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The Leader sues the city of Burbank

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This is a big weekend for the Burbank Leader. If you check its website — you’ll quickly realize why. Two major developments. The new Sunday edition of the Burbank leader/Glendale News- Press comes out today. The other actually happened last Friday. The lawyers for the Los Angeles Times, the Burbank Leader’s parent company, sued the city of Burbank for the release of those individual employee merit-pay amounts.

On December, 20, 2010, I delivered a letter to the Burbank City Attorney’s Office, supporting the Leader’s public records request for that merit-pay information and making my own request for the same data. The media, the residents — we all have a right to know how public money is being spent.

In my letter to City Attorney Dennis Barlow I asked that his staff comply with the Leader request — and not allow the matter to become yet another lawsuit against the city. There is a long list of suits against Burbank — mostly related to the police mess — that are costing the citizens a bundle of dough to fight.

The bottom line is the city’s argument that merit-pay is based on an employee’s performance evaluation — and since that is private —  the amount of that bonus should be protected, too. Well, Burbank Management Services Director, Judie Wilke, has admitted that merit-pay dollars are paid out at “…management’s discretion.”

I know a 30-year Burbank employee who got a merit-bonus last year. She has received the required exceptional performance rating before  — but that has not always resulted in a merit-pay bonus. She is curious — like a lot of folks in this town –about the REAL criteria for the merit pay bonuses and who REALLY gets the biggest chunk of this fund –budgeted last year at $1.87 million.

A lawyer for the L.A. Times put it this way: “I think the bonus structure that Burbank has is very unusual in its generosity and very unusual in its secrecy.” I’ll say right on to that. More on the Leader’s lawsuit here.

The Burbank Primary Election ballots are out

Burbank local election graphic

The campaigns for the two seats on the Burbank City Council are in full swing. Political functions, campaign signs going up, and campaign pitches arriving in the mail along with the ballots for the upcoming Primary Nomination Election.I got my ballot last week, but I haven’t  mailed it off  — and probably will not do so for a while. Ballots are due by 7 p.m. Election Day, February 22, 2011. Check out the countdown to Election Day in the far right column of this website.

At the Glendale Church of Christ this morning, I took an informal poll among some Burbank residents. Out of seven, only two had mailed in their ballots so far.  Others were still studying the candidates.

Also, this past week, I spotted signs for Burbank City Councilman Gary Bric and council candidate, Jackie Waltman in the hillside area. The Bric and Waltman signs are joining the ones already up for candidates, Bob Frutos and Emily Gabel-Luddy.

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Porto's Bakery & Cafe 3614 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Porto’s Bakery & Cafe 3614 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank

On Wednesday evening, January 26, a fundraiser and meet & greet was held for Bob Frutos at Porto’s in Burbank. The affair ran only a couple of hours or so, but more than 100 folks dropped by to graze on the tasty Porto’s treats, to show support or to meet the candidate. Among the movers and shakers I saw there, former Burbank Mayors, Marsha Ramos and Michael Hastings, Burbank City Councilman Dr. David Gordon,  Burbank Police Commissioners, Nate Rubinfeld, Jim Etter,  and Hagop Hergelian.

Police Commission Chair Frutos gave a rousing speech to the crowd about the need for change in Burbank and his desire to be the people’s representative on the city council. At the Women’s League of Voters Candidates Forum on January 19, in the Burbank City Council Chambers, Frutos came across as the strongest candidate, followed by Burbank Landlord-Tenant Commissioner, Jackie Waltman, Planning Board Vice-Chair, Emily Gabel-Luddy, and in fourth, Councilman Gary Bric.

Interestingly, after listening to the city council candidates’ statements, I rated them the same:  (1) Frutos, (2) Waltman, (3) Gabel-Luddy, and (4) Bric.  I’m giving the best ratings to the candidates grounded in their desire and determination to put the interest of the citizens of Burbank first.

Bric is last on my list because he defends the status quo — including the raises given to Burbank Water and Power honcho, Ron Davis and his top executives — while also voting to jack-up utility rates.  We need change in Burbank and it’s not going to come with voting Bric onto the city council for a second term.

To listen to the Candidates Forum or to the brief statements from each candidate, click over to the Burbank city website.

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