Posts Tagged ‘business’

Burbank Election Commentary & Analysis

April 2, 2013

GordonEndorse-2

Congratulations to Councilman-Elect Bob Frutos on his stunning election win in our recent Burbank Primary, becoming the first non-incumbant to be elected outright in a Primary since Bob Kramer did it 18yrs ago in 1995. More remarkable is the fact that Frutos easily defeated 3 well-known incumbents, whereas Kramer won 1 of 2 open seats at the time. Frutos won the election because while the City Council majority were busy ignoring the BPD Litigation “mess” and majoring on minors (puppy mills, downtown muzak etc), Frutos was having conversations about the Big Issues with the Community such as our ever-increasing Utility Rates & Renewable costs; BPD Litigation costs ($7.1M spent + $3.2M owed), Police Reforms & Public Safety; Bonuses & Pay Raises and their impact on our massive $252 million unfunded Pension Liability; Fiscal responsibility & Budget Priorities that maintain our excellent City Services, Neighborhood Protections and Small Business (see Videos below). Frutos is a very likable & humble leader committed to serving the people’s best interests and I wish him well as he takes his seat in May. May God bless and guide Bob Frutos.

Dr. David Gordon finished 2nd (48%) & was the top incumbent vote-getter by 364 votes over Jess Talamantes (46%) and 20yr incumbent Dave Golonski (44%). This result while surprising to some, was not a surprise to me given Dr. Gordon’s track record on the above-mentioned issues the last 4 years. He’s the only Councilmember who has consistantly asked questions about these issues and challenged his colleagues and staff on their assertions & positions. Now that both Bob Frutos and Juan Guillen are endorsing Dr. Gordon, I expect him to receive a nice bump & easily win re-election, despite the negative campaign being propagated by Pro-Golonski Supporters and the Burbank Leader, providing he continues to campaign & engage the issues.

The race is really for 2nd and that choice is not so clear-cut. When you examine the voting record of Mr Talamantes & Mr Golonski over the last 4 years on the Big Issues, there’s really not much difference. Both have voted to raise Utility Rates 4 years in row while approving a 21% pay raise for BWP GM Ron Davis, who was already grossing $250M, & 7-11% pay raises to Sr BWP Mgm’t in the middle of the worse recession since 1929. Both have supported the virtual blank check given to our City Attorney’s office which has already spent over $7.1 million on outside Attorney’s defending BPD related Litigation. Two of the three cases that made it to trial have resulted in expensive Jury verdicts against the City; we’re currently on the hook for another $3.2M (awards + costs) and now have to deal with a 2nd wave of wrongful termination lawsuits, 3 of which have already been filed by former BPD Officers. Yet we’ve just learned that several fired Officers were cleared of any wrong doing in several independent District Attorney/Sheriff Dept. investigations dating back to 2011. Apparently no one on the Council knew about or had seen these clearance letters, yet they’re directing the City Attorney in these matters. Another epic failure to lead by a Council majority who continue to bury their collective heads in the sand, deny any wrong-doing despite clear trial evidence to the contrary and circle the wagons. It’s not “unfortunate” it’s “unforgivable”!

What that means for you and me is that instead of a new (scaled-down) Central Library or Boys & Girls Club Bldg. or McCambridge Pool, we’re giving $Millions to Lawyers & Law Firms who are getting rich. When the new Council seats in May we need to begin an outside investigation & audit of our City Attorney’s Office re their handling/mis-handling of the BPD “mess”, as well as the City Council’s involvement.

Continuing; Both Golonski & Talamantes voted to support the City’s legal defense against the release of Public Employee Salaries & Bonuses ($4 million paid out) when they were sued by the Burbank Leader’s parent company and lost, although to his credit Mr Talamantes did vote to suspend the Bonus program while it’s creator Dave Golonski defiantly supported it’s continuation. I could go on…their Failure to repay $50 Million in Redevelopment Loans back to the General Fund prior to the Redevelopment Agency’s dissolution c/o Governor Brown, a $2 Million Golf Course bailout while cutting the ($8k) Easter Eggsplosion for our kids, the Recycle Center debacle, the 3yr Verdugo Pool delay etc. Bottom line; neither incumbent has represented the community well and their bad decisions have cost us $Millions.

