COVID-19: Councilmember Ara Najarian Proposes Pseudo Health Department to Circumvent LA County Restrictions

Ara Najarian shows us exactly how much importance he places on the health and well-being of Glendale citizens. Najarian proposed the creation of a pseudo-health department which Glendale can lay claim to by “meeting the qualification and check the boxes.” His motivation was NOT FOR THE SAKE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, but rather to bypass LA County’s ordered restrictions in response to COVID-19; specifically, one on outdoor dining.

Najarian cited Pasadena’s health department as an example of a ‘loophole’ that would allow Glendale to circumvent restrictions imposed by the county. He gave instruction to our Interim City Manager, Roubik Golanian, to investigate how we can “economically and quickly” qualify a heath department. He called the Los Angeles County order “controversial,” suggested “outsourcing” department functions, and offered “local rule” as a means of not being “imposed of by the County.”

Pasadena Health Department FAQ:

  • They have a $15M budget. Most comes from their general fund, and some comes from the State of California.
  • They have nearly 100 employees.
  • The Department has existed since 1886 (not mere “decades” as Najarian suggested).

Najarian is proposing a department of public health for the benefit of business health, failing to recognize that a healthy business requires a healthy public.

We already have a “Community Development” Department, and an Economic Development Department to attend to the needs of businesses in Glendale. Do we really need a shell of a health department, a facade, and a scheme, to assist them as well?

For background, after I publicly criticized him on the Nextdoor website in April of 2020, Najarian impulsively introduced a mask ordinance at that day’s City Council meeting. It was only about 2 hours later, and he did it without extensive research or medical professional input. His feeble attempt resulted in a ‘toothless’ (read “useless”) ordinance which he had no intention of enforcing. “Short of issuing a citation” he proclaimed. And many in Glendale were quick to ignore it. It wasn’t until 4 MONTHS LATER that City Council corrected Najarian’s ill-advised plan, and ordered GPD to enforce it. GPD was slow to do so, but the results were positive when they finally did. Glendale saw a drop in increasing COVID-19 cases, and GPD made several arrests for greater crimes while enforcing face covering usage.

Najarian’s attempted mask ordinance in April, 2020 was also NOT about public health. It was to look good by grandstanding while appearing to be concerned. He functions well as a politician, not so much as a public servant.

As Mayor, Najarian failed the people of Glendale by not acting proactively to combat a pandemic that we had ample warning was coming our way. He did a few obligatory PSAs which he promptly abandoned as soon as his stint as Mayor was over (Mayor, Vrej Agajanian, does even less). Instead of focusing on the most vulnerable citizens in Glendale, he was finger-shaking and blaming the spread of COVID-19 in Glendale on Armenian culture closeness.

Now, he wants to set up a pseudo or mock public health department, for a motive other than public health. And he wants to do it with our tax dollars.

I wouldn’t trust this guy to put a Band-Aid on my kid’s elbow. Do we really want him in a position of making health decisions for over 200,000 Glendale citizens? This isn’t about the creation of a public health department. This is just a scheme to boost business.

Mayor, Vrej Agajanian was quick to agree, citing popular demand for outdoor dining via calls and texts. Regarding Pasadena’s health department, he had a string of barley coherent questions, most having to do with money.

Councilmember, Ardy Kassakhian, was quick to agree to the empowerment of the City regarding making our own health decisions. However, he balanced his concerns for businesses by steering the focus toward public health. He inquired how some “services” might be contracted out to Pasadena while creating our own department. And he suggested that doing so might represent a cost savings to Glendale. From the way he spoke of it, it appears that he envisions something more substantial than a mere business-boosting scheme. His follow up comments stressed words of caution noting that Glendale is experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases approaching 7,000.

Paula Devine did not show much (if any) support for this proposal. Instead of focusing on Pasadena’s circumvention of LA County restrictions, she noted the results of their leniency. They’re not very good. Pasadena ultimately had to apply greater restrictions on outdoor dining citing an influx of traffic from nearby communities. They also reportedly had increased lapses in face covering usage.

Tonight, the State of California will impose restrictions on LA County (including Glendale). Does Najarian have a scheme to thwart the State too?

Via Pasadena Now:

” A state-mandated “regional stay-at-home” order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Pasadena, which had continued to allow outdoor dining will have limitations of 20% on all retail establishments. Under the state order, restaurants will be required to return to take out and delivery services only.

All Pasadena outdoor dining, personal services businesses (including hair and nail salons) and all bars will be required to close down at 10 p.m. Sunday night, to allow for full closing and cleanup to occur before the 11:59 p.m. cutoff, according to Pasadena Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Paul Little. “

Let’s also not ignore Najarian’s intellectual dishonesty when it comes to relying on the authority of LA County. He gladly does it when it is convenient or suits his agenda. Conveniently, he, and Mayor Agajanian, relied heavily on LA County’s guidance for 9 months regarding COVID-19, having nothing otherwise innovative to offer. And on May 12, 2020 when Ara Najarian opposed Glendale’s “slow streets” program, he bowed to county health department’s authority. He called the pedestrian-friendly proposal “acting unlawfully.”

And Najarian asked:

“What right do we have to take actions that are in direct contradiction to the dictum of the LA County public health officer?”

Added bonus quote; about a month after implementing the mask ordinance without enforcement:

” It would not be in line with their [LA County] directives for the Coronavirus. So that’s one hurdle I don’t know how we’re gonna get, get over. We all know there are legions of our residents who refuse to wear face masks, face coverings. We’re just gonna bring them closer together. “

Author: GCGW admin

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