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Burbank City Council and those lingering controversies

Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove — Burbank City Hall

In the course of business as usual at last night’s meeting, the Burbank City Council made some decisions involving issues which are continuing to generate debate and controversy. During public comments, Jose Sandoval, a volunteer coach for the Burbank Parks & Recreation Department for 16 years, returned to speak to the council members again.

Sandoval coaches five teams and about 80 kids, mostly from low income and single parent homes. Some of the baseball players are physically challenged as well. On May 18, 2009, Sandoval got into an altercation with an umpire and was ejected from a game. Sandoval was suspended for the rest of this season, despite a lot of protest and pleading from parents and his players. Many of the parents claim Sandoval is being treated harsher than other coaches in similar situations. At a hearing on June 8, arranged by the Parks & Recreation Department, that suspension was upheld and extended until next May, according to Sandoval.

Sandoval asked for the council’s help in getting documents from that hearing before his day in court. That’s right, a dispute with a baseball umpire has become a criminal matter. Sandoval got a letter on Monday, June 22 ordering him to appear in Burbank Superior Court on July 2, 2009 to answer to a misdemeanor charge of battery, Section 242 of the Penal Code.

The city council members and City Attorney Dennis Barlow said they were unaware that Sandoval was being prosecuted for his involvement in that altercation. Still, the beleaguered coach was assured he would receive the documents he requested by tomorrow.

Also, speaking during public comments, long time Burbank resident Mike Nolan, who demanded to know, “how much money,” is being spent on lawyers and investigations and “how many claims” are there against the city. Nolan has asked these questions before. However this time, after some discussion about  “preserving the integrity” of the investigations, the council and city attorney grudgingly agreed to provide Nolan with some information.

Later in the meeting, the council voted 4-to-1 to include an addendum to the police commission application. That addendum would include three items requiring applicants to reveal if they have been convicted of a felony, a crime of moral turpitude or have been on probation. Councilman Gordon, who voted against the addendum, pointed out the police commission application never asked these sort of questions before and, “… I don’t think the city has suffered for it.”

Council Member Anja Reinke argued the addendum would help  “… protect the city.” When Gordon suggested the answers to the questions by the candidates could taint “…their reputations.” Reinke led the charge to have the addendum classified as confidential, something the city attorney said he would have to check to see if they could do legally.

Gordon opposed the confidentially, saying it sends the wrong message when the council should be about providing transparency, especially in light of the council’s controversial removal of John Brady from the police commission. Council Member/Mayor Gary Bric countered by saying he has received, “…very positive feedback” to the way the council ousted Brady from the police commission. Applicants are now being sought for consideration to fill that vacant seat. It will be interesting to see who steps forward and volunteers to go through this dubious process.

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