Posts Tagged ‘council’

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/

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Burbank on Parade 2011

April 10, 2011

PHOTOS

Burbank on Parade PHOTOS by Eric Michael Cap

VIDEOS

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

Burbank Election Issues & Candidates – 2011

February 20, 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

Open Letter to Burbank City Council re Bonuses & Burbank Police Dept. Litigation

February 16, 2011

Dear Burbank City Council Members & Staff,

I want to echo Robert Phipps thoughts on the Bonus issue; I strongly oppose the continuation of this practice and ask that it be discontinued immediately. If that means tearing up and renegotiating MOU’s, so be it. Other Cities are instituting furloughs and laying off City workers. Given the choice I’m sure our Labor Unions would prefer to avoid such drastic actions to balance the budget, and are hopefully willing to renegotiate their contracts just as auto workers did in Detroit for the good of the community, understanding the current economic times, current & anticipated budget deficits, and the public’s overwhelming disapproval. Moreover, I believe it’s time to stop suppressing the truth regarding this and other issues and to start telling the truth. I expect total transparency regarding the amount of bonuses paid to each individual employee, and find it disturbing that the City continues to defend these secret payments and not fully comply with numerous Freedom of Information requests, which have now lead to the Burbank Leader’s parent company (L.A. Times) filing a lawsuit against us (like we don’t already have enough lawsuits). Please do not waste more taxpayers money resisting full disclosure. As the Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue the end result is a given, and outside of delaying the inevitable for political purposes, there is nothing to be gained with the City’s continued stubborn refusal to comply. Please provide the L.A. Times / Burbank Leader and the Public with the requested information asap!

I’d also like to know how almost $2 Million allocated for these bonus payments in last year’s Budget apparently slipped through unnoticed? I expect you as my elected representatives to exercise “due diligence” in making sure that every dollar of taxpayers money is maximized. It blows my mind to think that in the face of an $8+ million deficit last year, no one apparently picked up on this. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your leadership. Were you mis-lead by Staff? What else has been hidden from you and us? Try and put yourself in my position; What am I and the public suppose to think? This coupled with your handling of the BPD “mess” and your unconscionable decision to raise Water Rates by 13% and then weeks later hand out a 21% pay raise to BWP GM Ron Davis (payable over 3 years), & 7-11% raises to other Snr. BWP Mgmt, have caused me to loose all confidence in your leadership and ability to make sound decisions in the best interests of Burbank residents. I believe some @ City Hall are completely out of touch with the financial realities & hardships many in this community are facing; you may claim otherwise but your actions in these matters tell another story. It pains me to say this as I have supported all of you on the Council at one time and would much prefer to “sing your praises”, but as the Good Book says; There is a time for encouragement, a time for correction and a time for rebuking. Consider this your public rebuke and call for repentance!

A few closing questions and statements:

Were any bonuses paid to Burbank Police Dept. and other City Employees who gave depositions or declarations/affidavits in any of the existing BPD litigation? If so, to whom and how much?

Will you direct Staff to provide a full list of the names of all City Employees who are related to each other, as per Civil Service Board Member Schlossman’s request, to deal with the nepotism issues that are in my opinion one of the root causes of our many problems?

Will you authorize the release of the Merrick Bobb Report into the BPD “mess” or a redacted (PBOR-friendly) version of it to the Public prior to the General Election? If not, why not?

How much has the City spent in total as of 1/31/11 on Burbank Police Dept. Litigation, including all costs for 3rd party Attorneys, P.I.’s and any other parties in relation to these matters?

How much did my recent Deposition in the matter of Omar Rodriquez et al vs. Burbank Police Dept. et al, cost Burbank taxpayers, including all costs for Subpoenas (Google/YouTube, me), Private Investigators (Gary Prince @ Prince Investigations), Attorneys (Thomas G Mackey @ Jackson Lewis,  Veronica Von Grabow @ Mitchell Silberg & Knupp), Videographer (Chuch Goswitz @ Legal Video Services) and Court Reporter (Lana L. Loper @ Affinity)?

For those of you who aren’t aware, last Tuesday I gave a Deposition in the above matters pursuant to the attached Subpoena and Request for Documents. The Deposition was a result of videos I re-posted on YouTube.com featuring BPOA Pres. Mike Parrinello, who appears to give false testimony on numerous occasions based on secretly recorded audio excerpts played following his answers. I make no apologies for exercising my 1st Amendment Rights in posting the videos; I believe I have a moral responsibility/duty to share important information with the public and will continue to exercise these rights. I was asked how I got the video, if I’d had any communication with any of the parties listed in the subpoena, if I knew who edited or posted the original video, if I know who has 27 secret audio tapes, if I know who a blogger named “Going Nuts” is, and other questions totally unrelated to the case subject matter. At the end of the day it was a fruitless exercise, an abuse of process and waste of everyone’s time and thousands of (taxpayer) dollars.

Below are links to the videos in question FYI. Given that these matters are set for Trial shortly, I would encourage you to direct the City Attorney to focus his time and energy on trying to expedite settlement of these cases before more embarrassing details come out in Court that end up costing taxpayers $ Millions more, not to mention irreparable harm to our City & Police Dept. Haven’t we already wasted enough money? Haven’t enough people been hurt, reputations & careers ruined, and our City divided? The buck stops with you and while you may not have created this “mess” it’s your responsibility to fix it!

