On May 23, 2013 the Glendale Star ran a Letter to the Editor by Ms. Barbara Garland.  First, a disclaimer: I have known Ms. Garland for over 20 years. She is not just a former constituent of mine. She is a friend. She is not a gad fly who writes Letters to the Editor about anything and everything. She has been a positive contributor to our community. Her service on nearly every city board and commission as well as Glendale Civic Pride and the fire department’s Crisis Response Unit has occurred over that 20 plus year span. Ms. Garland works to better Glendale.

That the Glendale Star ran her Letter to the Editor despite their obvious positive bias toward Councilmember Alvarez’ agenda is surprising.

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

Ms. Garland made some interesting observations in her Letter as she refers to Councilmember Alvarez’ latest district meeting which was “by invitation” only. In my 16 years as councilmember I never, ever, held a district meeting “by invitation.” All of my meetings were open to one and all. If Alvarez was limiting attendance because she was holding it in her home then she should have changed the location to accommodate any and all who wished to attend.  It becomes more troubling if she was limiting attendance to screen participants and thereby ensure that only those who supported her agenda attended. It also calls into question Alvarez’ call for transparency and open meetings. Where is her outreach to those who do not share or support her point of view?

Ms. Garland calls for Alvarez’ resignation because, among other things, she has said, “She is ashamed to be on city council.” Ms. Garland has a point. Alvarez’ performance as a councilmember receives a failing grade. Her lack of attendance has been an ongoing issue. It was abundantly obvious that when Ms. Alvarez conference called into council workshops and meetings there was someone in the background coaching her. Ms. Alvarez will often state during council meetings that she doesn’t understand and then proceed to offer her opinion.

What is perhaps even more disconcerting is that once council has voted on a policy issue that becomes the public position of the city and is to be supported by its elected officials. If an elected official continues to hold an opposing position on a council majority decided issue, there are guidelines to do so. Either she hasn’t bothered to familiarize herself with the guidelines or she is deliberately ignoring them. A perfect example was her recent opinion piece in the Glendale Star. It was submitted and signed as “Councilmember Alvarez.” It was in direct opposition to majority approved city council policy on the issue of the proposed casino yet not once, did she say that it was her personal opinion or that she was writing as a private individual and not speaking for, or on behalf of, the entire council. That phraseology is standard when a councilmember is expressing a personal position rather than a city position.

Merely disagreeing with a councilmember’s position on the issues is not sufficient cause for resignation but lack of effective representation and leadership is. Is it time for Councilmember Alvarez to resign as Ms. Garland suggests? Yes, it is.