Posts Tagged ‘2011’

Burbank’s 100th Birthday Photos

July 10, 2011

FaceBook PHOTO Album link | PhotoBucket PHOTO Album

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Family Promise ESFV Empty Bowl Event Photos

June 7, 2011

FaceBook PHOTO Album | PhotoBucket PHOTO Album

2011 Budget & Fee increases – Comments/Update

June 7, 2011

** UPDATE 6/8/11. Budget Public Hearing / Council Meeting Review **

BWP Rate Hikes approved (4-1)…without them they’d be insolvent according to BWP GM Ron Davis & Bonnie Teaford. At least they voted 4-0 not to Appeal the Burbank Leader’s Bonus Lawsuit victory, so we should be getting some numbers soon. They also voted 3-1 (Golonski – NO) to “suspend” their Merit-Pay program but it’s not dead and could be brought back. Also their salary freeze is actually a salary-range freeze; employees can still get pay raises if they’re not at the top of their range. Funniest LOL moment was when Dr. Gordon asked CM Mike Flad repeatedly how much we’d payed out in those pay raises to BWP GM & a few of his Sr. Mgm’t and Flad couldn’t/wouldn’t answer him…”don’t have the figure off-hand…we’ll get that to you” etc. It know it’s about $100k from last years Staff Report and that doesn’t include their Bonuses (they can get up-to 10% of their salary).

Lot’s of discussion on the $Million Dollar DeBell Golf Course bailout. So there’s no indication of trouble, then they come before the Park & Rec. Board in May with an urgent need but refuse to provide them with copies of contracts or financials so they can determine how this happened and now want a bailout? Last night Dr. Gordon asks for an independent audit but Emily Gabel-Luddy says we don’t need that (too expensive). So he asks for Financials with itemized expenses and Dave Golonski says he’s seen the numbers, they’re on a bunch of different papers that no other Council member has seen, and proposes a $1 Million Loan instead of the requested $2 Million (wise decision IMO) with monthly oversight via a Sub-Committee made up of 2 Council & 2 Park & Rec Board members. This was after he blamed the Park & Rec. Board for not rasing a red flag, which drew this immediate response from former Board Chair Steven Ferguson.

The $1 Million Loan appears to have been approved with no Profit/Loss Statement based on projections in a Power-Point Presentation. Another $1 Million is also being set aside and loan repayments on their existing $2.1 Million Dollar Loan will be deferred. Daste blames their current $718k deficit on the loss of earned interest (very foreseeable), Capital depreciation (refuted by City’s Finance Director as it’s not part of their Cash Flow problem), BWP Water Rate hikes (refuted earlier by Ron Davis) and the Tiger Woods sex-scandal for the downturn. And yes the bad Economy which has lead to a dramatic drop in the number of rounds of golf played (we get that). He can’t answer a question without consulting his Staff, tried to throw Jan Bartollo who apparently manages the Funds under the bus, before finally manning-up and admitting he screwed up (thank you Chris!). A nervous looking Scott Scozzola (DeBell Dir. of Golf) is there but isn’t asked a single question by any Council member. They decide to raise fees 8% (but they’re still very competitive compared to other local courses according to avid golfer Gary Bric), and say they’re going to cut Scozzola’s contract, the Concessionary & Course Maintenance by 10% and get RFP bids when their contracts expire. If you get the chance, watch the replay on Granicus…it’s a classic! And to think this Mr. Daste apparently gets an automatic $1,000/month bonus per his contract for just doing his job “satisfactorily” (thanks Mike Flad). Poor management, lack of oversight, no transparency re Financials, lots of excuses & blame-shifting…very embarrassing stuff guys. Of course this all happened around Midnight so no-one could see it unfold. As we own the Golf Course I agree we need to save this valuable asset, but we should not reward incompetency. Someone (or perhaps 2) should be fired! And has it ever occurred to anyone that lowering fees could actually increase revenue as it would encourage more people to play more often during these tough economic times? I can tell you we go less to the Starlight Bowl since they increased the admission and changed out their Concessionary from Handy Market to the more expensive BJ’s. How about some thinking outside of the box.

Finally Re the Outscourcing our Crossing Guards; We should rescind the above referenced BWP Pay raises and use that money for our Crossing Guards healthcare & pension benefits. It’s always the little guys who get screwed while Sr. Mgm’t rake in the big bucks & bonuses. And let’s get rid of that silly $5 Cat License…what’s next a Gold Fish Tax?

