Following the Leader

a lineup of updates and tidbits Burbank and beyond

Archive for the ‘Commissions and Task Forces’ Category

Sustainable task force to talk water trip, public outreach

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San Luis Reservoir (Credit: Creative Commons)

San Luis Reservoir (Credit: Creative Commons)

The Sustainable Burbank Task Force, flying somewhat below the radar, will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Police and Fire Community Room, 200 N. Third Street.

The task force is scheduled to select two of its own to travel to Northern California Oct. 24 and 25 for the Metropolitan Water District-sponsored education tour of State Water Project facilities and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The city has been allotted 10 spaces; two have been reserved for the task force.

The district implores each of its directors to sponsor inspection trips to provide leaders with firsthand knowledge of its operations. It remains to be seen how many City Council members will be permitted to attend after the tour cancellation May 2 and 3. Read the rest of this entry »

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Judge upholds John Brady’s probation

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CITY CENTER A judge Tuesday denied a motion to terminate the final 11 months of unsupervised probation for deposed Police Commissioner John Brady, despite glowing letters from city leaders and arguments that he’d suffered enough punishment.

Brady, a well-known civil rights activist and president of the Burbank Human Relations Council, was stripped of his Police Commission membership last month over revelation that he is on unsupervised probation through June 2010 for a drunk-driving offense. It was his second attempt this month at having his probation terminated.

Judge Carlos Velarde ruled Brady must wait 90 days to resubmit his request, taking him out of the running to fill his old position on the police commission. The city clerk’s office is accepting applications through Friday.

“The one thing that upsets me is that if you have a DUI you can be mayor of the city of Burbank or even president of the United States of America, but not volunteer to serve on a small-town police commission,” said David D. Diamond, Brady’s attorney.

Assistant City Atty. Denny Wei argued that little has changed since July 2 when a judge refused to grant the request. He pointed to the seriousness of driving under the influence as well as complications with showing special treatment to noted civic leaders.

Information about the former commissioner’s background was provided to the council in a confidential memo from City Atty. Dennis Barlow after Police Chief Tim Stehr said he learned of the arrest from police officers. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Christopher Cadelago

July 29, 2009 at 12:14 am

Police Commission, Public. Public, Police Commission

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CITY CENTER — A newly reorganized Police Commission on Wednesday voted 4 to 1 to move its meetings from quarterly to monthly in response to repeated charges by the public that the oversight body is ineffective and serves as little more than a mutual admiration club.

City regulations stipulate that the commission hold meetings in June, September, December and March, or at the behest of the City Council, which appoints members to the body.

But given the barrage of denigration from the public, Commissioner Elise Stearns-Niesen suggested a more rigorous calendar in keeping with most other city commissions.

“I think that the public perception now is we don’t do anything,” she said. “And in certain respects, meeting every four months, we don’t. It feels like we are floundering a bit.”

Commissioner Claudia Bonis, who cast the lone dissenting vote, disagreed, alluding to a 45-minute discussion between the commission and Chief Assistant City Atty. Juli Scott in which members were briefed on portions of the Brown Act, Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights and the city charter.

The commission has the power to initiate studies, conduct hearings and investigations at the request of council, make recommendations and field non-traffic related complaints, Scott said.

The commission may also examine Police Department records and accounts, other than confidential matters under investigation.

“I am not for changing the status at this time,” Bonis said. “I don’t feel it necessary.”

Visit the Burbank Leader for the rest of the story.

CITY CENTER — A newly reorganized Police Commission on Wednesday voted 4 to 1 to move its meetings from quarterly to monthly in response to repeated charges by the public that the oversight body is ineffective and serves as little more than a mutual admiration club.
City regulations stipulate that the commission hold meetings in June, September, December and March, or at the behest of the City Council, which appoints members to the body.
But given the barrage of denigration from the public, Commissioner Elise Stearns-Niesen suggested a more rigorous calendar in keeping with most other city commissions.
“I think that the public perception now is we don’t do anything,” she said. “And in certain respects, meeting every four months, we don’t. It feels like we are floundering a bit.”
Commissioner Claudia Bonis, who cast the lone dissenting vote, disagreed, with the assessment, alluding to a 45-minute discussion between the commission and Chief Assistant City Atty. Juli Scott in which members were briefed on portions of the Ralph M. Brown Act, Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights and the city charter. as well as limitations set forth in the Charter.
The commission has the power to initiate studies, and surveys, conduct hearings and investigations at the request of council, make recommendations act in an advisory capacity to the council and field non-traffic related complaints, Scott said.
“For example, if you thought that maybe a different kind of leash law is needed,” she said. “Or maybe we need stronger rules regarding drinking in the parks.”
The commission may also examine Police Department books, papers, records and accounts, other than confidential matters under investigation.
“I am not for changing the status at this time,” Bonis said. “I don’t feel it necessary.”
But her colleagues disagreed, referencing confirmed investigations into the Burbank Police Department by outside law enforcement agencies and a recent discrimination lawsuit filed by a lieutenant and four officers.
“A lot of community members are coming up and saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’” Chairman Bob Frutos said. “People are accusing us of not doing our jobs and I don’t want any more misconceptions that the commission isn’t doing what it needs to do.”
While the meetings serve as a forum for public grievances, investigations involving personnel must be kept confidential, even from commissioners, Scott said.
“You have no more authority over them than the public does,” she said. “You have no special ability to know what’s going on.”
Scott also provided commissioners with a primer on the Brown Act, commonly referred to as the state’s open-meeting law. The briefing came nearly two months after then-Chairman Joe Gunn sent an e-mail to fellow commissioners imploring them to refrain from asking City Council members and the city manager about an investigation.
Bonis replied electronically to everyone on the e-mail list, assuring an electronic reply-to-all, assured colleagues that she was not asking questions of city officials.
“You are not allowed to try to develop any kind of collective concurrent amongst yourselves anywhere except at the meeting,” Scott said, adding that “So phone calls, e-mails are were “very, very dangerous.”
Gunn’s now-infamous e-mail, first introduced by activist Mike Nolan, prompted Councilman Dave Golonski to request that the City Council consider an unprecedented revote because the original appointments had been made “without complete and accurate information.”
Prior to the meeting, City Atty. Dennis Barlow informed council members in a confidential memo that newly sworn Commissioner John Brady was on unsupervised probation through June 2010.
Ousted as a newly sworn police commissioner by the council on June 16 after it became known that he was serving unsupervised probation for a drunk driving conviction, John Brady on Wednesday became the first member of the public to address the commission in more than two years, according to city records. In his five-minute speech, part pep-talk, part cautionary tale, Brady advised each commissioner to request city policies in writing rather than relying solely on oral advice.
“You,” he said, pointing at Scott, Police Chief Tim Stehr and his command staff, “do not work for them. You do not represent the police. You do not represent the city of Burbank as a corporate charter city.
“You represent you as a distinct entity and I wish you the best of luck.”
Vice Chairman Nat Rubinfeld was absent from the meeting. The city clerk’s office will be accepting applications for Brady’s vacancy on the commission through the end of the month.
City activist Mike Nolan followed Brady’s speech by repeating a series of public record requests he made to the council last month.
“How many hands and toes does it take to count up the number of lawyers, the number of law firms, the number of investigators, the number of officers under investigation?” he asked.

Written by Christopher Cadelago

July 16, 2009 at 8:00 am