The Burbank City Council is set to meet in a special closed-door session this evening at City Hall. The main order of business — dealing with issues pertaining to the departure of City Manager, Mark Scott, and selecting his replacement. The meeting comes exactly two weeks after the infamous November 16 city council meeting, where Mayor, Bob Frutos, told the council members and the public Scott threatened to resign if council members failed to pass the reclassification/promotion of a public works employee. The item on the consent calendar was voted down 3-2. Since then, Scott’s threat has morphed into a retirement and now the details of that have to be worked out.
In a Myburbank article published on November 19, Scott described the item as “routine” and “low cost.” Yet, Scott was willing to walk away from a job paying around $300,000 annually because it failed to pass the city council. Mayor Frutos, Council Members Dr. David Gordon and Jess Talamantes voted “no” on the item. Frutos told Media City Groove his tough questions about this item were based on “fairness and transparency.” Fairness for other employees, he says, who should have the right to “compete for the newly reclassified job.”
The two “yes” votes on the item came from Emily Gabel-Luddy and Will Rogers. In an email yesterday, Gabel-Luddy explained her vote this way: “Similar positions currently exist in three other departments at the proposed pay level. This position authorization, the cost of which was included in the budget approved by Council, would have provided equitable treatment for any employee filling the position.”
In an email Sunday Rogers said: “My “yes” votes – including each of the times the same matter came before the council – were consistent with my approval months ago of the budget which included this new position and the related salary, as well as being consistent with the City Charter and the City’s contract with the City Manager. This last was crafted and approved before I became a council member, and both documents dictate the City Manager (or his/her designee) is responsible for most personnel decisions. I’ve also been given no reason to believe, suspect or even wonder whether the City Manager has established a pattern and practice of mishandling personnel decisions, whether city-wide, or within any city department.”
Also, in that email Rogers said: “I regret the circumstances of the City Manager’s departure, and don’t believe the matter has been handled in the best interests of the city, whether in the short term or the long term.”
Gabel-Luddy said: “I think the situation is regrettable.”
In a phone interview over the weekend, Dr. Gordon said: “I was surprised by his decision and it’s not consistent with my understanding of what his plans and intentions were, as stated by him, at the time of his interview as well as my personal experience working directly with him up to the present time.”
What is next for the city and the city council? Gabel-Luddy’s response was straightforward and to the point:”Obviously, the council will need to begin the process of hiring a new city manager.”