Which leaves former School Board Pres. David Nos. I like the fact that he’s a small-business owner who’s experienced financial hardship and can hopefully relate to the rest of us and make better financial decisions than the other 2 guys who don’t have F/T Jobs or run a business. The problem with Nos is a) He hasn’t taken a public position on what I consider the Big Issues and b) He’s too far behind. Yes he’s picked up Bob Frutos endorsement but that’s not enough to close a 1200 vote gap IMO. For comparison, Frutos was able to make up about 700 Votes on Emily Gabel-Luddy in 2011 with Gary Bric’s post-primary endorsement. Todd Campbell was able to turnaround 1841 Votes on Bric in 2003 so it’s not impossible given the anticipated continuation of the anti-Talamantes campaign by anti-Walmart forces, but the fear is by voting for Nos you maybe enabling Dave Golonski to sneak past Jess. This is causing many people to choose the lesser of 2 evils (so-to-speak) and Vote for Jess Talamanates in order to keep Mr Golonski off the Council. It’s an interesting delimma.

I like Jess & Dave and have supported them in the past but can’t support both based on what they’ve done the last 4 years. I also think it’s time for Dave Golonski to move on…we have plenty of experience on the Council and I don’t know why anyone would want to serve more than 2 terms (8yrs), let alone 5 terms (20 years). Dave really should take a leaf out of former Mayor/Councilwoman Marsha Ramos playbook; She served just 2 terms before helping to start Family Promise of ESFV, a wonderful non-profit working in partnership with the faith-based community to provide housing & resources for temporary homeless families. She then moved on to become Chair of the CA American Lung Assoc., which I get a real kick out of being one of the guys who campaigned to create our wonderful Second-hand Smoke Control Ordinance in 2007. And just a few weeks ago she celebrated another success with the passage of the Measure S School Bond, a remarkable feat given the relatively small time window to campaign, limited funds, and all the confusion & controversy surrounding the Bond. So the good news for Dave or whichever incumbent is unsuccessful in their re-election bid is – There is Life after the Council. 🙂

Links: David Nos “Issues” Q&A | Open Letter to Burbank City Council re Bonuses & Burbank Police Dept. Litigation | pltf-evidience-in-opp-to-defs-msj-rodriguez-part-1-2-3789487

[Note: Story updated w/new links. Orig. posted March 22nd]

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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

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 Primary Election Commentary

February 27, 2011

Incumbents and voter apathy ruled in Tuesday’s Primary Election, with all 4 incumbents (1 Council & 3 School Board members) being easily re-elected in the lowest voter turnout since the Mail-in Ballot system designed to increase voter turnout began in 2005. A meagerly 8,073 votes were cast (approx. 14.3% of 56,499 Registered Voters), representing an almost 3,000 vote decline from the 2009 Primary where 10,990 votes were cast. On the Council side, incumbent Gary Bric, aided by 3 mailers from the IEBU, received 4,642 votes or 57.5%, down slightly from the 61% he received when elected 4 years ago. Emily Gabel-Luddy came in 2nd with 3,845 and will face Bob Frutos in the April General Election run-off.

Frutos received 3,071 votes and has a lot of ground to make-up if he’s going to turn-the-tables, but such a turn-around is not without precedent. In Bric’s first run for Council he easily beat Todd Campbell in the Primary by 414 votes (2921 vs. 2507), only to loose in the General Election in a dramatic 1,841 vote swing (4933 vs. 3506). That said, for Frutos to win he’s going to have to find votes and give those 3,000 people who didn’t vote this Primary a reason to vote for him. I asked Todd Campbell a few years ago how he did it and he shared with me that he took time off work and basically knocked on every door in Burbank. Perennial Councilman Dave Golonski knows this campaign “secret” well and despite the advent of social media, blogs & email, good old-fashion door knocking is still the key, especially in a largely disinterested electorate.

Jackie Waltman who was a late entry in the race got a very respectable 2,131 Votes. It will be interesting to see if she sticks around to lobby the Council for the elimination of public employee bonuses, greater transparency, and opposes the now mandatory annual BWP Rate increases, or if she does what most challengers do, disappear like Kimberley Jo & others. I for one hope she remains politically active & look forward to seeing her speaking at future Council meetings.

The School Board election saw a good showing by 2-time challenger Gregory Bragg, but not enough to challenge the incumbents. Most people appear fairly happy with the direction our Schools and the election results reflect that. The School Board now faces the challenges of dealing with further cuts in education funding. It will be interesting to hear where they weigh-in on Governor Brown’s proposal to eliminate Redevelopment Agencies and if they proceed with an effort to put on the ballot at Parcel Tax increase in 2013.

