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Time for serious change in Burbank

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Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove — Burbank City Councilman David Gordon and Vice-Mayor/Council Member Anja Reinke at the Tuesday November 3, 2009, council meeting.

Reverberations from last Tuesday’s Burbank City Council meeting are still shaking the town and probably will continue to do so for some time. That should really come as no surprise to anyone who was there or watched it on TV. It was an explosive event with huge ramifications.

Things really got cooking when Councilman David Gordon declared publicly what many in this city have been talking about and hoping for. Boldly, Dr. Gordon called for his fellow council members to consider an emergency action to discuss putting Burbank Police Chief Stehr on “administrative leave.”

Gordon cited  the “stress and tension” in the department brought on by Stehr’s questionable leadership, Sergeant Neil Thomas Gunn’s death, and a slew of investigations and lawsuits. Stehr has been named in some of those lawsuits and is more than likely being questioned as well in the FBI’s secretive probe into misconduct by the BPD.

All around me, wild applause broke out in the city council chamber. Members of Sergeant Gunn’s family and their supporters, which included a larger number of Burbank police officers, filled the seats and lined the walls of the chamber. Many of the Gunn supporters still carried the candles that were used earlier in the evening at a vigil for the veteran Burbank police officer.


Photos: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove —Gunn supporters walked from the vigil at Burbank Police and Fire Headquarters to city hall for the city council meeting. 

On October 29, the body of 50-year-old Burbank Police Sergeant Neil Thomas Gunn, Senior was discovered beneath a cluster of trees, near the De Bell Golf course at the intersection of Sunset Canyon Drive and Harvard Road. According to a Burbank Police/Burbank City press release, Gunn died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove —Sunset Canyon Drive and Harvard Road.

Rumors about Sgt. Gunn’s death have been flying fast and furious around Burbank for days. Gunn was reportedly one of the officers named in that FBI investigation. In a news advisory, a newspaper interview, and at a news conference on the steps of city hall Tuesday night, Gunn family members claimed the police officer’s suicide was a result of “the treatment” he received from the Burbank Police Department.

“My brother was a victim of retaliation for defending officers who had been wrongly accused…” charged Chris Topolovich who spoke for the family at the news conference. Sources say documents or notes left behind by Sgt. Gunn leveled an accusing finger at Chief Stehr. Topolovich ended his remarks to the media by pleading for “.. no more dead bodies in the city of Burbank.”

Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove — After the news conference, a distraught Chris Topolovich is comforted under the glare of media lights by Gunn’s son, Neil Gunn Junior.

Councilman Gordon characterized the situation in the BPD as a “health and safety” issue and told his colleagues “we cannot close our eyes” to the problem. However, close their eyes is exactly what the four other council members did. How could they be in that position, live in this city, and not see and hear what is going on?

Reinke ranted she did not “…have enough facts” to consider “discharging” the police chief. Interesting, Gordon never used the word “discharge” or anything close to fire. He said “administrative leave.” Several Burbank police officers, whose guilt or innocence has not been determined, are on administrative leave. Topolovich confirmed during the news conference that Sgt. Gunn had been on administrative leave as well.

 Councilman Jess Talamantes said “I don’t have all the facts” and described the matter with the police chief as merely”… a personnel issue.” Talking about missing the magnitude of the situation. 

Mayor/Councilman Gary Bric joined with Talamantes and Reinke in saying he too was in the dark. Gee, now didn’t the mayor read that controversial statement on September 29, 2009 (supported by all of the council members) that claimed to be in the know about the lawsuits, investigations, and problems in the BPD.

 Mayor Bric said:”There have been a number of lawsuits and claims filed that contain multiple allegations of improper conduct ranging from wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation to abuse of force and various forms of covering up such activities. These are all very serious allegations and I think it is clear to everyone that the police department is facing some major challenges. All of these allegations have arisen from sources within the department or from former members of the department.”

Also, Bric stated: “While we know the entire community is disappointed to know that there are issues within the police department, please rest assured that the City Council is taking every step possible to make sure all of the issues are identified and that steps are taken to make sure that any problems that are identified are dealt with in a manner that insures they are never repeated. This may mean some severe consequences for any persons involved in misconduct, but we believe the integrity of our police department is extremely important to this community and is our paramount concern.”

And then Councilman Dave Golonski accused Gordon of “grandstanding” and said, “I don’t believe there is an emergency.” Golonski’s comments and those of some of the other council members were greeted with jeers and hisses from the audience.

A frustrated Burbank resident tried to convince the council members of the seriousness of the situation by shouting, “It happened near my house!” in reference to the Sgt. Gunn tragedy. Well, when the homeowner would not be silenced the mayor ordered him removed from the chamber. Instead, the man got up and stormed out. Gordon’s motion died when it did not receive one vote from his fellow council members. However, the issue is still very much alive.

It’s time for serious change in Burbank.  At the top of the list, Police Chief Tim Stehr needs to step aside or be put on administrative leave for the good of the department, the city, and the citizens of  Burbank.

