Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — New Burbank City council in front of fountain at City Hall (l-r) Bob Frutos, Vice-Mayor David Gordon, Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, Jess Talamantes, and Gary Bric May 1, 2013
A newly reorganized Burbank City Council got down to business with a closed door session at City Hall late today. The only item listed on the agenda is a conference with legal counsel about anticipated litigation. After yesterday’s momentous event, the Burbank City Council has a fresh start and hopefully, it will drop the old baggage (stale approaches, unworkable ideas, and biases) and get on with fixing the problems and solving the issues that are swirling around Burbank.
In her acceptance speech, Mayor Gabel-Luddy spoke about her theme for the coming year being ” a creative community,” tapping new resources of ideas in our community to find new ways of thinking and new solutions to city challenges. It will be interesting to see if Gabel-Luddy can walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
A standing room only crowd at City Hall yesterday, witnessed the reorganization of the city council 2013. Several people remarked to me, “It’s a nice day.” I got the feeling they were not talking about the weather, which started off with cool temperatures and overcast skies. No doubt about it, the day was historic. Here are some of the noteworthy moments from the meeting.
Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Councilman/Mayor Dave Golonski at city council reorganization meeting May 1, 2013
The meeting began awkwardly with some very negative and downright mean-spirited comments from a few members of the public about outgoing mayor and city councilman, Dave Golonski. In the General Election last month, Golonski lost his bid for re-election. Still, on this day, Golonski was gracious to his critics and responded by saying, “It’s really a great thing in our country that people can say whatever they want. Certainly, they can say things that are far out from the truth. That’s their right. They can express their opinion.”
When it came time for his farewell remarks, the mayor continued to be thoughtful, polite, and unapologetic: “It’s been a pleasure over the last 20 years to serve a community that is as proud and great as this community… I don’t regret, for one instance, any decision that I made… I did this 20 years with my eyes wide open… made a lot of decisions … I’m sure some were not the best decisions … I made the decision that I thought was in the best interest of our community. .. all I can say is that for the 20 years I did the best I could…”
Golonski touted his dedication to volunteer organizations, support of the youth, seniors, and other groups in the community. For this, he deserves praise and received some on this site. Yet, I was a strong critic of Golonski’s insistence on leading the council to reject Dr. Gordon as mayor or vice-mayor. In Golonski’s mind, his fellow councilman was unworthy. That was a deal breaker for me. Ultimately, the voters had the final say when they stripped Golonski of power by voting him out of office.
Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Councilman David Gordon at the reorganization meeting for the Burbank City Council May 1, 2013
There have been some bitter battles and there remain some major philosophical differences between Golonski and Gordon. Yet, Gordon took the high road and delivered some respectful remarks about Golonski: ”It’s importance to recognize the service of Mayor Golonski … whether you agree with him or not is a separate issue.. the fact that he was willing to step up… is an example for everyone to know …that’s what you do in government in our country.. — you serve and you step down when the time comes.”
Photo: FLLewis/ Media City G — Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy spoke about her agenda for the coming year at the reorganization council meeting at City Hall May 1, 2013
Still, old habits and old ties remain on the council, despite Golonski’s departure. Before joining her fellow council members in a unanimous vote for Gordon to be vice-mayor, Mayor Gabel-Luddy made this comment: “I just like to say that I’m going to vote for Dr. David Gordon. Because he was a top vote getter and represents a portion of this community. And I know that people may feel one way or another. But I am happy to join with you to vote in support, of his election to the vice-mayor.” I guess, Gabel-Luddy felt she had to explain her vote to her mentor, Golonski.
In true Gordon fashion, the new vice-mayor corrected the faux pas in Gabel-Luddy’s statement: “I don’t believe I just represent a segment of the community, I represent the entire community, everybody.(applause) Each and every member of the council serves an at large position .They represent each and every member of the community. It’s their obligation to represent each and every member of the community. We just took an oath of office to do so. I will continue to do so.”
Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Burbank Treasurer, Debbie Kukta smiled at Councilman Bob Frutos as he expressed his joy after their swearing in at City Hall May 1, 2013
On of the most amusing scenes of the meeting was new Councilman, Bob Frutos, sharing his joy at joining the panel. He delivered probably the best line of the event. In reference to his election, Frutos thanked the voters and exclaimed:” When was the last time someone killed it in the primary?” Well, it has been a long time since a newbie won a council seat in the primary and more than 10 years since an incumbent council member lost out in a run for re-election.
Frutos has a right to be proud and excited. His achievement is remarkable. Yet, I must remind Frutos and the rest of the council,there’s a lot of work to be done and the expectations are high. President John F. Kennedy said in his inauguration speech, January 20, 1961: “For of those to whom much is given, much is required.”