GCC Students Offer Their Solutions to City Council’s Woes

Arpee Markarian

Fifty-five GCC students filled the Glendale City Council chambers on Nov. 27. They had a message to impart to both the council members and the public.

As part of a first-time class project for Business Administration 152 (Management Communications-Oral), taught by Phillip Kazanjian, the students attended the meeting to highlight GCC resources that could help city employees improve their communication skills.

Sergio Amador, a GCC student and Glendale resident, addressed the city council on behalf of the students, highlighting courses offered at the college, including Human Relations in Business 110, among others.

“We, the students of Glendale Community College and members of this community, having for some time been aware due to the exposure in newsprint of strained relationships among city council members have arrived at this honorable chamber,” said Amador.

“We have decided to help the city council with this challenging situation. We want to remind this governing body that the many resources of GCC are available for the betterment of members of the community, public employees, elected officials, and appointees.”

Kazanjian, a 10-year Business Administration instructor at GCC, said the students were given a choice of going to the Glendale, Burbank or Pasadena city councils, school boards, or chambers of commerce to speak in public.

He said the students selected the city council because they thought “the council members were not getting along with each other.and needed help,” referring to an expletive-laden verbal exchange that took place between Councilman Bob Yousefian and City Manager Jim Starbird at the Sept. 25 city council meeting.

Expressing support for the students’ message was Herbert Milano, a speaker at the meeting who was not part of the class: “I think it’s outstanding because I think the issue we are facing is an issue of communications, effective communications.”

But others did not agree with the intentions of the students. Councilman John Drayman responded to Amador’s comments in an exclusive to El Vaquero: “His premise was that Glendale City Council members do not get along or communicate. This, to be blunt, is a false premise.”

“The members of the council not only get along, but vote unanimously, according to actual statistics, on 98 percent of all votes,” said Drayman.

“The issue facing the city council has zero to do with a lack of communication skills and everything to do with the censure of one member of council [Yousefian] who engaged in a physical altercation with the city manager (our most senior city employee, Starbird) and then proceeded to shout expletives in the council chamber during an open session of council,” he said.

“Since communication is neither the root of the problem, nor its solution, I will not be availing myself of the services offered-no matter how noble and well-intentioned,” said Drayman. “I would doubt many of my colleagues would either.”

Councilman Yousefian failed to respond to numerous requests for comment regarding this story.

Kazanjian said that since the city council meeting students have talked about also going to the GCC Board of Trustees meetings.

“What I hoped the students gained is an observation of how people in government work in business, and to have the experience of visiting a city council,” said Kazanjian.
“What I see happening in the future is this becoming institutionalized and every semester we will plan for this, and it may be expanded. I’m going to talk to the other faculty about this. I think other classes should do this to promote programs at the college.”

For information on classes referred to above, contact Kazanjian at [email protected] or call (818) 240-1000, ext. 5486.