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City Buzz: Turmoil at Burbank City Hall

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Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Burbank City Hall 275 East Olive Avenue

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Burbank City Hall 275 East Olive Avenue

I don’t know a delicate way to put this so I’ll just bottom line it and ask, “… what the blank is going on at Burbank City Hall?” Lately,  a lot of the decisions and actions by city officials have been very confusing or down right weird. Let’s start with City Manager Mike Flad. On his way out the door, Flad slammed the brakes on what appeared to be a hasty decision to search for a permanent police chief. Flad is making the dash to South Gate to fill the position of city manager there. Flad is taking a pay cut to go to work for that sleepy little town in South Los Angeles —  leaving behind the Media City and all its perks. Hmm.

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- City Manager Mike Flad at a city council meeting at Burbank City Hall March 15, 2011

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — City Manager Mike Flad at a city council meeting at Burbank City Hall March 15, 2011

An ambitious man who understands the importance of self-preservation, Flad, will now hole up in South Gate and await the results of that much-anticipated report about the Burbank police mess/scandal expected by the end of the year from the Feds.  In his new position, Flad will be able to put some distance between himself and that report and whatever action goes along with it. Should he take a heavy hit in that report, he’ll be able to lay low in South Gate and do damage control on his image and career — before moving on to a higher profile job. Sounds like a good plan.

Burbank city council members admit they were shocked and surprised by his decision to jump ship — which proves Flad is an extremely skillful city hall player.  They didn’t see it coming, even though, it has been whispered about around B-town in certain business circles for weeks.

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse at city council meeting in Burbank August 28, 2012

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Interim Police Chief Scott LaChasse at city council meeting in Burbank August 28, 2012

While the city council scrambles to replace the city manager (more on that later), Interim Police Chief, Scott LaChasse, gets to keep his job a while longer. The permanent police chief recruitment was probably the result of LaChasse falling out of favor with some of the City Hall power players — despite his efforts to appease them and continue to do the job of rebuilding the Burbank P.D. I have criticized LaChasse on this blog for letting himself get distracted by politics and spending a lot of time lobbying city hall for the permanent police chief position. LaChasse has made some mistakes and some strides in the BPD — hopefully, now he can return his focus to making more improvements on the force.

The recruitment, and all of the rumors and questions which went along with it, were probably tough for the chief to swallow. Still, he remained focused and professional in public. You really can’t say the same for Councilman/ Mayor Dave Golonski.

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Councilman/Mayor Dave Golonski at city council meeting in Burbank September 18, 2012

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Councilman/Mayor Dave Golonski at city council meeting in Burbank September 18, 2012

Mayor Golonski has exhibited some very strange behavior recently.  At the September 18 city council meeting, Golonski had activist Mike Nolan tossed out because he applauded when the city attorney said there was nothing to report out on from closed session.  Throughout the evening, other citizens continued to applaud comments and none was removed.

Lately, Golonski has gone after those activists he doesn’t like by mangling their names during public comment or telling them not to talk if he sees them whispering. I’ve attended city council meetings and I have seen citizens whisper and staff members carry on lengthy chats in the audience and Golonski has never told them to keep quiet.  It’s a double standard — that comes as no surprise from the leader of the council majority who has led the movement to continue to discriminate against fellow Councilman, Dr. David Gordon, by blocking any attempt to allow him to serve as vice-mayor or mayor. It’s no surprise– but it’s still wrong.

Now comes the Steve Ferguson e-mail dust-up.

Ferguson, who is campaigning for a seat on the Burbank School Board, had a meeting with Golonski earlier — which apparently went well until Nolan crossed their path. Here’s the e-mail message the mayor sent to Ferguson.

On Sep 21, 2012, at 8:11 PM

Steve,

I’ve had time to reflect on our meeting and your friendly greeting to Mike Nolan as he passed us. I’m contemplating attending each of your campaign events and asking you about the company that you keep. Don’t you see how wrong this is?

Thanks,

Dave

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On Tuesday, September 25, Ferguson e-mailed a copy of his response and the mayor’s email to the media. Here’s Ferguson’s email.

Sent 9/25/12: Follow Up to our meeting‏

Dave are you kidding me? You know Nolan frequents downtown. I didn’t pick the place to meet and at no time during, before or after our meeting have I spoken about this meeting with Nolan.

During our meeting I requested nothing more than respect from you during the campaign season. That is all. Clearly based on the tone of your email even that basic courtesy cannot be afforded to me or anyone else who affiliates himself/herself with someone you don’t like or disagree with.

Mike Nolan may have a bad mouth on him and yes, at times, his language is colorful but his choice of words and opinions are not my responsibility.

Dave, I would love you to attend my campaign events and I would love you to ask me that question and, after I’m done responding, I’m sure more than a few people in attendance would love to ask some questions of you.

So I have to ask, as Mayor, is it your new position not to engage all perspectives when forming policy? This way of thinking is both outdated and absolutely toxic to this community.

I’m tired of the divisiveness in this town  Dave. It is not your role to decide who can talk to who, it’s not your job to decide what opinions get heard. Frankly, you aren’t the man I met almost twelve years ago. You aren’t the man who once encouraged an eleven year-old, Steve Ferguson, to speak his mind freely.

Dave you really break my heart. This office has changed you, 20 years has changed you and now your bitterness, anger have lead you to make decisions on the council that are both unwise and completely irresponsible.

Dave you can call me at anytime or email me anytime you choose as I welcome your perspective. But please don’t believe for an instant that because this request is coming from our city’s Mayor that I will abandon my own commitment to inclusiveness and respect.

I’ve included the Burbank Leader, Fronnie Lewis of Media City Groove and Jim Carlisle of Semichorus to this response as this is my official position on this issue for the campaign.
Best regards,

Steve Ferguson

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Ferguson demonstrates considerable courage by standing up to the mayor, who is perhaps the most powerful (feared) political player in town. I told Ferguson a while back — he should run for city council. I hope he will someday.

A lot of chatter on Semichorus about this — including a comment from the mayor — check it out here.

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2 Responses to City Buzz: Turmoil at Burbank City Hall

  1. Resident Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Really great recap. It is reaching the point where there is little if anything to trust at Burbank City Hall.

    The only thing transparent about Mayor Golonski is that he targets people who displease him. Targeting people is the core issue behind what has become known as the police mess. This really makes me wonder how deeply involved Golonski has been behind the scenes in creating this mess.

  2. Fronnie Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    Resident,

    I agree. Very well said. This email-gate has confirmed in public what many have been saying about Dave Golonski in private.

Comments are closed.