My Letter to the Burbank City Council

Dear Burbank City Council members & Staff,

Below are my comments re the 2011/12 Budget & proposed Fee increases:

1. I strongly OPPOSE the proposed Rate increases for Water, Sewer & Refuse Services. Last year the Council majority approved a 13.5% Water Rate hike, almost double what Los Angeles County & Glendale passed onto their customers, and then weeks later approved a 21% pay increase for BWP GM Ron Davis (7% per year for 3 years) and 7-11% increases for other Sr. BWP Management, at the cost of approx. $100,000 per year to Burbank residents. These rate increases have caused financial hardships for many as you know. In fact, I recently learned our public golf course now needs a $2 Million bailout in part because of these water rate increases. We simply cannot afford to pay these escalating rates. Instead of raising rates I propose 1-5% pay cuts for all Sr. BWP Management or other reductions in operating costs that would eliminate the need for these rate increases. I’m also baffled by the massive 8% increase in Refuse services; We seem to pay considerably more than other cities for these services and I do not accept the excuses given by Staff in a recent Burbank Leader story (gas prices) when all our Refuse Collection Vehicles are CNG powered. BWP needs to cut costs period and the outrageous pay raises handed out last year need to be rescinded. If possible, perhaps we could offset these rate increases using funds from the $6 Million BWP Loan repayment received recently.

2. I SUPPORT the termination of the City’s Merit Pay program. As I’ve weighed in on this issue before I’m not going to repeat myself…just end it now! I OPPOSE the expenditure of any more taxpayers money on a frivolous appeal with respect to the related Burbank Leader “Public Records” lawsuit and that ask that you comply with the Judge’s order immediately.

3. I OPPOSE cuts in City Services (esp. Library, Park & Rec.) including those to various Youth & Senior programs that have come before you over the past few months (Got Wheels etc.), as well as the wonderful Community organizations (Rose Parade, Food Baskets etc.) who do great work in our City above the 5% threshold Management set for all City Departments. Instead I propose scaled pay cuts of 1-5% for all Burbank Public Employee’s making over $100,000/year to help continue these valuable programs & services. Perhaps one-time funds from the $11 Million Redevelopment Agency Loan repayment could also be used to sustain these critical services.

4. I OPPOSE what appears to be a blank check given to the City Attorney’s Office with respect to ongoing Burbank Police Dept. & other Labor related Litigation. Millions of taxpayers dollars have been spent without a full accounting, money that could have gone towards funding the abovementioned services/programs. Moreover, it appears we’re in a worse position now than 12 months ago, with 16 cases of “anticipated litigation” pending. Despite this most of the people overseeing this “mess” still remain employed. It’s time to treat the root cause and end the expenditures of millions to fix our mistakes. These matters should never have escalated to this point!

5. I SUPPORT negotiations that would require all City Labor groups and their members to pay their share of PERS. We cannot continue to kick the can down the road and ignore the largest single contributing factor to our ongoing budget deficits. You cannot continue to ask City Departments to cut 5% of their Budgets every year; They’ve largely trimmed the fat and they’re at the bone already…There’s nothing left to cut except wages & benefits. They either pay their share or you start cutting salaries, instituting furloughs and laying off workers. These are tough decisions but necessary. I pray you have the courage to do what’s needed in making fiscal responsible decisions in the long term best interests of the people of Burbank (not the Unions).

– LINKS –

Steven Ferguson email to Dave Golonski

Burbank Leader – City Approves $2M Loan | Editorial

Burbank Leader – City Outsources Crossing Guards

Causes: Family Promise ESFV Empty Bowl

May 27, 2011

Here’s a PSA I did for the upcoming Family Promise of ESFV Empty Bowl. Please consider supporting their good work by attending this great event on June 5th @ the St Finbar’s Community Center. More info here:http://www.familypromiseesfv.org/events/empty_bowl.html

Burbank loses Lawsuit – Must Disclose Bonuses

May 20, 2011

As predicted in my Open Letter to the Burbank City Council here, the Burbank Leader has prevailed in its Lawsuit against the City of Burbank. According to this report, L.A. Superior Court Judge Ann I Jones has ordered the City to release Bonus amounts paid to individual City employees, citing legal precedence in a 2007 California Supreme Court decision that shows the taxpaying public’s right to know trumps workplace privacy concerns. The City will also have to pay The Burbank Leader’s legal costs, currently $37,000 and rising. Given the City’s stubborn refusal to comply with the Law in this matter, I think the Council majority who authorized & approved the City’s futile “defense” should pay those costs out of their own pockets. They should also fire Juli Scott, whose  comments & conduct in refusing to comply with this FOIA request (and numerous others over the years) have been embarassing. A victory for open transparent Government!

