Posts Tagged ‘Jackie Waltman’

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

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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

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


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