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The Burbank City Council, Police Commission, and the case against petty squabbles

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Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove — Burbank City Hall at East Olive Avenue and North Third Street.

Last Tuesday night’s Burbank City Council meeting was like a marathon, it went on and on, but for a good reason. The city council had a busy agenda filled with issues and concerns on December 8 and that packed the chamber at city hall.  The controversy over declawing domestic cats brought out the largest crowd and got the city council bombarded with over 100 e-mails.

During a public hearing on a proposed city ban on the practice, speaker after speaker argued against declawing calling it cruel, even “inhumane,” and claimed it is primarily being done for the convenience of pet owners. They suggested such simple alternatives as clipping a cat’s nails and providing a scratching post for the feline in order to protect furniture.

A small group of opponents of the ban spoke out as well. Some of them cited pet owners with health issues like “compromised immune systems” as a good reason for declawing. Still others defended declawing as  medically safe, if done properly, and a choice that should be left up to the pet owner and a veterinarian.

Burbank Police Captain Janice Lowers, who supervises the Burbank Animal Shelter, came out in support of the ban. Captain Lowers said the shelter has seen a number of declawed cats with health and behavior problems. After some debate, the city council voted 4-to-1 in favor of banning the declawing of cats only. The lone “no vote” came from Mayor Gary Bric.

Two female Cal State Northridge students sitting next to me were taking diligent notes. One of the journalism students was baffled by Bric’s vote against the ban and asked me about it. Earlier, Bric had stated he couldn’t vote for the ban if it included all animals. Well, Council Member Anja Reinke changed her motion to only cover cats and Bric still voted “no.” I thought that was odd and I couldn’t explain it to the confused student. The way I see it, if you’re going to have a declawing ban it should cover all animals, not just cats. The emergency ordinance takes effect immediately, beating a December 31 deadline for enacting declawing bans. Burbank is now the eighth city in the state to outlaw declawing of cats.

Public comments and the rest of the agenda items followed, so the city council meeting did not wrap until well after midnight. While the rest of us headed for home, the council members went into closed session to deal with more city business.

In retrospect, this was a good council meeting because the council members stayed focused on the issues, this time around, and did not get into petty squabbles. This is something the Burbank Police Commission should try to emulate. At the December 2 meeting, the police commission proceedings were hampered by constant bickering on the panel. There is a huge divide growing between the renegade commissioner, James Etter, and the rest of the panel. How can the police commissioners step up and help solve some of the serious problems in the Burbank Police Department when they can’t seem to stop fighting among themselves? I was very disappointed. I had high hopes for this police commission.

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7 Responses to The Burbank City Council, Police Commission, and the case against petty squabbles

  1. Jim C. Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 11:38 pm #

    Etter might be a little happier if the PC had some kind of specific duties spelled out, so that they could do something.

    By the way, the city just hired some more high-priced prestige people to help them with their BPD cases:

  2. Buzzie9 Friday, December 11, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    The cat decalaw thing tells me that the city can concentrate when they want to. Way sad they can do it to protect cats but not to protect people. Oh wait! Maybe they can get their votes next time around from cats. What’s next a bill called voting rights for cats, authored by the vice mayor and seconded by Talamantes ?

  3. Fronnie Friday, December 11, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    Jim C,

    I agree, Commissioner Etter is fired up and eager to get busy. While Etter wants to sprint, some of the other commissioners seem to want to stroll.

    Etter argues for townhall meetings to hear public concerns, while other commissioners are focused on things like what order to list items on their agenda. To be effective, they need to get in sync.

    As for the two high-profile attorneys hired by the city — I’m not clear on their roles.


    I see your point. I agree with you, the council took swift action to protect cats. Somehow that was clearer to them than what needs to be done NOW to protect Burbank citizens in light of the police department lawsuits, scandal, and problems.

  4. Eileen Friday, December 11, 2009 at 7:55 pm #

    Well most of us average citizens just don’t understand how some council members can be so concerned with cat toe nails and so unconcerned about human beings and civil rights.

    They hire more attorneys to defend themselves at our expense and the police commission is a total waste of time if they want to stroll as you said Fronnie Lewis. That’s the problem they have been strolling for a long time now and it’s time for change.

  5. Fronnie Friday, December 11, 2009 at 10:39 pm #


    I’m concerned as well that the council seems to be hiring expense lawyers to prepare a long drawn-out defense. The goal should be to deal fairly and quickly with those lawsuits — that would save the city money. Our money.

  6. DixieFlyer Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 2:03 am #

    Some of the best on point comments lately.

    The money being spent has yet to be accounted for.
    They won’t even clearly define the roles to be played, by whom and at what cost.
    Anja says ‘wait for the Reader’s Digest version’!!
    JESS says ‘It’ll be years and years’–for what??
    ‘Oh, we can’t tell you thaaaattt’

    As for the Police Commission, their letter to the City Council was intercepted by staff. After a prolonged delay, it finally reached the parties addressed to.

    While Mr. Etter was trying to get items on future agendas, another Elise by name, commented that she couldn’t support placing Etter’s items on a future agenda because her items were “more important”.

    Then (drum roll, please)she recommended they all check out the marvelous Web site provided by GOLONSKI.

    The web site just happpppened to be run by MR BOBB!!!
    The same Bobb-and-Weaver magically hired, in secret by the City Council at GOLONSKI’s urging.


    The outreach meetings were not as ‘important’.Right Dave, Whatever you say Dave, ‘We’re listening carefully”.

    When the Chamber filled with grieving Cops and their families, ANJA called them “vigilanties”

    When the out-of-town cat folks showed up, they were welcomed with open arms.

    Another transparent effort to draw attention away from the MESS.

  7. Fronnie Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 2:23 am #


    Your comments are right on point as well. Also, I have to agree with your assessment of most of the council members’reaction to the grieving friends, relatives, and co-workers of Sgt. Neil Gunn, Sr.

    The only council member who seemed to be truly touched by Sgt. Gunn’s tragic suicide and the grief of those who knew him was Dr.Gordon.

    And yes, all the council members showed considerable patience with those on both side of the cat declaw controversy last Tueday night.

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