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14 Responses to Time for serious change in Burbank

  1. Silverstreak Friday, November 6, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    I was in attendance at Burbank City Hall on Tuesday night. Mz Renkie called the crowd a circus. Mayor Gary Bric thought it was good to have Glendale Police on our streets. David Golonski took offense that there could be a crisis under his leadership and Jess Talamantes sat there like he was confused where he was.

    What they showed is exactly why we have the problems we do. All of it falls at their feet. They have lacked the integrity or the valor to step up to the plate and take any actions what so ever.

    I sat and watched them deny the obvious and thought these are the last people I want to see as the leaders of this city in a crisis.

    Yea I know Mz Reinkie, what crisis right ?

  2. Rafe Friday, November 6, 2009 at 8:28 pm #

    Gordon’s motion died when it did not receive one vote from his fellow council members. However, the issue is still very much alive.

    They should put this motion to a vote of the citizens and watch how fast the police chief is gone, gone, gone.

  3. Gone Nuts Friday, November 6, 2009 at 9:14 pm #


    Thanks as always for excellent reporting. Side by side facts for all to read. Bric lied to us all that night. Reinke referred to it all as “Vigilanteism”!!!

    When Bric was confronted with signatures from the BPOA after he said “I need to speak with the BPOA” he just went dumbfounded.

    I am glad people finally witnessed this city concil and all their wisdom. Golonski…I can’t even describe this guy without getting banned from this blog.

    Just for the record, there was at least 40 officers there, but they were not allowed to wear their uniforms for that very reason. I also noticed an African American ex Burbank officer named Vee Jones. I heard that she left the department over a year ago and she has some interesting comments about “racism”. She now is happy at another department. I wonder how they will discredit her during testimony? Juli Scott good luck!

    I sure hope some of these people go to jail.

  4. DixieFlyer Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 6:40 am #

    The story in the LEADER about the Civil Service Board was intriguing.
    Has Big Judi been trying to boss around the Board, again?
    Word has it that the Board majority (3) didn’t fall for the “hard sell”, disrespectful tone and flat out defiance voiced to them by staff.
    Big Judi even confirmed her published remarks in the paper–then, after the vote went against her recommendation, retorted that she was ready to recommend that the chief change the action requested to get around the Board’s jurisdiction. She, reportedly, indicated words to the effect that the City Attorney’s office had already discussed it with her.
    What’s with the “nobody can do the job–but ARMEN” position of Tim Stehr?
    The stories of who and whom are working on which project may explain in large part why the troops are having so much trouble with the EXPENSIVE computer mess.

  5. Shocked Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    Thank you, Fronnie, for your excellent report on the events that occurred last Tuesday night at City Hall. I watched the entire meeting and it was obvious Golonski, Reinke, Bric and Telamantes are more concerned about having a discussion about the welfare of trees in Burbank than public safety and health. The lack of compassion demonstrated to the police officers and family of Sgt. Gunn was only surpassed by their anger at Councilman Gordon for daring to bring up the issue of having an urgent discussion on whether or not to instruct City Manager Mike Flad to place Chief Tim Stehr on paid administrative leave until the allegations and investigations concerning his department are completed.

    The remarks made individually were nothing short of frightening. Reinke and Telamantes went out of their way to be insulting to the police officers and family by their remarks. I nearly fell off my chair when Reinke called Tuesday night a 3-ring circus. Her remarks were disgraceful. At the end of the meeting when she apologized, her anger was just below the surface because she was still so angry that Dr. Gordon had the courage to bring up the subject. Telamantes finally showed his lack of support for the men and women he worked along side during his years in the Fire Department. VERY Sad! As expected Golonski attacked Dr. Gordon despite the fact that Gordon brought up what people have been asking for. Bric is obviously in tight with some if not all of the police command and carried on as well. If the only thing that matters to them is “process” then that only confirms what many have witnessed for years — the staff runs the City and unless the staff approves an agenda item, the Council is completely helpless and without authority to run the City.

    All this behavior leads one to ask some questions:

    – Why has the City Manager not placed the Chief on administrative leave since it is standard procedure to place officers and others on leave during an investigation?
    – How did everything get so out of control that so many police officers have filed lawsuits against the City?
    – How much has it cost so far? the investigations, the lawyers? how many lawyers are working on all these cases?
    – Why would there be a gag order placed on employees?
    – Why are police officers told that if they wore their uniforms to the candlelight vigil and city hall out of respect for Sgt. Gunn last Tuesday night they would be disciplined?
    – Why were the names of 12 police officers published in the newspaper yet we as many as 30 subpoenas have been issued?
    – Why was one officer’s personnel file turned over to the newspaper?
    – Why are so many officers out on administrative or sick leave?
    – Have files been stolen within the police department?
    – Why has the individual who is alleged to have murdered Officer Pavelka at least 5 years ago never had a trial?
    – Why has there been abusive legal tactics and intimidation used against residents and employees for many years?
    – What in the world are they covering up?

    It appears the City needs oversight in many areas at this moment in time starting with the command in the police department.

  6. Jay Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 4:01 pm #

    What we need is a real Mayor and a real Vice Mayor who have a brain and are capable of thinking. Bric and Ranke what a team of fools. Grab a book and read about Nero and the fall of Rome. History is repeating itself with this foolish duo in charge of Burbank. One day there might just be a movie about Bric and Ranke it will be a horror ofcourse.

