Controversies and concerns don’t overwhelm Tornek’s sense of the City’s uniqueness and strengths
Published : Wednesday, January 3, 2018 | 6:39 AM
Following 2017 which saw local controversies involving the police, homelessness and housing along with illegal marijuana dispensaries, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek seems upbeat about the city’s future and potential.
“I feel a lot of optimism on the part of the people in the city, but we have these recurring problems that are going to be with us, current problems like homelessness and rising housing prices, and affordable housing, and these are issues that most are grappling with,” Tornek said. ” We’ll just try to deal with them in our own in our particularly Pasadena way.”
Tornek, who spent New Year’s Day morning riding in the Rose Parade and then the afternoon (and evening) watching the dramatic Georgia-Oklahoma Rose Bowl game, also took a step back and offered, “Of course we have continued discussions about the police department and use of force and that kind of issue, and we have continued discussions about minimum wage because it keeps ticking up, and some of the businesses continue to be concerned about that.”
At the same time, said Tornek, “We have new development in town that has been very encouraging, new entries like the breaking ground on the Kaiser Permanente Medical School and we have the continued growth of the entertainment and hospitality industry, with new restaurants opening all over town and few closing, but mostly new ones opening.”
“I think the city for the most part continues to move along in a positive way,” Tornek summarized.
As always, the budget is on Tornek’s mind each year.
“To me, the budget is the number one issue because everything else plays off of that. Our ability to deliver services and our ability to do what folks would like us to do all comes from what our financial position is, and as I have said, maybe too often, that unlike the federal government, we don’t get to print money.”
As Tornek explained, “The President and the Congress decide to give a huge change in the taxes, they do it on the basis of creating a trillion and a half dollars worth of new debt over a 10-year-period, but cities don’t get to do that. We don’t get to borrow money that way. We have to do it on a pay-as-you-go basis.
The Mayor said he believes that Pasadena will end the 2018-2019 fiscal year with “a balanced budget, but the preliminary forecast has us in the red.”
“So, he continued, “we’ve been working quietly in City Hall in terms of preparing the initial budgetary planning for next year, to figure out a way to not to be in the red, because I’m not going to be willing to put us in the deficit position. I’m only one vote on the city council, my colleagues on the council will make the decision about what they are prepared to do, but I’m not prepared to be in the red, so it’s my job as the Mayor in the ‘State of the City’ address is to lay out what we are going to do about it, or what I believe we should be doing about it. That’s what I intend to do.”
Tornek was unwilling to offer any further previews about his upcoming annual State of the City address, which he will give on Tuesday, January 16 at Marshall Fundamental School.
Then, taking a aerial view of the relationship between the City’s scope of activities on all fronts with being a resident and representative of the city, Mayor Tornek said, “I’ve been to a lot of activities, a lot of events and fundraisers and the message that I keep getting from people that live in the city is how grateful they are to live in Pasadena.”
Tornek continued, “It’s interesting when I get to talk to these people who are not Pasadena people who come in for these events, they are so enthralled with Pasadena.”
“Each of them has a little bit of reaction depending on what they’ve been exposed to specifically during their visit,” the Mayor expanded, “but they all comment on what a remarkable place this is and how lucky we are to live here. Some of us forget sometimes how lucky we are to live here, but most people don’t. Most people are grateful and appreciate what we have. They want to make sure that we don’t blow it.”
The Mayor will preside over the first City Council meeting of 2018 on Monday, January 8 at City Hall at 6:30 p.m.