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Op-Ed: Glendale's City Charter is clear

March 21, 2014|By Scott Ochoa

In his March 19 letter to the editor, “Government should also obey the law,” Harry Zavos, retired law professor and plaintiff against the city of Glendale, uses an old lawyer’s trick that if you have bad facts then try your case in the court of public opinion.

Mr. Zavos’ missive responds to a common-sense letter from community member, Mr. Fred Fox (“Funds help pay for the general welfare,” March 15). In his letter, Mr. Zavos outlines his argument that somehow the city operates outside the law in its long-standing transfer of operating revenues from GWP to Glendale’s General Fund. While Mr. Fox observes that this practice exists, and has existed for more than 60 years, in order to allow the city to pay for public services delivered by librarians, paramedics, police officers, engineers, and the like, Mr. Zavos unfolds his legal argument, which has been debated repeatedly — and refuted — publicly before the City Council.

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In short, the city does not violate its Charter in transferring operating revenues (the current method to calculate the transfer based on “operating revenues” is precisely what the Charter specifies and is identical to the methodology used when the Charter was amended by the voters in 1941 to authorize the practice); the city does not violate Proposition 218 (because the city has — for several years — discontinued the water transfer); the city does not violate Proposition 26 (because that ballot measure is not retroactive to previously authorized transfers so long as the transfer methodology was adopted prior to, and has not been altered since, the adoption of the ballot measure).

Ultimately the letters of Mr. Fox and Mr. Zavos represent two viewpoints for the future of Glendale — one based in reality and focused on the well-being of the community and an organization that delivers an exceptional level of service, and one based in a contrary theoretical plane that contemplates how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The city of Glendale is a successful, leading-edge community — safe, clean, diverse, and dynamic. What we have does not occur by accident; but — as we have seen in our national and statewide political dialogue — our success and momentum can quickly be undone by the doomsday politics of a handful of people.

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SCOTT OCHOA is the Glendale city manager. He can be reached at sochoa@glendaleca.gov.


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