–Links–

Burbank Leader Story (Gretchen Meier) | Editorial 5/20 | Legal Costs 5/24

Burbank Press Release – City Manager proposes suspension of Merit Pay

My Open Letter to the Council & Document/Article links

Burbank Recount – Denied, 2nd Request pulled

April 29, 2011

Burbank City Clerk Margarita Campos explains her decision to deny a substitute request for hand Recount of the General Election made by Burbank voters Fronnie Lewis and Kevin & Linda Muldoon. Fronnie Lewis has an excellent recap here.

BREAKING NEWS: It appears Kevin & Linda Muldoon, Fronnie Lewis and Judy Alter from Protect California Ballots have filed a 2nd Protest & Recount Request contenting the “completion of the canvass” occurred when the City Council declared the results Tuesday, thus triggering the 5 day “protest” period. Looks like a “Hail Mary” (pass) but here’s the Recount Letter (2): + Recount Request Letter (attachment) 

UPDATE: 5/5/11 According to Fronnie Lewis, the 2nd Recount Request has been duly withdrawn. Read all the details here.

-LINKS-

Recount Rejection Letter to Fronnie Lewis

CA Elections Code Sect. 15620-15634

Burbank Election Results & Recount + Bonuses

April 25, 2011

Emily Gabel-Luddy – 4,411 Votes (49.7%) [+11 Votes]

Bob Frutos – 4,316  Votes (48.7%) [+2 Votes]

Ballots Cast – 8,866 (15.7% of 56, 239 Registered Voters) [+13 Votes]

Measure U – PASSED with 5,720 YES votes vs. 2,562  NO’s  [+456/+7]

Note: [+] = Differential between Preliminary & Final Results

* notice the interesting +456 Vote increase in Measure U?

Link: Election Night Photos

BREAKING NEWS 4/21/11: RECOUNT Official or is it? (Updated 4/26/11)

It appears Burbank’s elected City Clerk Margarita Campos plan is to simply ignore residents Protest and demand for a Recount. Fronnie Lewis has posted 4 excellent Election Recount stories over at MediaCityGroove.com yet not a word about it in our local “newspaper” The Burbank (mis-)Leader. Last week a Hand Recount was initiated by the election watchdog group Protect California Ballots and Burbank resident George Marciniw, who apparently got cold feet the next day. A legal substitute request was then submitted by Fronnie Lewis herself and Kevin Muldoon & his wife Linda within the required 24 hour period. As of 6pm yesterday (4/25/11) Mr Muldoon is still waiting word as to if/when the Recount will proceed. According to Kevin, “The City Clerk is holding by that the original request was withdrawn and the deadline missed”. Fronnie Lewis contents  the following here:

“The recount or ‘protest’ request as the city is calling it was received on Wednesday 20, 2011 before 5 p.m. George Marciniw’s withdrawal letter was not dropped off at the Burbank City Clerk’s office until Thursday, April 21. In his letter (which I have a copy of) Marciniw says quote: The organization ‘Protect California Ballots’ representative Judy Alter would like to pursue the recount using Journalist Fronnie Lewis to take my place if that is acceptable. According to the California Deputy Secretary of State, Lowell Finley, this is acceptable and legal. Also on Thursday April 21, I handed City Clerk Margarita Campos my personal letter volunteering to replace Marciniw in the recount request process. While I was there, Kevin Muldoon came in with two letters and handed them to Campos. All three letters were delivered to the city clerk before 5 p.m. Thursday, April 21.”

It appears that the City is resisting the Recount request and in doing so further eroding any remaining confidence in their honesty and integrity, not to mention the much maligned mail-in ballot process itself which has failed to increase voter turnout and must be changed. You can read Fronnie’s stories by clicking on the below links including her most recent update and as always there’s lots of chatter over @ the SemiChorus Blog. You can also read my own Recount related email correspondence with City Clerk Margarita Campos here. I took the liberty of forwarding a copy to Judy Alter (emeritus UCLA Professor) @ Protect California Ballots who responded with the following statements via email:

“I believe that Ms Campos has not done a recount.  I checked with the CA Deputy Secretary of State, Lowell Finley, about her assertion about reading only one name, etc.  She is wrong.  A recount of the city council race of all the ballots needs to have the person looking at the ballot and reading the vote to say  Bob, Emily or no vote.  One ballot will have only one vote for that race.  It will not take any more time.  I will write this out for her.  I have been manager of two citizen recounts and know that this is the required process. Asking for more money is also wrong.”

“They cannot charge by the names or ballots but only for the time the recount board members, usually $100 per person of $400.”

“The opportunity to recount an entire race is too important.  We have secret vote counting and we the people must actually see how the voters voted”.

