Posts Tagged ‘pers’

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 Election Results & Recount + Bonuses

April 25, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link: Election Night Photos

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

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 According to Kevin, “The City Clerk is holding by that the original request was withdrawn and the deadline missed”.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BONUSES Lawsuit Update

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

–Links–

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

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

News Alert: Recount in Burbank City Council race

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

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

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

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


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