Posts Tagged ‘Steven Ferguson’

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

Causes: Family Promise ESFV Empty Bowl

May 27, 2011

Here’s a PSA I did for the upcoming Family Promise of ESFV Empty Bowl. Please consider supporting their good work by attending this great event on June 5th @ the St Finbar’s Community Center. More info here:http://www.familypromiseesfv.org/events/empty_bowl.html

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

Burbank Primary Election – Opinion

February 20, 2009

Now that most people have already mailed in their ballots, I thought I’d weigh-in with my final election thoughts. Was it just us or did anyone else have a hard time discerning which candidates to support? We read each candidate’s statement, watched their videos and the LWV Forum on Channel 6, visited each candidates web site, and conducted our own Q&A survey to see where they stand on a variety of  issues that are important to us. (See Below). So after all that, who are we supporting?

First off, someone new! Barbara Sharp is our No.1 pick in the upcoming Burbank Primary election. We’re very impressed by Barbara’s knowledge of local issues, her creative & innovative ideas, and common sense approach to solving the economic challenges we face. She supports our leading health & environmental initiatives, will abolish permit fees for small-scale video productions, and supports changes to our 10yr old Home Occupation ordinance to provide greater flexibility for those who choose to work from home. Moreover, Barbara is committed to ensuring Burbank remains the “Media Capital of the World” by working hard to retain & attract new media/entertainment companies & jobs. She’s a breath of fresh air with an infectious spirit, boundless energy and deep love for the City she now calls home. I hope my fellow media professionals will join me in supporting Barbara Sharp for Burbank City Council.

Second, someone older and familiar…Dave Golonksi. There’s something to be said for experience, especially during these uncertain times, and while Dave & I have not always seen eye to eye, he is tried & tested and has served this community well. He’s been fiscally responsible, lead the fight in obtaining airport protections for residents (Measure B, Part 161 study), has been a champion for youth causes, and put a stop to the mansionization that was ruining our neighborhoods. He proposed changes to our Art in Public Places program that now allows developers to give ½% of a projects total cost to fund school arts programs. He threatened to put up a billboard to shame a certain carrier that was violating our voluntary airport curfew. He has a vision for a new “green” aquatics center & year-round swimming programs, and recently came up with a proposal that could see Burbank & Glendale combining to build a new Armory on the B-6 property, that could also serve as a Winter Homeless Shelter. While others are talking, Dave is doing and has earned our support.

Third…someone “in-between”. There’s a number of candidate’s who’ve served the community on various boards & committees over the last few years, but we feel Lee Dunayer is a good choice to balance out the line-up. He’s a financial whiz and we could use all the help we can to balance the budget & deal with the financial challenges we face as a City. As BWP Vice-Chair he’s knowledgeable on Utility & infrastructure issues, is a big fan of renewable energy and our “green” efforts to be environmentally friendly, and as a former PERC member (& pilot), someone I trust to protect our best interests in relation to airport matters. My wife & I have been a big fan of Marsha Ramos over the years and trust her judgment, so with her glowing endorsement, along with that of City Treasurer Donna Anderson, Lee gets the nod for the 3rd available Council seat.

We all spent countless hours watching the Presidential campaign coverage this past year, but how many of us are willing to spend an hour or 2 researching the people who will be making critical decisions that in many ways, will have a greater impact on our daily lives than the decisions made in Washington or Sacramento. Ballots are due by February 24th. If you haven’t already done so, please take the time to Vote…Burbank’s future depends on it!

Burbank City Council Candidate Q&A – Steven Ferguson

February 3, 2009

 

Steven Ferguson

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing? 

~ The SHSCO was and is a great ordinance for Burbank. When it comes to regulating smoking in multi-unit housing I think we would have a very large enforcement issue. Smoking regulations in multi-unit housing should remain under the jurisdiction of local Home Owners Associations and Management. 

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions? 

~ Yes, I believe the current fee is too overbearing and would support reducing the fee for small scale productions. 

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home? 

~ Yes 

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety? 

~ Unfortunately there is not much we can do. Parents will always pick up their children and children walking home will sometimes get into mischief. 

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages? 

~ Realistically our two pools, as they stand today, are in need of a total renovation. I support renovating those pools and their current facilities. I do not support spending money to have a totally new center because I don’t believe our community is really looking for one. Our pools have met the recreational needs of our residents for many years and I support renovating the current pools so that they will last for many years to come. 

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative? 

~ Yes, to the best of my ability I would. 

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes) 

~ I believe five minutes is a long period of time and feel 3-4 minutes should be allocated to agenda items and 2 minutes to non-agenda items. I am really open for discussion and debate on this one. 

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)? 

~ I believe City staff does an excellent job of trying to meet the needs of Burbank’s residents, including FOIA requests. They know the law and do not need an extra step except for maybe a small reminder from a Council Member. 

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies? 

~ First, I must set the record straight. A budget deficit in the General Fund has no bearing on the rates which the City assesses its utility rate payers. The General Fund and Utility Fund are completely separate. I see current economic times as a mandate to assess the value of all community programs. This is a time to “cut the low hanging fruit”. Realistically cuts will have to be made, if not this year then soon. I must state that through these budgetary struggles the high level of safety that we enjoy will always be my number one priority. 

10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally? 

~ We need to give residents a reason to come out and spend. Currently, I am working on the Cultural Arts Master Plan Committee to help foster and strengthen Burbank’s art and cultural communities so that we can have community events that promotes the arts and encourages people to explore Burbank’s retail base. For example a person who comes to an art show in the downtown is likely to visit the show and then eat in the downtown, and possibly shop in the downtown. Money that wasn’t going to be spent before is now being spent because the opportunity was present. 

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank. 

~ Redevelopment Agency funds have specific uses. I support the way we have used Redevelopment Funds, but would also like to ensure that assets that are acquired with Redevelopment Agency Funds stay assets of the community. 

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs? 

~ This is a time when our partnerships with the district are going to mean more than ever. There is not a lot we can do as we ourselves face a tough budget climate. I will always been open to new partnerships that may be mutually beneficial. 

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms? 

~ I do support term limits for City Council and would vote to support a ballot measure to set term limits to three terms. I will commit to only serving two terms.

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal? 

~ I support the airport’s efforts to attain a nighttime curfew. I am not for airport expansion and would not support relocating the terminal. 

15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly? 

~ I think we have done a great job of being green friendly…I would support efforts to continue to go green but also hesitate to give a one-hundred percent commital to always being environmentally friendly. You see, often going green has a significant cost and I will not vote “to green a project” if the costs may lead to a reduction of other services for residents. I support responsible greening because at the end of the day, green is expensive. 

Contact Steven Ferguson: 
Phone: 818-967-1907 
Email: Steven@ibelieveinsteven.com 
Web site: http://www.ibelieveinsteven.com Steven Ferguson web site


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