So what does this all mean? You can expect more of the same from Bric & the Council majority, although Gary did go on the record as stating he was now opposed to City Employee Bonuses after getting heat over the issue during the campaign. Hopefully he’s a man of his word and given Frutos & Gabel-Luddy are also opposed to these secret bonus payments, we can at least see an end to that practice soon. Bric has shown the ability to think independently and has even voted with Councilman Gordon on occasion. It will be interesting to see what if anything he can accomplish during his 2nd Term to make Burbank a better place to live & work. Don’t expect any changes re the Council’s hostile attitude towards Burbank Police Dept. Litigation and related expenditure that has already cost Burbank Taxpayers unaccounted $ Millions. You can also count on Utility & Water Rate hikes again, but apparently the majority of folks in our upper-middle class town don’t mind. The reality is because of the excellent rainfall we’ve received the last 6 months, most people haven’t really felt the pain of the 13.5% Water Rate hike approved last year, but with warmer weather coming they soon will, especially if/when the Council approves another 8% increase in June.

The future of our Mail-in Elections is another hot topic that needs to be addressed. It’s time to review & re-think the whole process IMO. Some feel the City should pay for postage to encourage more voter participation. Would it help? It certainly can’t hurt. I have no doubt some people filled in their ballots but didn’t have a stamp handy, were going to drop it off but didn’t get around to doing so for whatever reason. That said, it really doesn’t get any easier than this, and the City provides numerous places for residents to drop off their ballots.

Perhaps we should mail out ballots 2 weeks later to give candidates a few extra weeks to introduce themselves and get their messages out to voters. This is especially important for the challengers who do not have the name recognition of incumbents. In fact to my knowledge, no incumbent Council or School Board member has ever not been re-elected since we went to the mail-in system.

Should we go back to having an actual Election Day? Perhaps, but I worry voter turnout could end up being even lower, and doing so would make our Election more expensive. A related idea is to move the election date to November to co-incide with Federal & State Elections. I believe this would absolutely increase voter turnout but worry local issues & candidates would get lost in the mix, overshadowed by the massive media coverage & advertising devoted to partisan Federal/State campaigns. It’s always amazed me that so many people pay so much attention to these bigger races, yet in many ways the decisions made by our local elected officials have far greater impact on our daily lives.

Regardless of what happens, one change I’d like to see is a few real debates where members of the public can stand up and ask questions of all the candidates (1 pre-Primary/ 1 pre-General), vs. the current “controlled” LWV Candidates Forum with pre-screened questions. It would also help if our local rag (Burbank Leader) actually covered the election and the big issues more than they currently do and in a impartial manner. One couldn’t help but notice the page 2 preferential placement of Emily Gabel-Luddy’s answers in their Candidate Q&A’s and the Mailbag letter of support published the weekend before the Primary, something that was disallowed by previous Editors.  The previous weekend we had the Bric + Gabel-Luddy endorsements, Bob Olsen’s City employee bonus defense and Craig Sherwood’s support for City nepotism. I sent responses to the later 2 [scroll down] but neither were published, nor were several other letters I received copies of from well-known Burbank residents opposed to the “confidential” City Hall bonus payments.

So why are so few people in Burbank engaged politically? I know we’re all busy with work, school, church/community activities etc., but this unprecedented low voter turnout is an ominous sign for the future of our City as so few people seem to care. Can folks not find 1 hour over the weekend to at least watch the LWV Candidates Forum to make an informed/educated decision vs. voting for someone just because you’ve heard of them, or received a bunch of glossy mailers, or because a friend/neighbor told you to, or because the local newspaper endorsed them? Are people that lazy, that busy, that apathetic?

Without public involvement bad things happen. Remember what happened in Bell was largely caused by residents not paying attention or voting. In a few months the 3 big BPD law suits will go to trial and things are going to come out that may shake the core of our City to it’s foundations. But knowbody cares, unless of course some developer wants to build something in their neighborhood. The lack of any real debate also doesn’t help generate interest; We have one Candidate’s Forum and a few Q&A’s in the Burbank Leader and that’s about it. I’d really love to see Frutos & Gabel-Luddy go head-to-head on the issues before the General Election but that’s probably not going to happen.

