permanent program.”

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‘Winegate’ Controversy Engrosses Council

More than two hours of discussing what one caller coined as “winegate” produced more headache than anything for the City Council this week.
Ultimately, four council members voted to formally codify a rule directly forbidding the consumption of alcohol during board, commission or council meetings. However, a separate motion to simply recognize the event in question — that a member of the Design Review Board was on two occasions seen sipping from a wine glass during a meeting — fizzled out on an unusual 2-1-2 vote.

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Conflict in Artsakh Spurs Growing Local Response

Hundreds marched through downtown Glendale last Saturday night, from the Armenian Consulate to Artsakh Avenue, in support of Armenians fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to repel Azerbaijani forces from the breakaway Artsakh republic

Artsakh Avenue was filled to the brim last Saturday night — a boisterous gathering that included countless flags waving about, repeated choruses of Armenian mantras and a man dragging around a Turkish flag tied to his ankle.
And yet when Vaché Thomassian — a well-known member of the many Armenian advocacy organizations in the Glendale area — roared into the microphone that night, his simultaneously angry and hopeful words hushed the rapt audience. Hundreds had marched from the Armenian Consulate to Artsakh Avenue in support of the Artsakh republic, which with assistance from Armenia has fought to repel an Azerbaijani military onslaught since Sept. 27.

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Though Airport’s Traffic Lags, Finances Relatively Steady

Photo by Christian Leonard / Glendale News-Press
The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority voted this week to purchase a new firefighting vehicle with federal grants. Hollywood Burbank Airport, which the authority oversees, continues to struggle with low passenger counts.

Hollywood Burbank Airport, like similar facilities across the nation that have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to see a drastic drop in passengers compared with last year’s traffic, airport officials said this week.
Staff from the airport told Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority commissioners on Monday that passenger numbers of about 110,500 for July 2020 — the most recent figures available — showed a 79.6% plummet from July 2019’s total of nearly 542,000.
About 1,875,000 fewer passengers have traveled through the airport from January to July this year compared with the same period last year, according to officials, a drop of more than 57%.

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Report Details City’s Prior Methodology of Prejudice

Image courtesy city of Glendale
This 1939 map indicates which neighborhoods in Glendale, among other areas, were subject to the “redlining” that was often used to keep minorities from property ownership.

Councilman Ara Najarian didn’t mince words when it came time for his input at this week’s City Council discussion on the local history of racism.
“Glendale was a cruel place, I have to tell you,” he said. “Looking back, there was incredible disrespect and abuse of certain citizens and people of color that, I’m afraid to say, continues to this day.”
The council had just been briefed on a compendium of research by city staff that took them as far back as 1920, when the U.S. Census reported that Black people represented a mere 0.16% of Glendale’s population — and virtually all were likely live-in domestic workers, the research indicated. Since then, the percentage of Black residents in the city has increased tenfold, rising to 1.6%, a stark contrast with the figure for all of Los Angeles County — 9%.
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Council to Consider Resolution Over City’s Past Racism

In what may be a significant step to promote healing from racist practices in the community’s past, the City Council plans to consider a resolution on Tuesday formally acknowledging and apologizing for what made Glendale a reputed “sundown town” decades ago.
The proposed resolution comes months after city officials faced a strong demand from residents to shine a light on those past practices, amid the broader national conversations about how racial discrimination has festered or persisted even after laws forbade its practice. The staff report on the resolution includes references to such phenomena as Black homebuyers being frozen out of various neighborhoods, the “sundown town” practice through which Black employees would face threats if they remained within city limits after work hours, and the general atmosphere of a city that was the home of some Ku Klux Klan leaders and an American Nazi Party branch.

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Glendale Arts Celebrates Successful Telethon for Alex Theatre’s 95th Birthday

Photo by Keira Wight / Glendale News-Press
Participants (in alphabetical order) include: Jazzy Birdsong, Alexis Colett, Ashley Crowe, Nina Crowe, Elissa Glickman, Zach Hazelwood, Melynda Homes, Androuhi Keshishyan, Nick Massey, Chad Mata, Bob O’Neill, Bri Pattillo, Rafa Posada, Maria Sahakian and Hilary Sbei.

The heat was on at the Alex Theatre on Saturday, when the venue’s nonprofit management company Glendale Arts surpassed its $95,000 fundraising goal in honor of its 95th birthday milestone, which was celebrated with a 12-hour program presented in a telethon format and livestreamed and telecast on multiple platforms.
At the close of the Alex95 event, $98,339 had been raised for the preservation of the city-owned Alex Theatre and the programs and services offered by Glendale Arts, with donations continuing to come in from supporters. The performing arts and entertainment center has reduced its staff since the mandated lockdown took effect in March, but it remains committed to its mission of bringing the community together through the arts and entertainment while continuing to maintain the historic building.
Alex95 hosts journalist Palmira Perez-Najarian, former NBC4 weathercaster Fritz Coleman, and comedians Alonzo Bodden, Mary Basmadjian, Matt Kirshen and Michael Rayner entertained viewers throughout the program, sharing the wonder and promise of the Theatre with their own special connections and memories.
Program highlights included a guided tour of the Alex, video greetings from performers and artists, and familiar faces from the community, including honorary committee members and area elected officials, including Congressman Adam Schiff, state Sen. Anthony Portantino, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, Glendale Mayor Vrej Agajanian and City Council members Ara Najarian, Paula Devine, Ardy Kassakhian and Daniel Brotman.
“We’re thrilled with the outpouring of support for Alex95, which reaffirms the community’s love for its iconic cultural and architectural landmark,” said Glendale Arts Managing Director Nina Crowe.