A quake rattles Burbank and other parts of SoCal
Some rocking, rolling, and shaking in the Southland late today. I was sitting in my car waiting for the red light to change at Glenoaks Boulevard and Olive Avenue, in front of the Burbank Central Library, when a 5.4 quake hit at 4:53 p.m.
My cruiser rocked so much, I thought for a moment one of those cell phone/texting distracted drivers had bumped into the ride. Not this time. It was a natural occurrence, a reminder, that we live in earthquake country.
The quake was centered 28 miles south of Palm Springs. It frayed nerves of workers in some Los Angeles high-rise buildings and even put the brakes on the rides at Disneyland for a while. Our local earthquake expert, Dr. Kate Hutton, a Caltech seismologist, says there have been at least two dozen aftershocks since the quake struck. So far, no local reports of damage or injuries.
The quake got Southlanders wondering about the “big one” that’s supposed to really shake-up SoCal one day. At a news conference, carried live by KNX 1070 newsradio, Dr. Hutton called this one “a drill” and said folks should get prepared because there’s no way to tell when the big jolt will rock our region.
Suspected Burbank cop shooter arraignment delayed
An Oregon transient, Jamie Willard, appeared in Burbank Superior Court today in connection with that bizarre shooting of two Burbank cops last Friday. Willard’s arraignment reportedly was postponed until July 22.
Yesterday’s weekly crime log, from Burbank Police Spokesman Sgt. Robert Quesada, gave a more detailed description of what happened outside of Kmart when two officers attempted to take Willard into custody. Willard, a shoplifting suspect, was handed over to the BPD cops by Kmart security on July 2 around noon.
Crime Log: The suspect had been handcuffed and was being escorted toward the police car parked outside when a struggle began. During the struggle, the suspect was able to use one of his hands to grab and remove the officer’s handgun. Multiple shots were fired with both officers being hit. One of the officers was able to wrestle the suspect to the ground and take the handgun away. The suspect was finally placed under control until additional officers arrived at the scene and assisted in controlling the suspect. Both officers were transported to the local hospital where they were treated.
Here’s an update on the officers condition. Derek Green was shot in the hand and suffered a leg injury. Green had surgery on the hand, but has been admitted to the hospital for another operation on it.
Officer Alex Gutierrez was lucky to be wearing a life saving bulletproof vest. Gutierrez was hit in the chest by gunfire several times and wounded in the leg. He has been treated at the hospital and released.
At last night’s Burbank City Council meeting, Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse gave a report on the shooting incident and tried to marginalize the fact that the gun involved belonged to one of the police officers. The chief gave the council the “ongoing investigation” line and even asked witnesses and/or people with video of the incident to contact the BPD.
The basic fact that the weapon was snatched from one of the BPD cops by the suspect has been known since Friday afternoon. There are photos of the gun at the scene in newspapers and on the Internet. There is no really good reason it should have taken this long for the BPD to put out a report including that fact. It’s foot-dragging and smacks of some of the problems and archaic policies that fed the Burbank police scandal mess and still dog the BPD.
Frequently at Burbank Police Commission meetings, Chief LaChasse talks up a storm about building confidence in the community with a new “transparency” about the BPD. Yet, it seems LaChasse is finding it very hard to do more than just give lip service to this new “transparency.”
UPDATE, Thursday, July 8, 2010: Some reported details, that the chief didn’t mention, about the Kmart shooting and the investigation being discussed over on the Semichorus blog.
Burbank Water and Power top brass get big raises
During the recent budget debate, the public was told the Burbank Water and Power has to jack up water rates 13.5 % and electrical fees 2.9% to balance its books. No way could there be a possible freeze of those rates or even a reduction, despite the recession and the financial struggles of many Burbank residents. The four council members who voted for that budget and those rate hikes claimed at the time, they were being “fiscally responsible.” Dr. David Gordon was the only one to vote against that budget.
Last night, the same four council members, Dave Golonski, Jess Talamantes, Gary Bric, and Anja Reinke voted to hand raises of 7-to-11% to the top honchos at Burbank Water and Power, including General Manager Ron Davis — who already makes well-over $200,000 a year. Dr. Gordon was the lone council member to vote against those raises.
Councilman Talamantes, who almost broke from the pack, brought up the idea of getting outside surveys on the going salaries for utility executives and a report on how hard is it really to recruit them to come work and live in sunny California. But in the end, Talamantes caved and voted with the pack.
The City Council wants to keep Davis and his team at the helm of the Burbank Water and Power. Even though, Dr. Gordon pointed out, “money doesn’t buy loyalty.” No matter, four other council members voted to give hefty pay raises to Davis and the utility’s senior executives. By the way, Burbank Water and Power is owned by the taxpayers and so it’s their money that pays the salaries at the utility.
After the vote, I passed Davis outside the city council chamber. He looked pleased with himself. Yeah, the kind of sweet deal he got puts him in the league with the greedy, self-serving Wall Street sharks and those notorious studio bosses who plunder companies, even in hard economic times.