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Burbank Viewpoints

Burbank, California – Information and opinion on the most crucial issues facing our city.

Call to Action! Misuse of Public Funds for Campaigns

Help the FPPC

UPDATED with Paul Hertzberg’s contact info below! The misuse of public funds for campaigns is rampant up and down the state. Currently, the Fair Political Practices Commission has very limited jurisdiction over this abuse. To make things worse, the State Attorney General and District Attorneys have not prosecuted any of these cases in recent years. You can read more about this in this Los Angeles Times article. And you can catch up on the abuse that occurred right here in Burbank here.

No matter what your political affiliation, voters should be deeply concerned about this lack of enforcement of our campaign financing laws. 

The good news is you can help end this right now! Please call or write our Assembly Member, Laura Friedman and our State Senator, Anthony Portantino. (LINKS BELOW) Here’s a sample you can cut and paste or use as a guide when you call:

Because of your prior efforts for greater transparency in our elections, I am asking you to sponsor or co-sponsor legislation that will give more power to the Fair Political Practices Commission to prevent the misuse of taxpayer dollars in elections. This practice is tainting elections all across our state. The abuse is not being prosecuted by the Attorney General and local District Attorneys. Giving the FPPC the power to hold public officials and agencies accountable is a crucial step in protecting the integrity of our elections. Thank you for your time.

If you want to see my entire letter click here.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION! It’s up to us.

Email Assemblymember Laura Friedman here.  Or call her district office (818) 558-3043 or at the capitol (916) 319-2043

Email State Senator Anthony Portantino here. Or call his district office (818) 409-0400 or at the capitol (916) 651-4025

Email State Senator Bob Hertzberg  here. Or call his district office (818) 901-5588 or at the capitol (916) 651-4018

My Letter to Friedman & Portantino

Here’s my letter in support of the Fair Political Practices Commission’s request to state legislators for more power to go after campaign financing abuses that are rampant across the state.

On February 21st the Fair Political Practices Commission reached out to the leadership and members of the Senate and Assembly to request amendments to the Political Reform Act. The FPPC is seeking the authority to bring administrative and civil actions against public agencies and officials who spend public funds on campaign activity. According to the Los Angeles Times, local prosecutors across the state and the Attorney General have not prosecuted any of these cases in recent memory. Furthermore, the FPPC’s ability to punish these types of violations is severely limited.

This type of abuse occurred in Burbank during the 2016 election, when city employees issued a $50,000 donation to the Committee for Yes on Measure B through the Burbank Hospitality Association. The BHA is a tourism business improvement district with at least one high ranking city employee serving on its board. Per the Los Angeles District Attorney, this transaction violated the Brown Act and resulted in FPPC fines of $16,500. The vote for Measure B was directly influenced by the misuse of public funds in a transaction that the Burbank City Attorney admitted “should not have been made.”

Because of your prior efforts for greater transparency in our elections, I am asking you to sponsor or co-sponsor legislation that will give more power to the FPPC to prevent the misuse of taxpayer dollars in elections. This practice is tainting elections all across our state. The abuse is not being prosecuted and is not going away. Giving the FPPC the power to hold public officials and agencies accountable is a crucial step in protecting the integrity of our elections.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to your response.

The “50k” Story comes to a close

The long story of the “50k” is finally over. I filed the complaint with the FPPC back in December of 2016 after collating research data from my partners Greg Sousa and Amanda Biers-Melcher. The good news is, we did it! On Thursday, February 21st, the Fair Political Practice Commission approved a stipulation agreement against the Committee for Yes on Measure B in the amount of $11,500. In June of last year, the Commission also fined The Burbank Hospitality Association $5,000 for their role in “the 50k” story. Overall, the parties involved were fined a total of $16,500 for reporting violations of the Political Reform Act. You can watch my presentation here.

It’s important to understand just what the FPPC does. Among many other facets, the Commission enforces the reporting rules laid out in the Political Reform Act. In a nutshell, if you are running a political campaign you must report the money you have raised and spent in very specific ways. So this action taken on Thursday only had to do with reporting violations related to this case. Unfortunately, any criminal allegations are the purview of the District Attorney of Los Angeles and the California Attorney General.

Sadly, although the LADA did rule that the BHA violated the Brown Act there was no recourse we could take. Also, the LADA decided there was no misuse of public fund in our complaints.

That said, at the hearing some of the Commissioners went on record disagreeing with our District Attorney’s findings. Commissioner Hayward had strong words on the DA’s decision.

Commissioners Hatch and Cardenas had encouraging words during and after the hearing as well. But because of the way this process works, there are limits to what the FPPC can do with this type of complaint. However, thanks to our case and many others over recent years things might change. A recent LA Times article explains this better than I can. In the coming days I am going to ask you to help make things better. All it will take are a couple of phone calls and letter to our elections in Sacramento.

But for now, we did it! More to come soon!

Thanks to Semichorus for helping with research on my statement tp the FPPC!

New Mike and Roy for 2019

1st Amendment Dying in Burbank

Aren’t you getting tired of this? It was bad enough when the City Staff and Council cancelled three local elections unnecessarily. This, after limiting public speaking time at council meetings to a paltry three minutes. Now the city staff are targeting two residents who’ve been expressing their viewpoints on the Mike and Roy Show. In a new staff report the City Manager is asking the Council to further limit public speaking (through the use of digital media) with new restrictions and gotchas in the fine print of the proposed new rules. Not everyone loves the Mike and Roy Show or the views expressed therein, but every citizen should beware of these new rules. Regardless of who the intended target is – this affects all of us. The new proposals are unfair, un-democratic and likely illegal. I for one, will join Mike and Roy in a lawsuit to fight this. And ironically, the City Manager and the Mayor are giving the duo more attention than they’ve ever had before. Tonight’s Council Meeting should be fun!  Read more at Semichorus here.

QS failed, now get to work!

It was a flawed solution for many reasons. But now we should unite as a community and roll up our sleeves to figure out a long term solution to our pension and salary issues. QS was NEVER really about students. It was about pensions and there are other solutions we can explore.

If we want our schools fully funded we HAVE to put real and uncomfortable pressure on our elected officials from this point forward. They should work for this every single day. The Teacher’s Unions and dedicated citizens can hold them accountable. Of course, this is unlikely to happen but I will be happy to join in once all the gnashing of teeth ends from angry QS supporters.

Here’s our state senator’s webpage. His name is Anthony Portantino. https://sd25.senate.ca.gov/

Here’s Assembly member Laura Friedman’s page: https://a43.asmdc.org/

Dr. Gordon on Measure P

I miss this guy!

Measure P means YOU pay for bloated city salaries

Sue Cleereman lays out one of the biggest problems facing Burbank today. A City Council crying poor while approving massive salary increases over the past 6 years.  Measure P really means residents pay for their salaries and pensions. It’s that simple. Later in the video Vice Mayor Springer says: “We’re being as honest as we can be.” But to me, not honest enough. If the video does’t begin with a piechart you can find the presentation at 1 hour and 17 minutes and 42 seconds into the video.

Mike and Roy – No on P in depth

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