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.

Friedman’s Bill to Help Foster Youth Access Housing Passes

This week, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1979 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) to increase the housing options available to foster youth enrolled in the Extended Foster Youth Program.
“California’s foster youth are particularly vulnerable during our housing crisis, and the economic fallout of COVID-19 has only exacerbated the challenges they face,” said Friedman said. “Since taking office in 2016, I’ve been working to break down the bureaucratic barriers in our foster care system to ensure that transition-age foster youth have safe, stable housing and the support that they need as they grow into adulthood.”
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, who coauthored the bill, said: “We have a clear moral obligation to ensure that our most vulnerable young people have access to housing and essential services, especially during a global pandemic.”
California was one of the first states to opt-in to the federal opportunity created by the Federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act by creating the Extended Foster Youth Program in 2010. The expansion of services has shown numerous benefits over the past decade — from improvements in education and employment, to reductions in pregnancy and incarceration.
However, reports have found that transition-age foster youth are still facing barriers when it comes to their housing. Over 35 percent of transition-age foster youth report being homeless while being actively enrolled in extended foster care.
AB 1979 strengthens the safety net for foster youth by requiring counties to take stock of their housing options, streamline the approval process for housing and supportive services, ensure that the immediate housing needs of at-risk youth are being met, and promoting overall housing stability to reduce their risk of falling into homelessness.
A broad range of local governments and advocacy organizations, as well as children’s law groups and juvenile court officials supports AB 1979.
“AB 1979 aligns our successful Extended Foster Care program with the realities of today’s complex housing market, where one in three former foster youth are at risk of housing insecurity due to high rent and lack of affordable housing options,” said Cathy Senderling-McDonald, Deputy Executive Director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California. “With Governor Newsom’s signature, youth aging out of foster care will have more options for housing in addition to the financial and social worker support they can already receive up to age 21, so they can make successful transitions into adulthood.”
The measure passed the California Legislature with unanimous, bipartisan support and now awaits a signature from Governor Newsom.

Businesses Hit by Pandemic Seek Landlord Concessions

Photo courtesy Rachele Rivera
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Rachele Rivera’s fitness studio Fitness is Art offered intense workout classes to clients. But after health orders required its closure, she found herself unable to make rent or strike a deal with her landlord.

A few months ago, Rachele Rivera was successfully running her business, a Burbank workout studio named Fitness is Art.
But then the pandemic hit, forcing gyms across the state to shutter. Now, Rivera is taking a cross-country road trip to Florida, where she plans to stay with family. As she drives through the United States with her two Pomeranians, the rent on her studio continues to pile up.
“The pandemic was stressful enough, obviously,” she said in a recent phone interview.
Rivera tried to persuade her landlord to decrease her rent when it appeared — briefly — that gyms could reopen in June. Many of her clients became unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she told him, and she wasn’t making enough money from online classes to pay him the full $3,800 a month she owed.

Continue reading “Businesses Hit by Pandemic Seek Landlord Concessions”

Schiff, Friedman Call for Postmaster General’s Resignation

Photo by Charles Hirsch / Glendale News-Press
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and Congressman Adam Schiff, whose districts include Glendale, spoke at the city’s post office on Tuesday to call for the resignation of the U.S. Postal Service’s postmaster general.

Congressman Adam Schiff and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman visited Burbank’s downtown post office on Tuesday in opposition to what they called attempts to “sabotage” the U.S. Postal Service.
Schiff, whose district includes Glendale, called on Postmaster Gen. Louis DeJoy to resign following widespread reports that collection boxes and sorting machines were being removed ahead of a presidential election that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may lean greatly on mail-in ballots.
“I don’t say this lightly,” Schiff said. “This looks like sabotage. This smells like sabotage. This is sabotage.”
Also on Tuesday, DeJoy released a statement saying that, “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail,” he would be suspending several initiatives, which he expressed had been implemented before he was suspending changes “that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic.”
In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly decried DeJoy’s response as insufficient, questioning whether the machines and mailboxes that have been removed would be replaced.
Schiff also voiced support for the Delivering for America Act, a proposed piece of legislation that would prohibit the Postal Service from making any changes to operations had on Jan. 1. A House vote on the bill is expected today.
Pictures of locked mailboxes in front of Burbank’s post office went viral on social media Monday, with responses ranging from dismissal to fears about voter suppression or cuts to the service.
Schiff did not address the posts in his speech Tuesday, but Evelina Ramirez, a district spokeswoman for USPS, explained in an email to The News-Press that the locks are used to deter mail theft and are removed at the start of the day. She also said that, even with the locks, there is a slot on the other side of the collection box where customers can deposit letters.

