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Burbank Viewpoints

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

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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 episodes of Mike & Roy show

Burbank for Quiet Skies

Burbank resident Audrey Geiger-Ford has been collecting noise data from the FAA and Hollywood Burbank airport for months. Her findings that airlines are flying planes closer to homes and schools in the flightpath has set off some alarms in the neighborhood near the airport. Add to this that flight paths have absolutely changed and that this could affect more Burbankers than ever before. Also at least one carrier is ignoring the voluntary curfew. This is an ongoing story and there’s much more to report but I wanted to post some resources for readers to check out as soon as I had them.

First up a couple of quick news bits from KFI.

“A highway right on top on our heads.” October 24th

“She has the numbers…” October 25th

Burbank for Quiet Skies can be found on Twitter and on Facebook (it’s a moderated group but easy to join.)

Direct download links of the KFI audio here:

Audrey_KFI_Oct_24_2017

Audrey_KFI_Oct_25_2017

Goodbye, Burbank.

The author’s children compete in the Buena Vista Library summer reading program’s annual costume contest — July 2010.

Twenty years ago, Burbank was just about the last place I thought I’d live. I was 29, with an unpublished novel under my belt, living in a 5-story walk-up in what was starting to be called the Upper Upper East Side, but was really Spanish Harlem, when my husband was offered a job on the writing staff of a new late night talk show — a job that came with union wages and, better yet, health insurance. When you compared it to selling monologue jokes to Letterman and earning $25 a night for MC-ing at Boston Comedy Club, it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime (and I suppose it was). We jammed everything we owned into a Penske truck and headed to Hollywood.

After a week of driving, listening to the audiotape of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” a friend had given us as a going-away present, and staying in motels so crappy I made sure to keep my shoes on in the bathroom, we wound up in a two-bedroom apartment off Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. After our New York apartment, it seemed ridiculously spacious and downright luxurious, despite the flimsy fixtures and predominance of beige industrial-grade carpet. We had an extra room — I could have my own office! — and it even had a hot tub and a pool. We decided we wouldn’t need a car. We could walk to work. And when it turned out the job wasn’t on the CBS Radford lot but in Television City, we bought an unpretentious Honda (because city people don’t care about what kind of car they drive) and agreed we’d only buy just this one car for commuting to work — because most of the time we’d just walk wherever we wanted to go.

Two years later I was driving my own used Volvo station wagon. We’d had our first child — a daughter — and she’d started to walk. Overnight, our apartment had become a death trap. A balcony? A pool? Why not just hand the baby a razor blade and end the suspense. We needed a house — preferably one with a backyard.

And, one sleep-deprived afternoon — after taking a wrong turn driving back to the apartment from the dirty Target in North Hollywood — I found just the one. It was nestled in a quiet tree-lined neighborhood that looked like something out of a 1960s sitcom. The houses were neat behind perfect squares of green lawn and there were actual children playing in the streets. Our house, a two-bedroom bungalow, had a palm tree in the backyard — a Queen Date Palm apparently — and even an orange tree. We were knocked out. Could you get more “California” than that?

Our realtor had grown up around the block from the place and he knew everyone in town. He walked us through the process and before we knew it we were holding the keys to the house on Evergreen Street where we’d raise our family.

It was 2000.

This was before there was a Costco or an Empire Center or even a big multiplex in the middle of downtown. This was when you could still get from one end of Burbank to the other in less than a half hour. This was when people understood that the Airport Authority was not their friend.

Our neighbors had young children too and they played together, running in and out of each other’s homes even crossing the street to play in each other’s yards (something that seems unthinkable to me now that speeders have discovered our street’s a convenient shortcut when traffic backs up on Burbank Blvd and Hollywood Way). One of our neighbors dressed as Santa at Christmas. On the Fourth of July we had a bike parade down our block with a real live marching band (because one of the dads played the trombone at Disneyland). We knew everyone on the block. Once, when a new family moved in, we held an ice cream social to welcome them and had the kids go door-to-door handing out the invitations they’d made. Another time we found a baby squirrel we named Sweet-Tart and all the neighbor kids delivered her, by wagon, to a squirrel rescue lady who lived a few blocks over.

