Burbank Election Issues & Candidates – 2011

Kudos to the League of Woman Voters for hosting an excellent Candidates Forum that actually dealt with many of the issues Burbank residents are concerned with. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, please try & catch a replay before casting your ballot in the upcoming Primary Election. I came away most impressed by Police Commission President Robert Frutos. Robert is a 17 year Burbank resident with an outstanding record of community service. He has 24 years of law enforcement experience at LAPD, which makes him the best candidate by far to deal with the BPD “mess” and the institution of real reforms, including an independent Inspector with wide-reaching oversight powers who would report directly to the City Council. He seems to have what I consider a “fiscally-conservative” approach to dealing with many of the financial issues we face; He spoke strongly against the controversial payment of over $1 million in bonuses to Burbank public employees, as well as the 7-11% pay increases handed out to Snr. BWP Executives (21% over 3 years for GM Ron Davis) just weeks after our Utility & Water Rates we’re increased, the latter by a whopping 13%. He spoke of transparency with respect to the release of information on public employee salaries & bonuses, which hopefully also applies to a recent Civil Service Board members request for a list of all employees who are related to each other during a discussion about nepotism. In short, Robert gets it; He understands the financial hardships many are facing paying their mortgages/rent & utility bills, and is especially sensitive to the needs of our Seniors. He’s also opposed to further cuts in City Services including Police, Fire and Park services. I like his humility and the fact that he shares the same Christian values we do; I’ve seen so much grandstanding, anger & hostility at recent Council meetings, and he would be refreshing change for the better, a voice of reason, a voice of the people. Consider this an endorsement!

As for the rest of the field; Emily Gabel-Luddy has 10 years of Planning Board experience and while she spoke of cutting $1.3 million from employee bonuses and giving that to families in need which I’d support, I don’t see how we can do that and be fiscally responsible when we have an $8 million deficit that needs to be addressed first. Jackie Waltman seemed much stronger in her opposition to the bonuses, BWP rate/pay increases + audits, giving Police Commission & City Boards more power, so while we’re normally reluctant to support someone we’ve never heard of before, she might be the 3rd vote needed to ensure reform.

Finally, I have to say I was very disappointed in incumbent Gary Bric’s responses; The fact that he’s endorsed by every major organized Labor Union including the vulnerable BPOA is a huge turn-off, as it appears to me he’s more beholden unto them than being my/our voice/representative. He was the only candidate who did not oppose the bonus payments and actually defended BWP GM Ron Davis’ 21% pay increase over the next 3 years. I also didn’t care for his comments about getting rid of the LAPD folks who’ve been brought in to help clean up the BPD “mess” and end the nepotism so that they could promote from within. The fact that he’d rather push another 5% across-the-board cut within all departments to address the Budget deficit (that’s 15% in cuts the last 3 years), instead of cutting the 1-1.3 million in bonuses paid to public employees (15% saving) is bewildering, as what he’s essentially advocating is a cut in City Services & Programs over the elimination of bonuses. No wonder our roads are in such bad condition! (esp. Delaware) I like Gary as a person, he’s a neighbor of mine & we supported him last time he ran but it’s time for change and in my mind Gary represents a continuation of the “status-quo” and the “good-old-boy” network within the BPD which lead to all the BPD lawsuits we’re dealing with & millions of dollars in taxpayers money being poured out with little oversight to defend them, not to mention a liability that could seriously jeopardize our City’s future. I do agree with Gary on one thing; the reconsideration of the sidewalks on Screenland Dr. adj. to Luther Middle School…the children’s safety must come first!

On the School Board side I like Greg Bragg, a Manager at Bexel Video who wants to utilize technology in the classroom more and explore corporate partnerships to supplement Education funding shortfalls. While I like most parents with children within the BUSD am fairly happy with the School Board (outside of the Jolly hiring), having a fresh face with new ideas can often prevent staleness that sets in when you have the exact same people sitting on a Board year after year. That said, if the BUSB plans on putting a Property Parcel Tax increase on the ballot in 2013 they better be able to provide a full accounting of where the last Bond measure’s money was spent and full details of where future money will go…hopefully in the classroom where it belongs!

–LINKS–

Burbank Leader Mailbag Letter – 1/30/2011

LWV Candidates Forum Video Replay

Bob Frutos for City Council Website

Jackie Waltman for City Council Website

Gregory Bragg for School Board Website

Burbank 2011 Election Voting Information

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