–LINKS–

YouTube_Mike Parrinello Video Part1
YouTube_Mike Parrinello Video Part2

PLTF’s REPLY to DEF OPP to PLTF’s MTN to Quash Depo Subpoenas (3594675) (New)

Cap Deposition Subpoena PDF Download

Plaintiffs Motion to Quash PDF Download

SemiChorus Blog Story – Cap cops to desposition

SemiChorus Blog Story – Rodriguez Deposition

Robert Phipps Bonuses Letter PDF Download

Phil Berlin Bonuses Letter PDF Download

Councilman Gordon Email Reply PDF Download

Burbank Leader vs. City of Burbank Lawsuit PDF Download

CA Supreme Court Case Law PDF Download

Burbank Employee Gross Salaries – 2010 PDF Download

Burbank Employee Gross Earnings – 2009 PDF Download

Burbank Leader Editorial on Bonuses

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

Burbank Public Employee Bonuses

February 12, 2011

Re: http://www.burbankleader.com/news/opinion/tn-gnp-0213-mailbagb,0,2533155.story

So BWP board member Bob Olson doesn’t think merit bonuses constitutes a giveaway of taxpayers dollars when taxpayers are paying for them? ($1.3 Million in 2010). And detailed disclosure is not in Burbank’s best interest as an employer? Really?  Taxpayers aren’t entitled to know how their money is being spent? WOW! What Planet is he living on? Aren’t most other Cities providing detailed disclosure re Employee Salaries in light of the Bell scandal? God forbid we engage in any form of open/transparent local Government. No surprise coming from someone who supported last years 13.5% Water Rate hike, then just a few weeks later championed BWP GM Ron Davis’ 21% pay rise (payable over the next 3 years), plus 7-11% pay rises for other Snr. BWP Exec’s at a time when so many people are having trouble just keeping the power on. [For the record, Davis grossed $255k in 2009 & $263k in 2010]

This is the same old tired  argument we heard when the City hired and overpaid Mike Flad as City Manager. And how’s that working out? How many lawsuits are we dealing with and how many $ Millions have we already spent all under his watch? City workers need to be grateful they have a job period,  that they haven’t had to endure furloughs, pay cuts or layoffs. Most people in the real world I know are working harder for less money, and that’s those lucky enough to be working. If having a secure job serving the community with incredible health & retirement benefits isn’t enough to attract or keep our exceptional public service employees in these tough economic times, then perhaps those folks should pursue careers in the private sector. Read Col 3:23.

–LINKS–

YouTube_Public Comment1

YouTube_Public Comment2

SemiChorus Blog Response to Bob Olson Letter

Burbank Arts Festival, Car Show & YMCA

August 14, 2010

Eric’s Burbank Arts Festival, Road Kings Car Show &  YMCA Healthy Kids Day Photo links

Public Comments re 2010 Burbank City Budget

June 8, 2010

Dear Burbank City Council and Staff,

Below are my comments re tonight’s Budget Public Hearing FYI.

1. Reduced Single-Day Film Permit Fee – SUPPORT

I’m very pleased to see this, although my original idea was for reduced fees for small productions i.e. 1-3 man crews using under 2,000W total lighting not requiring on-site Police or Fire oversight ,but simply Administrative Approval based on an Online Application (i.e. E-Permit ala L.A. http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_14975843?source=rss ). This would not cause any loss of revenue as most of the permits pulled currently are for larger scale TV/Film Productions. I ask consideration be given to a Free or lower lost option that would cover these type of productions/situations given advancements in safe low-watt lighting technology (LED, HDMI, CFL) i.e. simple interview with 3-point lighting system, small business product/service videos for the web that need minimal lighting etc.

2. Utility Rate Increases – OPPOSSE

I strongly oppose the proposed Utility Rate hikes and consider them excessive given current economic conditions. I am particularly upset about the 13.5% increase in Water Rates and consider this a slap in the face to all of us who have strived to reduce our water usage and as a consequence of that reduction are now being “rewarded” by this massive increase. These hikes will not just adversely affect older residents on fixed incomes but many others who are unemployed, under-employed, or have seen significant downturns in their business due to the recession. The latest CPI numbers show a 2.2% increase for all items and -.2 decrease for energy costs from April 2009-2010 ( http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm ). Any increase above the CPI during these times is unconscionable in my opinion. When faced with similar circumstances recently, The L.A. City Council rejected DWP’s proposed Rate Hikes following a massive Citizen outcry and demanded an audit. Currently DWP is proposing a 4-6% increase in residential Water Rates ( http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/06/l-a-water-rates-could-rise-by-8-this-year-dwp-manager-says.html ). If DWP is asking for only a 4-6% rate increase, how can you justify 13.5%? I strongly urge you to cut in half the proposed Water Rate hike and do everything you can to mitigate future increases.

3. Requested Discussion Item: Swimming Season Partial Extension

It disappoints me that after all the discussions over the last 2 years re extending our swimming season and new swimming pools, this years swimming season has not only not been extended, but decreased compared to previous years. This is a giant step backwards and hardy reflects the Top 5 Goal status these items once had (2008). I realize there are budget constraints, but I ask that you re-consider this and extend the swimming season but at least 1 month until the official end of Summer, say September 19th. Based on last years costs, the cost of this partial extension would be approximately $26,000, which shouldn’t break the bank.

4. Attorney Costs – General Comments

I do not support any additional Tax Payer Funds being spend on outside Legal Counsel to deal with Police Dept. related litigation. Our City Attorney’s Office is more than capable of handling this in-house, and to this end I support one-time funds being allocated to hire additional help. I am concerned that down the road the Council will be asked to allocate more money towards dealing with these matters. I encourage the Council to direct the City Attorney’s Office to seek expedient settlements to minimize fiscal impacts where possible, along with speedy implementation of all of BPD Chief LaChasse’s recommended reforms to ensure this “mess” never happens again. I also believe an independent audit of our City Attorney’s Office would be appropriate at this time.

Thank you for your consideration.


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