With my daughter, and later my son, I spent countless hours at the park down the street, and each week we loaded up the bike stroller and pedaled down the Chandler Bike path to the Buena Vista Library for story time. As they got older, they took craft classes and drama classes, gymnastics classes and team sports classes — all offered through Parks and Rec. They swam in the pools, learned to play tennis, learned to play golf, took riding lessons at the Equestrian Center and learned to skate at the Pickwick. They won bags of candy at the annual Glow-Ball tournament at the DeBell Par-3 and held a snake at the Stough Canyon Nature Center. At the week-long camps offered each summer, my son sampled volleyball, football, track, baseball and soccer before turning his attention to golf. They went all-out for the costume contest put on by the library’s summer reading program, where on the last day, you got cupcakes from Martinos if you read enough books.

We were so lucky to land in Burbank. It was a great place to raise a family. And the thing is — I don’t think that was an accident. The people making decisions about Burbank at that time must have realized something I didn’t fully appreciate until recently. Burbank had something special to offer. It was an oasis away from the bustle of Los Angeles. It wasn’t hip like Silver Lake or the Hollywood Hills. It wasn’t fancy like Santa Monica. It wasn’t like Glendale. It wasn’t like anyplace else, really. Burbank was just a sleepy little town where you could come home from work and throw a ball with your son, or sit under the stars and watch your daughter pitch a softball game, or ride your bike to the donut shop on a Sunday morning. It was a place where you could take your kids to MacCambridge to play floor hockey and see seniors swing dancing and enjoying a hot lunch. It was a place where, when you called the fire department because you smelled something funny, they showed up in minutes — and were nice about it when it turned out to be your neighbor’s barbeque.

I wasn’t paying attention — there were dinners to make and baths to give and bedtime stories to read — but it seems to me now that our elected officials, back then, must have known that Burbank was different. And at City Council meetings they must have been doing whatever they could to protect our city and fend off those forces that would try to turn it into something else. They fought hard to keep the airport from expanding, realizing that the additional revenue would come at too great a cost. They must have cared enough about young families like mine to stand up for us and make sure Burbank remained the kind of place where anyone would be lucky to raise a family.

Now, when I see new families moving into my neighborhood, I wonder: will Burbank be that for them? Or will it become just another LA neighborhood surrounded by freeways and dotted by high-rises? Because that is essentially the question our city is facing right now.

And, I know it’s complicated. The finances are different, the money just isn’t there anymore. I get that. But with all this talk of cutting services to balance the budget, of building our way into the black, and with a City Council that votes repeatedly and unanimously to sell our city off to outside developers piece-by-piece — can we expect to retain even a fraction of what makes Burbank Burbank? With that fancy new airport, more flights in and out of Burbank and hundreds of additional hotel rooms about to get green-lit — can we expect our city to remain a place where people live their lives — not a place they pass through on their way to Harry Potter’s Wizarding World?

The problem, it seems to me, is that our elected officials seem to have a very different vision for our city than a lot of us who’ve raised families here. With each new massive development project they rally behind (and there have already been a few rubber-stamped with more in the pipeline), they boast about creating a new Burbank — a modern, 21st-century city designed for a new generation. For my daughter’s generation. Burbank, they tell us, has to change with the times.

They are not entirely wrong. Change is inevitable and we can’t stay rooted in the past. Nobody understands that better than a mother with one child away at college and another retreating behind headphones and a closed bedroom door. But what we need, in my view, is sensible change. Change that recognizes the unique character of our city. Change that puts families first.

As we talk about budget cuts and plans to make Burbank bigger and better, let’s not forget the little things that make our city what it is — a place where kids can play in the streets and the parks, where seniors can get the services they need to lead healthy active lives, and where families feel safe and protected. And let’s make sure we send a message to developers who come here to line their pockets: this is not your playground. This is not an “untapped market.” This is our home.

And I know life is busy — especially for those young families who will be impacted most by what is lost. But now is the time to start paying attention — to start contacting your elected officials, to start going to City Council meetings, to make sure you vote — to remind your neighbors to vote — the next time we have a chance to weigh in on the leadership of our city.

Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe our city can be saved. Maybe — just maybe — we don’t have to say goodbye to Burbank just yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why did the Mayor keep quiet about the $50,000 to Yes on B? [UPDATED]

This image has been retouched and is intended as satire.

UPDATE: The Mayor just announced he has stage 4 liver cancer but curiously, will not step down as a member of the council. This news was leaked already and it’s been a poorly kept secret around town for months. None of us really knew for sure though. I’m sure the Mayor feels a bit better now that he’s revealed his illness. I sincerely wish him and his family the best but that will not change anything I have to post here on the blog regarding the 50k.


