News stories to keep tabs on in 2011

January 01, 2011|By Melanie Hicken,

A federal grand jury investigation into millions in fraud allegedly perpetuated by an affordable housing developer. A small hotel owner's battle against a real estate giant. A manslaughter arrest for alleged texting while driving.

While these stories all took hold in 2010, they are some in a variety of issues that are sure to roll over into the coming year's news cycle.

Here's a look at stories to watch for in 2011:

ADI AND THE 2011 ELECTION: City Hall has been on edge for months since news broke in that prominent Los Angeles affordable hosing developer Advanced Development & Investment Inc. had allegedly bilked Glendale and other cities out of millions.

Since then, subcontractors, some who have received subpoenas as part of a federal grand jury investigation, have said they were pressured to donate to elected officials in cities where ADI had projects. In Glendale, money from ADI subcontractors represented more than $100,000 raised by the top four candidates in 2009.


And Glendale City Councilman John Drayman has acknowledged that several subcontractors were involved in a remodel of his condo, although he says he was unaware of the ADI connection at the time.

In coming months, expect continued revelations of the extent of the alleged fraud as well continued efforts from the city to recover the allegedly misused tax dollars.

The campaign donation funneled by ADI will also likely play a large role in the April City Council election, in which Drayman and Councilman Dave Weaver are expected to run for reelection against a long list of challengers.

BUDGET WOES AND UNION NEGOTIATIONS: Glendale city officials are already bracing for a General Fund budget deficit of as much as $8 million for the next fiscal year as pension and health-care costs continue to rise amid stagnant city revenues.

The City Council is expected to begin budget meetings early this year as they are forced to fill a significant budget gap for the fourth year in a row.

The budget crunch will likely mean another year of tough and potentially contentious negotiations with the city's employee unions.

With the city's pension obligations continuing to skyrocket, expect pension benefits to play a big part in the negotiations as city officials continue to push for a two-tier retirement system from the police and general employee unions. Scaled-back benefits for new hires have already agreed to by Glendale firefighters, managers and executives.

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