Many people who were once active in local Politics are no longer involved, having been discouraged and in some cases the victims of vicious personal attacks and retaliation for their opposition to our City Council & Staff. I’m not sure what cataclysmic event will cause those people to once again get involved; perhaps something to do with the Airport (expansion) or BPD lawsuit revelations? Who knows, but for now the only thing we have to look forward to is at least one new Council person to replace outgoing Council member Anja Reinke, whose largely forgettable 4 year term ends in April. Please PRAY for Burbank!

BURBANK 2011 PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS

City Council

Jacqueline “Jackie” Waltman – 2,131 votes

Emily Gabel-Luddy – 3,845 votes – MOVES ON TO GENERAL ELECTION

Robert “Bob” Frutos – 3,071 votes – MOVES ON TO GENERAL ELECTION

Gary Bric – 4,642 – ELECTED

Board of Education

Ted Bunch – 4,373 – ELECTED

Roberta Grande-Reynolds – 4,491 – ELECTED

Dave L. Kemp – 5,041 – ELECTED

Gregory Bragg – 3,318

Home Occupations redux

February 22, 2011

Below is my final attempt to get Council action on this issue.

Dear Burbank City Council Members,

I am writing to request your support for amendments to our Home Occupation Ordinance  that would allow for up-to 2 visits a day (5-10 a week) as per my previous letters on this subject. A quick review of surrounding cities within Los Angeles & Orange County show other cities have much more flexible ordinances that do allow for on-site client visits (see Attachments). The Home Occupation Task Force which I was briefly part of was charged with seeing if there was a way to make it slightly more flexible with regards to client visits while maintaining our neighborhood protections. Unfortunately Task Force members were not able to find a way, even though I presented clear evidence from other City & County Ordinances that show this could be achieved. Staff has been against making changes from day 1 and the stacked Tasked Force made up of 1 Chamber Rep, 1 Board of Realtors Rep & 2 Retired Citizens did essentially what Staff wanted them to do. It’s important to note that no survey or notice of meetings was sent to the 1200-1400 residents with registered Home Occupations in Burbank for their input. I would encourage you to review the minutes of the 2nd meeting I participated in for some of my comments on specific changes. I’m also attaching a copy of my resignation email so as to avoid any undue controversy re alleged inadvertent Brown Act Violations (keep in mind this was an Ad Hoc committee). The City has an opportunity this evening to display both leadership and understanding of current economic conditions and advances in technology that enable more people to work at home, especially in media related professions. I ask you direct Staff to come back with an amended ordinance with a provision that allows a reasonable number of visitors with an on-site parking provision. Thank you for your consideration.

UPDATE 2/17/11: As expected, the Council voted 4-1 to adopt Staff’s recommended changes containing only 1 amendment, with virtually no discussion outside of Dr. Gordon on the major issue of Client Visits. Mayor Anja Reinke called it “crazy” but still voted for it “as is”. Gary Bric asked a question about set-backs, while Dave Golonski & Jess Talamantes said absolutely nothing, surprising since they had supported it before and pledged their support during their Election Campaigns. * Video highlights are now available on my BurbankHomeBiz YouTube channel (see below Links).

What that means (according to Staff) is you are breaking the law if you have anyone visit your home for business purposes, including clients picking up or dropping off work, although I beg to differ with their interpretation. Of course the ordinance is unenforceable; you can have as many family members & friends visit as you like and there’s no way for the Home Occupation Police  to determine who’s coming & going, and unless you’re creating a disturbance you probably don’t have much to worry about out as enforcement is complaint based (although Staff could manufacture bogus complaints just to hassle you).  I’ve stated before that I believe the ordinance violates our constitutional rights and is discriminatory as it allows some people (music teachers) to have client visits, and I hope to have the item re-considered before a new Council. I gave up going to Council meetings a long time ago after their failure to grasp the Film Permit Ordinance and specifically their failure to allow the use of even 1 external low-watt light (LED, CFL etc.) for photo/video purposes. Unfortunately they still just don’t get it. Another EPIC FAIL!