  7. Fronnie Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

    Silverstreak, Rafe and Jay, Gone Nuts, and Shocked,

    City council members Bric, Reinke, Golonski, and Talamantes seemed quite upset with Dr. Gordon for bringing up the idea of putting the police chief on administrative leave. I wonder if they would have considered the idea if it had come from someone other than Gordon.

    Also, I agree, the council actions on Tuesday night have prompted more questions and concerns. Commenters here have come up with a number of them.


    The civil service controversy is another interesting story that again involves the Burbank Police Department.

    Oh,and thanks for the blog story compliments.

  8. Gonzalez Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    Fronnie Lewis

    I don’t think it matters where the idea came from. After all look at how many people have said do something and they sit on their thumbs and look right into the camera while they say what problem are you talking about. I don’t buy they are ignorant I believe they are busy hiding everything and covering everything up.

  9. Fronnie Sunday, November 8, 2009 at 8:47 pm #


    Part of a cover-up. I’m hearing that more and more when people try to explain the actions of the Burbank City Council or the lack of action by those city officials.

  10. Mel Monday, November 9, 2009 at 1:35 am #

    Why don’t the cops ticket the millions of vehicles in California with no front license plate when hundreds of millions of dollars would be collected in fines? What about all the junk cars on front lawns, dripping gas and oil onto the dry, dead grass, so it is a fire hazard. What about all the people who store basketball hoops in the street and who play basketball all day long in the street with their kids and grandkids. Why are the lights on the ball fields all day and all night using billions of watts of energy when no one is on the field and why would they be on all day, too, with the sun shining. What about all the mobbing and gangstalking going on. Lookup gangstalking on the internet and see what it is all about and who is doing it.

  11. Can't Sleep Monday, November 9, 2009 at 3:12 am #

    Why do people say their is a cover up. The City brings in the Sheriffs Department, brings in out side Counsel and investigator to do an Internal Investigation, the Mayor at a City Council Meeting explains what is taking place, and this is a cover up, wow. Common sense tells me that until all the investigation are conducted and reviewed, how can anybody point fingers as to who knows what. Reading the comments of the majority of the folks on this blog tells me common sense doesn’t always prevail. Saddened to hear of the death of Mr. Gunn, my condolences to his family and he is in my prayers.

  12. Incognito Monday, November 9, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    Can’t Sleep, sorry that you have not kept up with the real comings & goings of this city. If you would have been present at the Council Meeting on the 3rd, you would have experienced 1st hand the level of Incompetency we are facing. When 4 of the 5 tell you “What problem, you are Grandstanding, etc”? It only help to bring to light that they really don’t give to S***s about the situation and they will continue to run this community into the grown, because they will not answer to the citizen who unfortunately pay for these massive expenses.

    Shocked – you rock! I could have not articulated any better. I thought we might have fresh blood at the council, but that quickly proved to have failed.

    5 people and only one see’s a problem, after 8 lawsuits, 3 investigations, numerous complaints and hands full of officers on administrative leave. I don’t know, about the people questioning this, but it would put major RED Flags up. Ask yourselves if the city was being run so well, why do we have these problems and so many unhappy people?

    A vote of NO confidence from the community to the council members and everyone else we pay salaries to, should be immediately implemented, so that you can see how quickly things will change in this town.

    Really enough, is enough. To have people killing themselves over this madness, should give us a clue of how ruthless it has become and as a citizen of this town, it scares the heck out of me.

    Thank you, Fronnie for helping keep the truth alive and providing much needed information.

    Pray for the Sgt. Gunn regardless of your personal thoughts, his family is in pain and he needs to rest in peace.l

    Pray for the healing of this dept and the community as a whole.

    President Abe Lincoln said ” A house divided, can not stand”.

  13. DixieFlyer Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 2:14 am #

    Checkout the phony toilet paper press release put out announcing Tim STEHR’s retirement plans.
    This was not reassuring to any sane person.

  14. blackjack Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 2:38 am #

    Ms. Reinke and her clown friends need to go elsewhere. As I’ve noticed, the city is ran by many family members. Check out Ms Reinke, she has people in Human Resouces working there (Ericka Reinke). The two are a pair of Hippocrates, who claim they want to do the best for the city and employees, but are only looking out for their own interests and trying to keep their paychecks rolling. They share employees cofidential files with other as they see fit, when it’s violating the law. Check it out yourselves, people in the Attorney’s office have high ranking relatives working in the BPD. The same is true where you pay for parking tickets… the person who gives parking tickets is sisters with the department supervisor who takes your money and tells you the ticket cannot be contestes. When a ticket is contested, the employee (Brenda) tells the commissioner how to rule on the contested ticket… Where is the fairness; it’s all conflict of interest? Not to mention that some commissiioners are given that job only because they’ve worked for BPD in the past… again, where is the fairness and justice. They are all covering up for eachother and they Know IT! I say clean house and don’t allow relatives working in departments where there can be conflict of interest. They are all lazy employees that are protected by their unions…GANG STALKERS is correct.

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