Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove. (From left to right) Commissioner James Etter’s empty chair, Chairman Robert Frutos, Commissioner Claudia Bonis, and Commissioner /Vice-Chairman Nathan Rubinfeld at the October 14 police commission meeting.
There’s a good chance James Etter’s chair will be vacant at this Wednesday’s special Burbank Police Commission Meeting. Commissioner Etter walked out of the police commission meeting on October 14, after complaining loudly about what he considered a lack of progress by his fellow commissioners.
Later on, the commissioners voted to hold a special meeting to draft a letter to the city council asking to “beef up” their responsibilities and become as Commissioner Ray Adams put it:”… more valuable to the community…” during these difficult times. The commissioners decided to hold that special meeting this Wednesday, October 28. There were reports about that special meeting on this blog and elsewhere on the Internet and in the media. However, it seems all the commissioners may not be on the same page when it comes to being more helpful to the public.
Yesterday, I e-mailed Chairman Robert Frutos and asked what he hoped to accomplish at the special meeting and if Etter would be attending. Frutos’ response this morning was:”I will be glad to answer the questions at our Wednesday meeting.” When I asked for a clarification Frutos wrote:”I would like to give my response in public with the other commissioners present.” Hmm, that’s strange. Does he really mean, to give his response under the watchful eyes of Police Chief Tim Stehr and Assistant City Attorney Juli Scott?
Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove — Assistant City Attorney Juli Scott gives direction to the commissioners during the October 14 meeting.
The purpose of the special meeting was stated publicly by the commissioners at their October 14 meeting. So why can’t Chairman Frutos answer simple questions about that meeting from a Burbank resident and yes, a member of the media? Also, the word is already out that Commissioner Etter may not show-up for the special meeting because of a medical issue.
Skeptics have called the Burbank Police Commission’s new found “desire” to be more active in the community and responsive to public needs and inquiries as more smoke than fire. Sadly, they may be right, at least in the case of one commissioner.
Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove —(from left to right) Commissioners Elise Stearns-Niesen, Claudia Bonis, (Chairman) Robert Frutos, (Vice-Chairman) Nathan Rubinfeld, Ray Adams, and Hagop Hergelian at the October 28, 2009 special police commission meeting.
They did it. The Burbank Police Commission composed and approved a letter last night to be sent to the city council. The letter was drafted by Commissioner/Secretary Elise Stearns-Niesen with the aid of Vice-Chairman Nathan Rubinfeld and input from the rest of the commissioners, including the absent James Etter.
As I reported earlier, Commissioner Etter is dealing with a medical issue, in fact, he had surgery on Monday. However, days before the medical procedure, Etter sent several e-mails to Chairman Frutos: one apologizing for walking out of the previous police commission meeting, another asking for certain issues to be placed on future agendas, and a third offering a suggested letter to the city council.
No action was taken on Etter’s agenda items because he needed to be present to do that, however, his suggested letter to the city council was used as a framework by Stearns-Niesen and Rubinfeld. The draft letter asked for a clarification of the police commission powers and duties as dictated by the Burbank Charter, apparently with the intent of the commission becoming more helpful to the city and its citizens during this troubled period of lawsuits, investigations, and yes, scandal.
That letter is supposed to go out officially to the city council this week. Chairman Frutos stated Etter would be “… up and running…” and able to attend the November meeting. The only problem is there will not be a police commission meeting next month. The commissioners voted to not meet again until Wednesday, December 2, 2009.
The Burbank Police Commission is moving forward, perhaps a lot slower than many would like, but it’s making some progress. We’ll just have to wait and see whether the commission will be able to get up to speed in the next few months and become a real value to the community.