Friedman Vows to Seek Sound Wall Funding Options for LCF

Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK Members of the La Cañada Flintridge City Council and staff members listen to state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman speak at a special meeting.
Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
Members of the La Cañada Flintridge City Council and staff members listen to state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman speak at a special meeting.

State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman visited with city officials at a special meeting on Monday, pledging to seek different funding options for sound walls on the 210 Freeway, and also discussing potential state legislation that could affect La Cañada Flintridge.
Continue reading “Friedman Vows to Seek Sound Wall Funding Options for LCF”

City Council Watches Progress of Portantino Bills

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council seemed pleased to hear state Sen. Anthony Portantino, a local resident, was working on a couple of bills of interest to the community’s residents.
Portantino is behind Senate Bill 1317, which addresses sober living facilities, and SB 1266, which addresses those convicted of burglaries. Both bills are in the Senate Appropriations Committee at the moment.
Ann Wilson, division manager for the city of La Cañada Flintridge, presented updates on current legislative bills at the City Council meeting this week, by request of Mayor Terry Walker, to coincide with the council’s own update.
“I thought it would be nice for the public to hear what is going on in Sacramento,” Walker said. Continue reading “City Council Watches Progress of Portantino Bills”

Local Legislators Craft Controls on Sober Living Homes

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
California Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, who asks for communities to be “compassionate” when accepting sober living facilities, has introduced a bill that could bar them from clustering and creating “a hospital facility” in one neighborhood.

Neighbors living on or near the 900 block of Green Lane were shocked to learn last August that a house on the street was being used as a for-profit drug and alcohol treatment center. They were clued in only after a break-in at the then-unoccupied site was called in to the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Department and then reported in the newspaper.
They also were taken aback by the fact that the city of La Cañada Flintridge had no discretion over what was happening at the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom house beside enforcing zoning code requirements or responding to nuisance complaints if any arose. Continue reading “Local Legislators Craft Controls on Sober Living Homes”

LCF Town Hall Focuses on Small Businesses

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK La Cañada Flintridge restaurant owner Bent Hansen (speaking) was among the members of a five-person panel who took part in state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman’s town hall on Friday at Flintridge Prep.
Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
La Cañada Flintridge restaurant owner Bent Hansen (speaking) was among the members of a five-person panel who took part in state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman’s town hall on Friday at Flintridge Prep.

State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and a panel of experts spent last Friday evening at Flintridge Prep, batting around ideas about what measures might improve the landscape for small businesses in the state.
Those on stage might not have solved the most pressing issues during the 90-minute town hall, — titled “The State of Business in California” — but their conversation, before a crowd of more than 30 interested attendees, covered a lot of ground, from overregulation to the housing shortage. Continue reading “LCF Town Hall Focuses on Small Businesses”

LCF Centenarian Honored for a Life of Progress

Photos courtesy Lyn Slotky
Mary Naff prepares to cut her birthday cake, which lauds her as an “American Pioneer.” About 70 guests celebrated Naff’s 100 birthday at the Democratic Club’s Summer Picnic at Nalini and Bob Lasiewicz’s home in La Cañada Flintridge.

La Cañada Flintridge’s Mary Naff celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by more than 100 friends associated with the Cañada Crescenta Democratic Club that she helped found 12 years ago. The crowd included some noteworthy area politicians, including state Sen. Anthony Portantino and state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman.
“We do this every year, but it was only because of my 100th that I was anything, because I’m not an officer or anything,” Naff said. “We had a mixture of all ages and races and Anthony gave me a proclamation; it was a nice little presentation. He belongs to our club, and he’s particularly important right now.” Continue reading “LCF Centenarian Honored for a Life of Progress”