Posts Tagged ‘bwp’

MWD CA Water Tour with Marsha Ramos

October 21, 2016

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Last weekend we were blessed to join our MWD Dir. Marsha Ramos and a diverse group of local community leaders on a Metropolitan Water District Trip to the California State Water Project / Bay-Delta. We toured Feather River Fish Hatchery & Oroville Dam, learned about the Cal Water Fix via presentations by MWD experts Stephen N. Arakawa & Curt Schmutte, and visited the Banks Pumping Plant & Bay-Delta. Guests included Councilman Bob Frutos, Sr. BWP personnel, various Board & Commission members, representatives from the business community & former Dir. Mike Nolan! Below are links to some of the Water Presentations & Trip Pictures fyi. #LearningAboutWater

CA Water Fix Summary | CA Water Fix Presentation | BWP Water Report

FLICKR Photo Album | FACEBOOK Photo Album | VIDEO Highlights

 

 

 

Burbank City Manager (+ Staff) Meet-&-Greet

November 10, 2013

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I had the privilege of attending a wonderful meet-&-greet for new City Manager Mark Scott hosted by Burbank City Councilman Bob Frutos & Marsha Ramos. Also in attendance were Police Chief Scott LaChasse, City Clerk Zizette Mullins & a host of Burbank community leaders. Scott has impressed many since he took over the reigns as CM a few months ago with his humility & willingness to listen to everyone, regardless of whether they wear a suit & tie or a hawaiian shirt, a refreshing change vs. the previous arrogance & indifference displayed by some Staff members. I’ve also been impressed by his professionalism & honesty, and while I didn’t agree with his $300k contract, I have a lot more confidence that with his experience  & leadership approach we can right the ship, make better/wiser decisions & ultimately make Burbank a better place to live, work & play.

Among the topics I heard discussed during the evening; Tuesday night’s marathon 10hr Council meeting that went to nearly 4am, the Lemonade and Family Services Agency Youth Counseling decisions, the new Bob Hope Airport Terminal Measure B vote (2015) & B-6 property use/sale, the BWP fund transfer lawsuit & recent tragic house fire death of a disconnected customer, the Cusamano’s Talaria Condo project w/Whole Foods, BPD Litigation incl. 2 recent arbitration rulings against the City, the $12M price tag  & the Valento “extortion” indictment, the Walmart ruling re traffic mitigations & Staff’s “dishonesty”, as well as the Council decision NOT to appeal the ruling (3-2 vote), the DeBell Golf course ongoing viability, the Starlight Bowl, traffic, and much more. A night of great food, fellowship & conversations.

FACEBOOK PHOTO Album | FLICKR PHOTO Album

Burbank Water & Power’s 100th Birthday

October 13, 2013

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Burbank Water & Power 100th Birthday FLICKR Photos | FACEBOOK Photos

Photos from Burbank Water and Power’s 100th Birthday Celebration.

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]

Conversation with Bob Frutos – BPD, BWP, Budget

December 29, 2012

Eric Michael Cap discusses BPD Reforms, BWP Rates, Budget Balancing & Business Development with Burbank City Council Candidate Bob Frutos. Please visit Bob Frutos’ website for more information.



Burbank Town Hall meeting

December 1, 2012

Burbank Town Hall

Photos from Burbank Town Hall #3 @ John Muir Middle School (click photo)

PhotoBucket Photo Link | FaceBook Photo Link

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

L.A. Times publishes Burbank Employee Salaries

April 11, 2011

The L.A. Times has finally published Burbank Employee Salaries for 2009 & 2010 as part of their ongoing efforts to hold Local Government officials accountable. Big “Thanks” to Kimi Yoshino for following through on this.

http://documents.latimes.com/burbank-2009-earnings/

http://documents.latimes.com/burbank-2010-earnings/

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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