If you’ve been following this story you know I’ve always contended that the architects of this illegal donation were the “buddies” of the City Council. Burbank luminaries, mostly from the Chamber of Commerce.  But I was wrong about who the City Council have been protecting this whole time. Public records I received last April suggest that City Manager Ron Davis, Community Development Director Patrick Prescott and Vice-Mayor (at the time) Will Rogers all knew about and discussed this illegal activity BEFORE the November Election. On December 6th when i brought our team’s research to the Council, Will Rogers was insulting and dismissive about the whole affair and confirmed he had known about this and was “disappointed” in the donation. He wasn’t sorry in the slightest. The following week he apologized for “missing” the violation of the Brown Act when reviewing the BHA’s minutes. You have to assume someone (the City Attorney?) told him to change his tone and he certainly did.

Why didn’t the Mayor call out this illegal activity ahead of the election? He clearly knew a violation of the Brown Act had occurred from the very beginning. (see #1 below)

The Semichorus blog broke part of the story back in June but I’ve been patiently waiting for the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Los Angeles District Attorney to rule on the case. At this point, I’m deeply concerned the Los Angeles District Attorney will not take legal action against a sitting city government, even though they did find the BHA had violated the Brown Act. (See #5 below) The FPPC investigation is still ongoing but I have no idea when a ruling will be made.

Will Rogers’ angry letter and Patrick Prescott’s reply. Both forwarded to the City Manager.

I wonder what Patrick told Will in order to calm him down? (see #5 below) For now, I want the public to know what’s going on in City Hall. That’s my motivation. There’s much more to the story and I hope to do a complete video that explains where we are and how we got here. People need to know this stuff or it will just continue. If you or I broke the law we’d have to pay for our actions. You can use the contact page and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have in the meantime.  Or just post a comment below.

You can read more about this illegal use of public funds here and here. Here are additional videos:

Yes the “50k BHA” Board broke the law

A misdemeanor no one will be punished for – but it’s a start and again – we were right. A few months ago we’ve shared further information with the District Attorney that will hopefully prod them to continue their investigation about how this all came about and who was involved.

More to come but here’s the Leader article: http://www.latimes.com/socal/burbank-leader/news/tn-blr-me-bha-donation-20170607-story.html

Now that Rogers is Mayor let’s revisit the naming of Measure B

This was originally posted on the No on Measure B blog last year. Now that Will Rogers is Mayor and there are more people following Burbank Viewpoints I wanted to share this little examination of how the Mayor casually changes his story as it suites him. (Sound familiar?) How ironic is it that Rogers said voters who dared speak out against Measure B were from Trump-land. It’s a cautionary tale. He’ll continue to protect City Staff and mislead people about us “nutballs” who dare to ask questions — but all one has to do is pay attention over time. Eventually he’ll slip up. Restraint isn’t his strong suite. Someone in City Hall or their pals wanted to name the ballot Measure B to invoke the feeling and spirit of the original ballot measure that was designed to protect residents.


New information on how the new Measure B (2016) got it’s unfortunate and misleading name. Councilman Will Rogers, who is very active on Facebook stated:

“I believe the city clerk – who was not here through the earlier battles – simply heard so many references to “Measure B” that she either believed or came to think that would be the best name for the current Measure, too. To my knowledge, there was never any discussion among supporters or opponents about what the title could or should be. We all simply did as Burbank’s election official (the City Clerk) directed us. Those of us who were writing arguments on the measures were told that, on the form where it calls for the measure’s title, we should write ‘Measure B (TBD.)’ “

Let’s parse this out:

“I believe the city clerk – who was not here through the earlier battles – simply heard so many references to “Measure B” that she either believed or came to think that would be the best name for the current Measure, too.”

It looks like it was city staff who arrived at this “in anticipation of the City Council’s direction” per this July 26th Staff Report:

measurebsecure

More from Rogers:

“To my knowledge, there was never any discussion among supporters or opponents about what the title could or should be.”

That’s not what he said on this Facebook comment:

“Personally, I said at the time that I thought “Measure C” would be most appropriate, but who listens to me? But, yes, I’m aware that yet another nutball conspiracy theory has bubbled up around who branded it “Measure B,” and why.”

