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Talk of the Town: A stare-down at Burbank City Hall ends

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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

The stare-down between the Burbank City Attorneys Association and the Burbank City Council is over. The association blinked. City Hall sent out a news release yesterday saying: “Representatives of the BCAA advised the City Manager by letter on July 17, 2014, that their group is disbanding effective immediately and is withdrawing a lawsuit and several complaints with the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB)” Also, the release is posted on the Burbank City website.

Here’s the back story. Contract negotiations between the city and the BCAA reached an impasse last summer. Then a few months ago, the union filed a lawsuit against the city claiming its members were unfairly being forced to pay a portion of the 8% employee pension contribution. Other Burbank unions have agreed to have their members pick up that cost. “Being able to make these agreements with virtually all our bargaining units has allowed the city to stay solvent to the point where we haven’t had to reduce service levels like so many other cities have,” Burbank City Manager, Mark Scott, said in a Burbank Leader article. But the BCAA members, 10 city attorneys and one paralegal, wanted a special deal. So the BCAA sued the city for $2 million in damages.

Last April, all five city council members voted to impose an employment contract on that unit. A tough decision, but a necessary one. The council showed a willingness to stand-up to these city attorneys. A rare move. In the past, the Burbank City Council would routinely rollover easily for staff , while dishing out over-the-top praise to the staff.  Not this time. The dispute created tension at City Hall.

“Although the Association is proud of the work it has done on behalf of its members, it has become increasingly clear in the last few months that we can no longer effectively represent the interests of our members without potentially damaging our professional relationship with other members of City management and creating disharmony in the City Attorney’s Office. We believe the only way to avoid this is to disband the BCAA,” said BCAA President Terry Stevenson in the release.

A decisive victory for the city council and Burbank taxpayers.

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