Councilman Rafi Manoukian hopes to help quash Measure A

Councilman Rafi Manoukian hopes to help quash Measure A

Councilman is running for city treasurer, but ballot result will
affect job’s future

Glendale News-Press (Glendale, California)
February 28, 2013

By Brittany Levine, [email protected]

Rather than raising money for his own campaign for city treasurer,
Councilman Rafi Manoukian plans to set up a fundraising committee to
battle a ballot measure that could prevent him from taking the job.

While Manoukian is running unopposed for treasurer, Measure A, if
passed, would convert the elected position into an appointed one.

`The majority of my focus on the campaign will be against the
measure,’ Manoukian said in an interview, adding that he is in the
midst of planning fundraisers.

Meanwhile, the main backers of the measure – Councilman Dave Weaver
and City Treasurer Ron Borucki – said they are unaware of any person
or group planning to raise money in support of the measure.

Neither side has filed financial disclosure paperwork for a committee,
but Manoukian said he plans to do so by the next disclosure deadline,
March 21.

He filed a form promising to limit his fundraising for his personal
campaign to $1,000 last Thursday, the deadline for the first round of
financial disclosure forms.

Weaver, who pushed for the measure to get on the ballot, said he
doesn’t plan to start a fundraising committee in support of Measure A
and he is `just trying to spread the word.’

Supporters of the measure say it would take popularity out of the
equation for what they consider to be a highly technical position.

`The voting booth is not the place to determine the technical skill
set for a money specialist,’ wrote Borucki in his argument in favor of
Measure A, which will appear on the April ballot.

As part of the full-time job, the treasurer mostly invests Glendale’s
$372-million portfolio in bonds. The portfolio has struggled in recent
years due to low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve.

Manoukian, an accountant, was the top vote-getter in 2011 when he ran
for council. When Borucki beat him for the treasurer’s seat in 2009,
Manoukian wasn’t far behind after gaining 49% of the vote.

Opponents of Measure A say the top investor of public money should be
beholden to voters, not the city manager. `Why would the community
give up their right to vote after 100 years?’ Manoukian said.

Glendale voters have shot down a similar measure three times before,
the last time in 1979.

City Council candidates are split about the measure. Councilwoman
Laura Friedman, teacher Jefferson Black and Sam Engel, a former
neighborhood services administrator, support it. But the other nine
candidates disagree.

While Councilman Ara Najarian supports an elected treasurer, he has
said he wishes Manoukian wasn’t running unopposed. Three others had
pulled paperwork to run for the position but backed out.

Borucki, a former investment banker, and his predecessor, Betty Evans,
a former City Hall typist, were appointed to the position after
replacing treasurers midterm. They subsequently were elected to keep
their jobs.

While Manoukian has touted financial transparency and kept tabs on
city finances from the dais, he also has much to gain salary-wise from
a win.

In 2011, Borucki’s total wages were $129,690, not including benefits,
according to records from the state controller’s office. Council
members, who are considered part-time workers, now make $21,900 a year
including stipends for council and Housing Authority meetings as well
as a car allowance, according to city records.

Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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