Ignoring the insult, it’s all confusing and feels a bit deceptive. While it makes sense with all the references to Measure B (2000) there might be a little carelessness involved here but this is A NEW MEASURE.  City staff clearly wanted to name this Measure B for a reason but why not name it Measure C (comes AFTER B – get it?) or Measure T (for Terminal or maybe Traffic.) Someone wanted this new Measure B to invoke the familiar, feel-good measure from 2000. It was one of the most successful votes in Burbank’s history. The fact is the city can submit any name and do so strategically as you’ll see below from this Leader article on Measure S:

measures


Here are images of the original FB posts mentioned above. The posts were made in a closed group so the links above may not work.

NextGen Workshop (censored version)

airport-2400px

I attended the FAA’s NextGen workshop on Monday and was relieved to hear some of my concerns with the new satellite air traffic control system can be put to rest. However, I’m not completely convinced we residents can let our guard down. The FAA is being sued all over the country and they certainly would not answer any questions regarding those complaints. “Sorry we can’t comment due to the current lawsuits” was the standard line and I heard it at least three times. I want to be clear that I believe there will eventually be an increase in the number of flights in and out of the new terminal here in Burbank. The FAA has publically stated air travel is expected to increase by 50% by 2025 (from 2011 levels.) This NextGen video I produced still rings true as far as capacity and an increase in flights. After all, I took the footage directly from the FAA YouTube channel!  But it’s looking like Burbank may be spared a lot of what has plagued other cities.  I certainly hope so and I do feel good about what I heard at the workshop. Anyway on to the good news. Here are some bullet points that outline what I learned at the workshop:

  • The FAA promises flight paths that will affect noise patterns around the airport will not be changed or they will change very little.
  • The FAA agreed takeoffs of large jets to the east are theoretically possible once the old terminal is demolished but there are no plans to do so for the foreseeable future. (see below)
  • NextGen is all about efficiency and safety.  It absolutely makes it possible for more flights in and out of the airport but the FAA doesn’t control this, the airlines and the airport do.
  • NextGen flight paths have only been flown in simulators, none of the paths have been flown by air carriers yet. Nothing has changed according to the FAA.
  • When NextGen is rolled out in the spring, there will be a few weeks of reduced flights to ensure the system is working safely.

So if we take them at their word we have little to worry about. I do believe these folks from the FAA are being honest. Their job is to get people from point to point safely. But here are some concerns I have even after the workshop:

  • The noise studies used to predict any changes were all conducted using computer models and not real data from airports including Burbank. Could this be the reason the FAA is being sued all over the country for noise increases? What did the computer models miss that people on the ground are so angry about?
  • A study was conducted in 2008 with an accompanying report titled “Increasing Airport Capacity Without Increasing Airport Size” that states that NextGen could allow large aircraft to take off to the east in Burbank. (page 9) As I stated above, FAA reps say that is unlikely and “airlines have not asked for it.” Residents should be paying attention for any changes once the old terminal is demolished.
  • If you live under the revised flight paths you may experience a lot more noise as planes will fly in very narrow lines after takeoff. Currently planes are spread out. After NextGen takes effect in the spring the “lanes” will be very precise.
  • FAA reps were adamant that only the airlines and the airport can increase the amount of flights in or out of the airport. I for one believe we will see in an increase as I’ve stated.

capacity

Potential eastward takeoffs and higher rate of departures illustrated:

engine

The Burbank Leader article on the workshop explains how residents who were concerned with the airport are cautiously optimistic about the changes that are coming along with NextGen. I’m one of those people. Glad to hear the flight paths will change very little but also wondering if in a few years we’ll be filing suit against the FAA as so many other cities have done over noise increases. Councilman Will Rogers has gone out of his way to paint myself, this blog and Save Burbank Neighborhoods as “nutball” conspiracy theorists. He’s wrong. Here’s what we were right about:

  • NextGen was never brought up to the public before I started asking questions.
  • NextGen was designed to increase airport capacity nationwide without constructing new runways.
  • The Measure B vote was RUSHED to the ballot in November. We asked for the vote to be moved to a municipal election so we had more time to ask questions.
  • The City Council was asked numerous questions from concerned citizens not affiliated with myself or SBN about NextGen. They remained silent; adding to the sense that something was rotten about the whole thing.
  • We voters have every right to be concerned with modified flight procedures that have resulted in NextGen lawsuits all over the country. The council never spoke up to assuage those fears.

