Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove
A human rights issue in China stirred up the Burbank City Council meeting last night. I was there for the first public comments section and heard some passionate supporters of the Chinese health and spiritual movement Falun Gong speak out. They attempted to bear witness to the persecution of the practice by China, which considers Falun Gong a cult.
During a 10 year crackdown, thousands of Falun Gong devotees reportedly have been killed, tortured or thrown into jails or labor camps. One of the speakers, Yi-Yuan Chang, claims Falun Gong is practiced in more than 100 countries, including the U.S. — and specifically in Van Nuys.
What the speakers hoped to do was drum up support for the Falun Gong victims in China and backing for the U.S. House of Representatives House Resolution 605 which recognizes the persecution and calls for an end to the campaign. Instead, they were reminded by Mayor Gary Bric several times that the focus of public comments should be Burbank City business. While they got a sympathetic response from Vice-Mayor Anja Reinke, Councilman Dave Golonski insisted their cause was outside the parameters of Burbank city business.
Meanwhile, the city council reacted more positively to a group of South Victory Boulevard merchants. The council members offered words of encouragement to the merchants who returned for a second week to complain about the loss of curbside parking and the damaging effect that is having on their businesses. Again, Burbank Traffic Engineer Ken Johnson agreed to meet with the business owners to try to come up with a solution.
What most of the merchants want is for the South Victory and West Alameda Avenue intersection to be changed back to the way it was, something city officials seems reluctant to do at this point. Apparently the traffic changes, including a second turn lane, were the result of a 1997 agreement, which was not revisited before being implemented.
Also, activist Mike Nolan appeared before the city council again and requested new information on the police department:”How many police personnel are on administrative leave?” Nolan wanted to know how much money the city is shelling out for those leaves. Later, Senior Assistant City Attorney Terry Stevenson would say only statistics could be released to Nolan. That means no names of officers.
Oh, there’s another development in that controversial case of those so-called leaked personnel files and documents of former Burbank Police Detective Chris Dunn. Yesterday Dunn’s attorney announced in a press release the filing of a lawsuit against the city. Jim Carlile broke the story on his blog.
The lawyer’s press release says Dunn has “… filed a detailed complaint today against the City of Burbank seeking damages and injunctive relief after the city deliberately and illegally provided his confidential personnel file to a local newspaper. ”
“The complaint discloses that the City provided Christopher Cadelago of the Burbank Leader newspaper and other members of the media and the general public confidential documents from Dunn’s official personnel file in direct violation of specific provisions of California’s constitutional privacy protections, several state laws and numerous judicial orders.” Check out more of the press release on Carlile’s blog.
Also, over on The Burbank Leader’s new blog, Following the Leader, Burbank City Attorney Dennis Barlow answers some questions about the confidentiality of police officers’ personnel files. Interesting reading, but I don’t think Barlow’s answers really explain the actions of the City Attorney’s Office in regards to the Dunn lawsuit.