–LINKS-

L.A. County Home Occupations

Orange County Home Occupations

La Canada Home Occupations

Pasadena Home Occupations

San Diego Home Occupations

Calabasas Home Occupations

HOTF Resignation Letters

Home Occupations Staff Report

YouTube_Staff Report

YouTube_Council Discussion

Airport Shenanigans

February 16, 2011

Just happened to get a tip from a local resident that the Burbank Leader web site is running a Poll about a mandatory airport curfew that someone seems to be skewing towards a “No” Vote. I too found this surprising given the overwhelming support in the community for such a initiative, not to mention efforts by the Airport Authority and local Legislators like Adam Schiff to obtain a curfew. I’ve also heard at least one Council candidate say something like “no relocated terminal without a curfew” during our current local election campaign. I say, NO Relocated Terminal period! This comes on the heels of an interesting article that appeared in The Leader a few weeks back re FAA “safety” concerns at Bob Hope. As the 7 year “truce” in the Airport Development Agreement is set to expire next year, I’m wondering if this is the beginning of an orchestrated propaganda campaign for a “safer” & perhaps “greener” terminal? I hope not! The Airport Authority itself contents it’s safe and a relocated terminal could mean increased flight landings over the Hillside. In any case, please take a moment to visit the site and Vote YES for a Mandatory Curfew.

UPDATE:  This Poll was definitely being rigged/manipulated…+80 “No” Votes in  1 hour (740-820) from 8-9pm on 2/17/11. Busted!

–LINKS–

http://www.burbankleader.com/

Leader Article – Safety Issue resurfaces at Bob Hope

Leader Article – Legislators push new airport curfew bill

Burbank City Nepotism?

February 12, 2011

In response to Craig Sherwood’s Column: Don’t vilify families that work together

http://www.burbankleader.com/news/opinion/tn-gnp-0206-sherwood,0,3965807.story

I don’t believe anyone is “vilifying” families that work together. What some have asked for is a list of all City Employees who are related in order to determine if we have nepotism problems where relatives &  friends receive favor (jobs, promotions, pay raises, bonuses etc.) regardless of merit, and if there are any related conflicts of interest. But just like with the bonus issue, City Manager Flad & Management Services Director Wilkie are refusing to be open/honest about it, citing the same bogus privacy claims.

Let’s take one of the more recent controversial hiring’s, that of Mayor Anja Renke’s daughter Ericka 2 years ago as an example. Was the job she was given advertised? If so, where? How many applicants responded? How many where interviewed? Does anyone (Civil Service Board) review all hiring’s/promotions to make sure the best person is hired/promoted? Where are the checks & balances? Does someone who is not related to the City “Family” have a fair shot at a job? These are valid questions that need to be addressed. Also, what discipline (if any) do City Employees receive for illegal conduct outside of the workplace? What is our policy re sexual harassment and internal relationships within City Departments?

I have no problem with a daughter or son of a Council person or some other employee’s relative working for the City. As pointed out, this happens a lot with Police & Fire folks. I just want to know that we’re hiring the best people based on their experience, talent & skills not because their related to or know someone @ City Hall. And BTW, Government is not suppose to be a private “Family Business”.

Regarding the Bell comparisons; Do you realize we’re audited by the same Accounting Firm that gave the City of Bell a clean bill of health? Not exactly something that inspires public confidence in the integrity of our finances. At the very least we need to re audit last years finances.

All bonuses need to be disclosed period…no more excuses! And as they’re apparently discretionary and not based solely on an employee’s performance review, some kind of explanation/justification must be documented, not just for the public but for other employees who also got “exceptional” performance reviews but did not get a bonus.

Finally, re the City Attorney not complying with the Burbank Leader’s FOI request; The City Council has the authority to direct him to release the information but have not as yet. Hopefully that changes soon.

–Links–

http://www.burbankleader.com/news/tn-blr-civilservice-20101029,0,3998932.story

Film Permits & Home Occupations comments

October 20, 2009

Dear Burbank City Council,

Thank you for your reconsideration of the latest set of revisions to our Film Permit Ordinance. A few final comments:

I’m glad to see Tripods are back as a permitted use and to see the added definition of “camera stabilization equipment”. Last meeting I asked a specific question about the use of stabilizers such as Steadicams, Varizooms, Glidecams etc., and Staff clearly stated that they we’re allowed as they’re attached to the body, held in the hand and carried by the videographer. That said, there still appears to be some confusion in the community on this and I think it would behoove Staff to clearly re-state this for the record tonight.

I am disappointed that we still don’t have a reasonable and safe allowance for low-watt lighting such as a 1000W permit-free lighting cap; I know several people submitted comments in support of this idea but there was no such mention in Staff’s report. It appeared a few Council members were willing to consider it last meeting but were talked out of it by Staff who said something to the effect of “it’s not the wattage but how it’s used”. Well you can say that about anything right…cutlery, power tools, vehicles etc. I would ask that a poll be taken prior to your final vote to see if there is support (3 votes) to add this exemption.