Will Rogers, Emily Gabel-Luddy, Jess Talamantes and Bob Frutos failed us on Measure B. And for a second act, they are protecting their friends from the airport and Chamber of Commerce who misappropriated public money to campaign for a Yes on Measure B vote.

NextGen Workshop

airport-2400px

I attended the FAA’s NextGen workshop on Monday and was relieved to hear some of my concerns with the new satellite air traffic control system can be put to rest. However, I’m not completely convinced we residents can let our guard down. The FAA is being sued all over the country and they certainly would not answer any questions regarding those complaints. “Sorry we can’t comment due to the current lawsuits” was the standard line and I heard it at least three times. I want to be clear that I believe there will eventually be an increase in the number of flights in and out of the new terminal here in Burbank. The FAA has publically stated air travel is expected to increase by 50% by 2025 (from 2011 levels.) This NextGen video I produced still rings true as far as capacity and an increase in flights. After all, I took the footage directly from the FAA YouTube channel!  But it’s looking like Burbank may be spared a lot of what has plagued other cities.  I certainly hope so and I do feel good about what I heard at the workshop. Anyway on to the good news. Here are some bullet points that outline what I learned at the workshop:

  • The FAA promises flight paths that will affect noise patterns around the airport will not be changed or they will change very little.
  • The FAA agreed takeoffs of large jets to the east are theoretically possible once the old terminal is demolished but there are no plans to do so for the foreseeable future. (see below)
  • NextGen is all about efficiency and safety.  It absolutely makes it possible for more flights in and out of the airport but the FAA doesn’t control this, the airlines and the airport do.
  • NextGen flight paths have only been flown in simulators, none of the paths have been flown by air carriers yet. Nothing has changed according to the FAA.
  • When NextGen is rolled out in the spring, there will be a few weeks of reduced flights to ensure the system is working safely.

So if we take them at their word we have little to worry about. I do believe these folks from the FAA are being honest. Their job is to get people from point to point safely. But here are some concerns I have even after the workshop:

  • The noise studies used to predict any changes were all conducted using computer models and not real data from airports including Burbank. Could this be the reason the FAA is being sued all over the country for noise increases? What did the computer models miss that people on the ground are so angry about?
  • A study was conducted in 2008 with an accompanying report titled “Increasing Airport Capacity Without Increasing Airport Size” that states that NextGen could allow large aircraft to take off to the east in Burbank. (page 9) As I stated above, FAA reps say that is unlikely and “airlines have not asked for it.” Residents should be paying attention for any changes once the old terminal is demolished.
  • If you live under the revised flight paths you may experience a lot more noise as planes will fly in very narrow lines after takeoff. Currently planes are spread out. After NextGen takes effect in the spring the “lanes” will be very precise.
  • FAA reps were adamant that only the airlines and the airport can increase the amount of flights in or out of the airport. I for one believe we will see in an increase as I’ve stated.

capacity

Potential eastward takeoffs and higher rate of departures illustrated:

engine

The Burbank Leader article on the workshop explains how residents who were concerned with the airport are cautiously optimistic about the changes that are coming along with NextGen. I’m one of those people. Glad to hear the flight paths will change very little but also wondering if in a few years we’ll be filing suit against the FAA as so many other cities have done over noise increases. Councilman Will Rogers has gone out of his way to paint myself, this blog and Save Burbank Neighborhoods as “nutball” conspiracy theorists. He’s wrong. Here’s what we were right about:

  • NextGen was never brought up to the public before I started asking questions.
  • NextGen was designed to increase airport capacity nationwide without constructing new runways.
  • The Measure B vote was RUSHED to the ballot in November. We asked for the vote to be moved to a municipal election so we had more time to ask questions.
  • The City Council was asked numerous questions from concerned citizens not affiliated with myself or SBN about NextGen. They remained silent; adding to the sense that something was rotten about the whole thing.
  • We voters have every right to be concerned with modified flight procedures that have resulted in NextGen lawsuits all over the country. The council never spoke up to assuage those fears.

Will Rogers, Emily Gabel-Luddy, Jess Talamantes and Bob Frutos failed us on Measure B. And for a second act, they are protecting their friends from the airport and Chamber of Commerce who misappropriated public money to campaign for a Yes on Measure B vote. I want them all voted out.  Let’s start by replacing Bob and Jess in the February primary.

 

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