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City Buzz: Burbank city manager threatens to resign

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Photo: FLLewis / Media City G -- Burbank City Manager threatens to resign over failed vote at city council meeting November 16, 2015

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G — Burbank City Manager threatens to resign over failed vote at city council meeting November 16, 2015

Last night’s city council meeting produced a bombshell and it had nothing to do with the council’s approval or so-called endorsement of the controversial Bob Hope Airport Replacement Terminal Conceptual Term Sheet. The Burbank Airport Authority overwhelmingly gave this framework for an airport replacement terminal agreement a thumbs up two weeks ago.

At the council meeting Monday night, Mayor Bob Frutos provided some exceedingly, long-winded explanations of the document. In the past, many council members claimed they had not made up their minds about it. So despite these claims and the numerous speakers who stood up and denounced the term sheet last night, mainly for its lack of community input, the council majority’s approval came as no surprise. Dr. David Gordon was the lone no vote. No shocker at all. The bombshell was dropped late into a long evening, when City Manager, Mark Scott, threatened to resign if the council voted down an item on the consent calendar.

On the surface, it does not seem like the kind of issue to challenge the council with threats of walking out on a job that pays somewhere around $300,000 a year. Apparently, Scott did just that. The issue, an item on last night’s consent calendar, which would have reclassified one administrative officer position in public works to the title of public works administrator. That employee reportedly had taken on some additional responsibilities. It would have bumped the salary and benefits for that employee annually $13,989.16 or from around $140,000 a year to $154.000.

It is not unusual for the city council to be asked to make a change in a city hall job, which would result in a hike in salary and benefits. However, when this issue came before the city council a second time, last September, Scott got peeved with some of the questions from council members, especially the mayor.

Then last night, the council voted on the reclassification of that job. At first it passed with a 3-2 vote, but a short time later Dr. Gordon changed to a “no vote,” therefore, the item failed. The city manager was not happy. “There’s something causing people to vote no… it’s just a wrong decision to vote this down” Scott said.

Mayor Frutos responded by asking Scott to clarify an early statement;  “You basically said that if, if it were three votes (against) … you’re resigning tomorrow (Tuesday).” Scott refused to deny nor confirm that threat saying only, “You’ve already spoken .. I get it.”

Today neither the city clerk, Zizette Mullins, nor city spokesman, Drew Sugars, received a resignation letter from Scott.

What we may be seeing here is a power struggle over who is in charge. The city council hired Scott to be city manager back in the summer of 2013. Scott had been city manager in several cities, most recently in Fresno — where his job was, ah, probably not as demanding as it is in Burbank.

Remember, when Scott got called in on the carpet by the city council  in the spring of 2014, after he publicly complained about the tough questions and expectations of some Burbank residents during the controversy over group homes in residential neighborhoods. Following a closed-door evaluation on April 15, 2014 the council reaffirmed their support and confidence in Scott. In light of this recent development, perhaps it’s time to just cut the cord with Scott and look for another city manager.

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