Declaring the Results of the General Election is on tonight’s Council Agenda but astoninglishly there’s no mention at all of the Protests filed in Ms. Campos Staff Report. It’s almost as if the City is daring those concerned with this unique opportunity to audit and validate the current system to file a Lawsuit…I guess they don’t already have enough (11 current & 14 more anticipated cases to come all on City Manager Mike Flad’s watch). It’s time for newly elected Attorney General Kamala Harris to follow through on one of her election pledges and really take a look at what’s going on here in Burbank. More post Election Commentary to come shortly. In the meantime, please consider donating to Protect California Ballots to help them pay for our Recount.

BONUSES Lawsuit Update

Also of note this weekend, an update on the Burbank Leader vs. City of Burbank “Bonuses” Lawsuit, in which the City claims The Leader’s request to obtain the amount of bonuses paid to individual public employees is “illogical”. The L.A. Times is also running the story here with some good comments. The only thing “illogical” & “suspicious” IMO is the City’s stubborn refusal to comply with the Law (FOIA request) & spend thousands of taxpayers dollars (with Council approval) fighting a case they’re destined to loose, while demonstrating to all of us that they still just don’t get it…you work for us! Any public employee unwilling to disclose their salary & bonuses should tender their resignation immediately & go work in the private sector. There are 100’s if not 1,000’s of people who will gladly take your job and all the benefits that come with it  (health plan, holiday pay, pension etc). These people’s arrogance (Scott, Wilke, Flad etc.), lack of transparency  and sense of entitlement is absolutely astounding!

–Links–

The Recount: Why I support it and what will it cost

Update-on-the-burbank-election-recount-drama

News Alert: Recount in Burbank City Council race

More on the Recount of the Burbank City Council run-off

Burbank Easter Services @ CCB

April 21, 2011

For those looking for somewhere to celebrate the true meaning of Easter:

Calvary Chapel Burbank
2707 N. Glenoaks Blvd
Burbank, CA  91504
Get Directions | Web Site

Easter Sunday Worship Services

Times: 7:30, 9:30 & 11:30 am

Burbank on Parade 2011

April 10, 2011

PHOTOS

Burbank on Parade PHOTOS by Eric Michael Cap

VIDEOS

Burbank Election Guide – for “Dummies”

March 29, 2011

* Vote for ROBERT (BOB) FRUTOS for Burbank City Council

Police Commission President Robert Frutos 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 has what I consider a “fiscally-conservative” approach to dealing with many of the financial issues we face; He strongly opposes 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 believes in total transparency with respect to the release of information on public employee salaries & bonuses, which 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.

UPDATE 4/11/11. Bob Frutos Statement in response to Burbank (mis)Leader’s attacks c/o Fronnie Lewis Media City Groove Blog:

““The IBEW represents Burbank City Employees and is a part of our community. As a candidate I do not control who they chose to support or what they chose to do. I appreciate their support of my ideas to balance our city budget and I am very happy they joined me in supporting the idea that our employees should pay into their retirement plans and that employee bonuses must come to an end. From what I have seen the IBEW is not engaged in personal attacks but is asking questions about the source of contributions and endorsements.” – Bob Frutos

* Vote NO on Measure U – Utility Users TAX

Don’t be fooled by the City’s deceptive marketing of this ballot measure as a “modernization” of the UUT to fund City Services; It’s an attempt to expand what the City can TAX and protect themselves from having to refund telecommunication giants such as AT&T & Verizon for what maybe illegal Utility Tax charges on our Cell Phone bills (check your Bills folks…it’s there). They also want to TAX Satellite TV subscribers, so if you’re a Direct TV or DISH Network subscriber like us, you’ll be taxed an extra 7%. VOIP Subscribers (Vonage) will also be subject to this TAX, as will Cable & DSL Subscribers. You name it, they want to TAX it! Very Important Note: As stated by City Manager Mike Flad when questioned in a recent open Council meeting, these funds are “unrestricted” General Fund monies, which means they can be used for anything i.e. revenues generated from the UUT are not set-aside or earmarked specifically for Parks or Safety Services but can be used to pay public employee Bonuses, BPD litigation costs that the City refuses to provide an accounting for, BWP Snr Mgm’t  pay raises, and whatever else they want. Given the City chose to raise Water Rates 13.5% last year (almost twice the actual MWD increase) and hand BWP GM Ron Davis a 21% pay raise over 3 years, voting NO on this measure is also a great way to protest that unconscionable decision. And don’t forget, BWP has proposed more Rate increases (+8.4% Water, +8% Garbage, +4% Sewer) this June. Please spread the word on this …you will be paying more by virtue of additional TAXES  on top of further Utility Rate hikes!

-LINKS-

Bob Frutos for Burbank City Council Web Site

Ballotpedia – CA Utility User Taxes

Burbank Voter Information Pamphlet

Craig Sherwood – BurbankNBeyond.com Commentary

SemiChorus Blog – It’s not “modernization”, it’s extension


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