I still have major concerns re the definition of “Commercial Use” to include “Advertising on YouTube”. This is going to hurt small businesses who use the web for viral marketing, realtors who advertise properties via virtual tours etc., and should be removed. Previously we made no distinction between personal vs. commercial use, as the end-use has no bearing on public safety. To require our local small businesses to pay $350 to produce short videos that advertise their products & services in this economic climate seems counter-productive to previous stated Council goals re economic development. I’m glad we will be considering a reduced 1-Day Film Permit for 2010/11, but I made that request with ample time for consideration during this budget cycle and fear that whatever reduction is made for 2010/11 may be too little too late.

Finally, a few recent events have come to my attention that concern me. I’ve just learned of a situation where an out-of-town Film Director was told he needed a permit and Police & Fire staff on site to film a small scene in a house for his reel. Now I have no idea of how many people or how much equipment was going to be used but on the surface this seems unreasonable to me. I also read in the Burbank Leader of a BPD raid on a local film maker shooting a scene in a friends front yard that lead to a $700 citation. Then there’s the prosecution of Kevin Muldoon, an unemployed local car enthusiast prosecuted for filming a car show at Bob’s Big Boy without a permit. These incidents coupled with the City’s failure to grasp the pertinent issues & technology have caused irrevocable harm to our image and reputation as the “media capital of the world”. Considering the current economic crisis and rampant runaway production, you are not helping but hurting local media production companies that are the lifeblood of this City. I have also learned of a potential conflict-of-interest re Police & Fire Dept. personnel involved in the drafting of the ordinance who benefit financially from working on local film shoots, and find that very disconcerting.

One more thing re the Home Occupation Ordinance Staff Report; All I asked is you consider making a small allowance for low volume client visits i.e. A handful of people each week and Staff comes up with this? Think about it; one of the primary goals of the HOO is to encourage less vehicular traffic by allowing folks to work from home. So if someone works from home and does not make 2 peak-hour trips each day but has 2-3 clients visits per week which are off-peak who park on their premises, isn’t that a net reduction? How can Staff claim such a person is creating additional vehicular traffic? Let’s say I have a few people come over to play cards, or watch the game, or do a bible study or sit-in while I edit a video for them…what’s the difference? A lot of people who film now edit themselves and are also impacted by these inflexible rules & regulations but this HOO effects more than just film makers, it effects musicians/composers with home studios, graphic/web designers, people who do bookkeeping/taxes etc. The HOO is over 10 years old and can be improved by making a few simple changes that don’t require a task force or a lot of Staff time IMO. Please use your common sense when considering this item.

Lights, Camera… oh, wait a second…

September 25, 2009

MAILBAG – Published in Burbank Leader 09/25/2009

I want to thank the Burbank City Council for its approval of our revised film permit ordinance Tuesday evening. There are many additional exemptions that I’m very pleased with, as well as the expanded hand-held devices definition that allows stabilizers like steadicams, reflectors and the like to be used without a permit.

I’m also happy that external lighting will now be permitted in some cases without a permit, subject to Burbank Fire Department review. I think it’s imperative we maintain an up-to-date list of FAQs on the city’s film permit Web page and believe it would be a good idea to consider the formation of some type of ad-hoc Film Advisory Committee to review the ordinance’s effectiveness and report back to the council on an annual basis.

That said, I was shocked to learn during council discussions that tripod use, which was previously permitted under the revised 2008 ordinance, may now be precluded with respect to video camera usage. I believe this is a giant step backward and will cause a lot of unnecessary public confusion.

While there are other things I’d like to see changed — such as a one-day film permit at a reduced fee and a 1,000-watt permit-free lighting cap — I’m willing to wait for a year to discuss those issues again once we’ve had a chance to see how this works.

However, I ask that the City Council please allow tripods at the second reading of the ordinance. I believe the existing language still gives Burbank police the ability to control situations where foot traffic is being hindered or the equipment is being used in a manner that unreasonably interferes with public safety. I hope we can correct this oversight.

ERIC MICHAEL CAP

Burbank

http://burbankleader.com/articles/2009/09/25/opinion/letters/blr-mailbag090509.txt


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