It’s your right. Vote!
The candidates have had their say, now it’s time for the voters to speak. The polls opened for the November 2 General Election at 7 a.m. this morning and close at 8 p.m. tonight. If you still have your mail-in ballot, don’t worry. You can drop it off at any polling place or surrender that ballot and step into a voting booth and make your choices.
If you can’t find your polling place or will not be able to get there before the polls close, remember, registered voters can cast their ballots provisionally at any polling place in Los Angeles County. If you have election or voter questions, check out the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk site http://www.lavote.net/ for some answers.
You know, some local officials and politicians think that because voters in Burbank aren’t protesting in the streets, they are not concerned about government. They are so wrong. Last Wednesday, an overflow crowd packed the Burbank City Council Chambers to listen to the views of a group of local candidates at the League of Women Voters Glendale/Burbank Forum. I was not able to go to that forum, but I have attended others sponsored by the same group and they all drew a crowd. I hear politics discussed in the chatter around the Media City all the time. Folks here care about the issues and what’s going on government.
Looking ahead to the Burbank Municipal Elections of 2011, two seats on the city council, held by Anja Reinke and Gary Bric, are up for re-election. There’s a lot of talk about who might run and who might not. Mayor Reinke reportedly has put out the word that she’ll not seek another term. Bric on the other hand, is laying low, probably hoping to get another term in office without anyone really noticing. Fat chance.
Other names as possible city council candidates are being tossed around as well. As I’ve said on this blog, the upcoming 2011 local elections on February 22 and April 12, offer an opportunity to make significant change in the direction of the city. However, I’m opposed to the kind of mudslinging, harassment, and ugliness that marred the 43rd District Assembly race.
The wife of Assemblyman Mike Gatto, Danielle Gatto, wrote about some of the tactics she called “over-the-top” in a letter published in the Saturday, October 30 Burbank Leader and on the newspaper’s website.
I’m not going to get into the charges and counter charges by Gatto and his detractors. However, if as Mrs. Gatto says in her letter that their family car was “..smashed up with a baseball bat and paint poured all over it..” that is outrageous and the perpetrators should be prosecuted. Also, let me include other kinds of vandalism like the stealing or damaging candidates’ signs. This kind of thuggery and attempt at intimidation should not be condoned in any Burbank political campaign.
Some details on the upcoming Municipal Elections from the Burbank City Clerk’s Office here.
Vice-Mayor Talamantes and the nepotism controversy
Nepotism is one of the potentially explosive issues simmering right below the surface in Burbank city government. I’ve heard about it and wrote about it on this blog. Nepotism in city government got a public airing at last Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Burbank City Council and Burbank Civil Service Board.
The joint meeting was a study session to discuss various standards, rules, and regulations dealing city jobs and employees. The discussion was pretty routine and polite until the subject of nepotism came up. CSB Chair Nathan Schlossman said some board members were “…made aware that nepotism was rampant in the city of Burbank.”
In November 2009, Schlossman says he requested a list of employees who are related from Management Services. That department refused to provide the information declaring it was not in the board’s jurisdiction.
Rather than give up, Schlossman found another way to get the information. In March of this year, through a California Public Records Act request, Schlossman got a list of Burbank employees with their titles and departments. He analyzed the list by dismissing almost all common names and then looked for matches. “I was astounded by what I saw,” Schlossman said. “…I found a striking just a huge number of relatives.”
Schlossman used the Burbank Police Department as an example: “Now this is as of March 2010. I don’t know if things have changed. But to have a department with 165 sworn officers and support staff, I don’t know how many there are of those. But to have 29 relatives working there is astounding… and frankly I found it in every department… some more concentrated than others.”
I was at this meeting and I was shocked and disturbed by this revelation. Now Vice-Mayor Jess Talamantes, he took offense, especially when it was suggested relatives of council members should not work for the city: “You know, that’s what the city of Burbank was built on –family. I mean after 30 years on the fire department, there were several dads and sons that came on board. Because they followed their Dad’s footsteps. Just like the police department. Followed their Dad’s footsteps. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t want to paint this negative. No, there’s a positive to that.”
“So when it comes to, you know, city employees and family members, I don’t like some of this conversation because it goes against the core of what we the city of Burbank is all about.”
“Just because I wanted to run for council so I can do the best thing I can for the community, for the future of the community, my kids are being deprived of a future, a career with the city of Burbank. I don’t feel that’s right at all.”
“And I don’t see any corruption here, you know, we’ve had our problems, definitely every family has their problems. We are a family, We are going through a problem. We’re trying to manage them, Just like any family. You face your problems and you try to manage your problems. Work with them. Find resources to make you better, that’s what we’re going through right now.”
“…I agree we do direct staff to look at the nepotism policies, strengthen it somewhat, but not to the point of the pendulum swinging the … other way, saying nobody can be related in the city of Burbank anymore.”
This sounds like Talamantes feels the city owes his kids jobs because of his 30 plus years at the fire department. If that is the case, Talamantes has shown himself to be part of the problem in Burbank.