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Burbank Viewpoints

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

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Semichorus nails it on QS

It was never designed to help students.
https://semichorus.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/independent-hardly-and-it-wont-mean-extra-money-for-our-kids/

No on Measures P & QS (LINK)

CLICK HERE for a well-reasoned argument against our local tax hike Measures by the I Luv Burbank folks. Here’s a highlight:

The City has basically cut-&-paste their Ballot language from Measure T and will no doubt engage in a similar “fear-based” campaign threatening Service Cuts if this massive Sales Tax Hike doesn’t pass. 

And CLICK HERE to read arguments against Measure QS: What it boils down to is giving teachers a raise on the backs of homeowners who already pay plenty of state taxes to fund education! Instead of passing a measure that will ultimately raise rents and not pay for any additional infrastructure – take this up with your local representatives and get some changes at the state level. Measure QS is a band-aid approach that will not benefit students in any measurable way. Finally, the BTA’s tactics during contract negotiations earlier this year were completely unprofessional and damaging to students. I won’t reward them by supporting this measure. 

The Tax places an unfair burden on Burbank Property Owners & Renters who are still paying for previous School Bonds (until 2032), while approx. 1300 Students who live outside the district pay nothing. Businesses with larger footprints are also disproportionally hit.

Measure P and QS (opinion)

I’m not ready to weigh in personally on these measures but I agree with Mike and Roy that our current city government uses scare tactics to get what they want.  This time homeowners and people who do business in Burbank are being asked to pay for expensive salaries for city employees (among other mis-guided spending priorities.) PLEASE research this before you vote. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhFA-w6qmp0&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=MikeandRoy

Household Hazardous Waste Roundup

Saturday only! This is a great way to make sure dangerous chemicals are safely disposed of. I do this every year. Please consider participating. More info here.

Roy’s Run through Death Valley

I hope you’ll join me in donating to Lifewater in honor of Roy’s Run. Roy Wiegand has been a community activist in Burbank for many years. For the past few years he’s conducted a fund raising marathon for various charities. This time Roy is braving the scorching heat of Death Valley in a 135 mile one man marathon! More info here: https://give.lifewater.org/fundraiser/1510686

No on Measure V (video)

New research on Measures T, V and Y

Why does the city need to hire a PR firm for a ‘free and open’ election?

I’m cut ‘n pasting from Jim Casey’s Facebook post. Jim runs Preserve Burbank. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude for asking important questions.

Here is the email reply I received today after my inquiry into the PR company hired by the City of Burbank for our upcoming ballot measures (and I’m pretty sure for the push to increase our city sales tax in November). I hope you’re sitting down…

Dear Mr. Casey,
I was forwarded your email from the City Council concerning your questions about the hiring of our educational, outreach consultant, Cerrell. I’ve included the answers to your question as listed below.

1. Who authorized the hiring of an outside PR firm to promote these measures? On March 6, 2018, during the mid-year budget adjustment, the City Council approved the hiring of Cerrell “to have a professional communications firm (Cerrell Associates) conduct a robust public education and outreach program to provide residents with information on the potential November 2018 ballot measure and demonstrate the importance of dedicated local funding and the seriousness of the city’s fiscal situation.” To prepare for the November election, Cerrell has also been helping city staff with the June measures to ensure that Burbank residents are informed and educated regarding the facts. Cerrell was selected after a competitive bidding process was conducted.

2. How much is this firm being paid? The cost of the contract is $175,000 which includes hard costs. The majority of this is used for materials. Cerrell’s fees total $76,000 for work being conducted between March and November.

3. What scripts are being used to answer questions? The information being shared with the Burbank public is presented on the website, burbankelections.com. Here you will find current information regarding the June measures, questions and answers and the PowerPoint presentation used for public outreach and educational meetings.

4. Who wrote these scripts? The educational materials were written by both Cerrell and City staff. All have been reviewed by the City Attorney to ensure compliance with the law to provide factual information that does not persuade or influence.

5. What phone list was provided to this firm for contacting members of the community? The phone list being used to conduct outreach includes a diverse range of stakeholders groups within the City of Burbank. It is attached.

6. Who provided this list? The list was developed by city staff with the help of Cerrell and encompasses a wide range of groups.

Thank you,
Simone

Simone McFarland
Asst. Community Development Director
Business & Economic Development
Communications Manager/Public Information Officer
City of Burbank

___________________________________________

I replied with the following questions that I imagine will not be answered until next week:

Simone,
Thank you for your prompt and informative reply to my email.

I have a few additional questions.

1. What specifically does “materials” mean as included in the “hard costs?” Does this include the Supplemental Voter Information booklets and postage? Can you include a breakdown of how this money is spent?

2. What outreach or public questions would need to be answered for measures that have no published “Arguments Against?” What is being told to callers who ask about this? Can you tell me what possible arguments there might be against these measures? I can’t seem to find any, anywhere.

3. How were “Arguments Against” solicited? How much public outreach time and money was spent to consider alternatives to the proposed measures?

______________

I’ll let you all know what I hear back.
Jim Casey

Why I am Voting NO on Y [UPDATED]

[UPDATE: I based my research below on some out of date numbers from a prior city council meeting presentation. I just learned about the error and wanted to make this correction to the post. The revised numbers would not cost the school district millions per election but still hundreds of thousands of dollars each cycle. More exact numbers aren’t possible to calculate because they are based on a number of factors. For example, how many candidates file for how many seats. The current estimates hover around $150,000 per election. Certainly not millions of dollars, unless you add them up over the years. I apologize for the error. However, this doesn’t change my position at all. The Council still wants to offload the election costs they’ve alway covered. Which will take away valuable resources from the district and will ultimately hurt students.]

I’ve followed and researched this issue and will be posting a bit more in the coming days on the other local measures on the June 5th ballot. But this one is a no brainer. 

The State of California is forcing smaller cities with poor voter participation to move their elections times to align with statewide elections. That’s a noble effort that makes a lot of sense on its face. But there’s a catch: This is going to cost the Burbank Unified School District millions hundreds of thousands of dollars each election, by forcing them to pay for the cost of county elections!

You see, the city has long wanted to offload the expense of school board elections onto the BUSD. Currently, the City administers and handles the school board elections. The cost for these elections is small compared to County-run elections. Moving school board elections to align with statewide elections will put an expensive burden on our school district. Guess who will get hurt by this?

You’ll notice no one from the school board stepped up to write an argument in favor of voting yes on Y. They are between a rock and a hard place. Urging voters to mark yes will cost them millions. Urging a no vote suggests “We hate Democracy!” It’s a sticky situation. As I have come to learn in my research, the repercussions of voting No on Y and thereby sticking with our current system, are not very serious. Literally, the worst thing that could happen if Y doesn’t pass, is that a judge could force us to comply one day.

Why should we burden our school district? It’s an expensive strategy that will ultimately hurt students.

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