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Talk of the Town: Burbank City Attorney on the hot seat

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Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Burbank City Council meeting August 14, 2012 from left to right: Councilman Gary Bric, City Attorney Amy Albano, and City Manager Mike Flad

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Burbank City Council meeting August 14, 2012 from left to right: Councilman Gary Bric, City Attorney Amy Albano, and City Manager Mike Flad

The controversy surrounding the dismissal of the Omar Rodriguez cases has put the Burbank City Attorney, Amy Albano, on the hot seat.  At the city council meeting on August 14,  Albano, was asked to explain how the Omar Rodriguez cases ended.

You might remember, Albano took over as city attorney last October. Albano reportedly has nearly twenty years of experience in municipal government and was previously the city attorney for Thousand Oaks. Albano beat out 27 other candidates for the Burbank city attorney job. So one would think Albano would be articulate and skilled at explaining legal cases involving the city — well, if she has those abilities they were not demonstrated at last Tuesday’s meeting.

Albano stumbled, stuttered, and backtracked through several rambling, convoluted explanations and responses about the police litigation cases, particularly those involving Omar Rodriguez. Now don’t get me wrong. I really don’t expect Albano to adopt the pompous, painfully deliberate speech pattern of Vice-Mayor/City Council Member, Emily Gabel-Luddy. Still, I wish Albano would slow down, take time to organize her thoughts, and then deliver a coherent response or explanation.  Is that too much to ask?

During last Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Dave Golonski asked Albano to give an update on the police litigation cases, including  the dismissal of the federal wrongful termination case filed by former Burbank Police lieutenant, Omar Rodriguez. About Rodriguez, Albano said:”… the federal court required us to go to mediation … out of that there were discussions . …  Mister Rodriquez did dismiss his federal wrongful termination case against the city,  his state order case against city…  And the city dismissed its cross complaint against Mister Rodriquez for misappropriation of the police files….  because in that situation …the city early on in the litigation had a prreliminary order requiring the return of the files …  and everything was returned.”

City Councilman Dr. David Gordon asked this question: “Was any money paid directly or indirectly to obtain a settlement in this case?”

Albano response: “… no we did not pay money… we didn’t waive attorney fees, we didn’t receive attorney fees . .. in this type of action … the city itself ,whether it prevails or not, is not entitled to attorney fees.”

City Council Gordon asked about the truthfulness of a statement, which appeared in a Burbank Leader article dated August 8, “Former Burbank police officer drops case against city,” by Maria Hsin: “… a document filed with the court June 29 by Lawrence Michaels, who represented Burbank in the case, stated that he’made a proposed offer to counsel for Mister Rodriguez.’ “

Albano response:” … in the state court action… on our cross complaint at a hearing… there was a document that stated that. And we went back and talked to our counsel because we were never told there was any type of settlement offer made. .. we didn’t authorize any thing to be made. When we talked to him he said that was not what was said in court… We had that discussion with the reporter… that there was no settlement … My concern with that article the way it was written… made it sound like we had been in some kind settlement negotiations for like a couple of months that’s clearly not the case –at all. ”

Councilman Dr. Gordon question: “How did the city become aware that Mister Rodriquez desired to end his cases against the city?”

Albano response: “… in federal court we were asked to go to a mediation and that’s where discussions originally started. The council authorized us to move forward in discussions and that’s exactly what we did.”

Later on, Dr. Gordon felt a need to make a clarification in regards to that response:” …with the respect to the council authorizing anything related to the Omar Rodriguez case… I will speak for myself..  I did not authorize something with Omar Rodriquez… and that’s the way it is.”

Albano is apparently saying the decision to dismiss the Omar Rodriguez cases came directly from the city council. Or, certain city council members. Which council members made that decision, when did they do it, and what were their reasons? Just a few simple questions, which still need to be answered.

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One Response to Talk of the Town: Burbank City Attorney on the hot seat

  1. Jim C. Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I’m not aware of any action that required O. Rodriguez to return those documents to the city “early on.” So what’s Albano talking about?

    In fact, several years ago, Judge O’Donnell ruled that he and his attorneys could keep them under attorney-client privilege. They’d been compiled to help him in his defense, and so she rejected the city’s demand to give them back.

    What they were were confidential personnel records and an internal investigation or two on some of Burbank’s top cops. I suspect this secret info was invaluable to Rodriguez in the end, and helped him get the city to settle or disappear.

    There’s obviously something in those documents that the city does not want anyone else to see, and they want to keep Rodriguez quiet about them.

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