Daily Archives: March 19, 2012

School to Hold Meeting to Discuss GM Site in Rancho Neighborhood

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This coming Thursday, March 22nd, the Lycee International de Los Angeles (LILA) school will be hosting a community meeting to discuss their proposal to open a private school on the site of the General Motors Training Facility at 1105 Riverside Drive. The proposed school would replace the existing proposal by developer New Urban West to build 50 single family homes on the site.

The meeting will be held Thursday, March 22nd, at 6:30 p.m. at the Buena Vista Library Community Room, located at 300 N. Buena Vista Street.

The meeting was scheduled by, and will be hosted by, the LILA school. This information is being provided only as a courtesy and does not constitute an official public notice. This meeting is not being hosted by the City and does not fulfill any public meeting requirements for the zoning application process. LILA has not submitted an application to the City of Burbank.

City staff will be present at the meeting to answer questions about the City process and zoning requirements. Staff will be there to answer questions only, not to take public input on the project or discuss the merits of the project. This meeting is an opportunity for the public to ask questions and provide feedback to the school as they consider moving forward with their proposal. The City will have an official community meeting to solicit public input at a later time, if and when an application has been filed.

If you have questions about Thursday’s meeting, please contact Michael Forbes at mforbes@ci.burbank.ca.us or 818-238-5250.

City Loses Round One of Police Lawsuits, Jury Awards $1.29 Million

Former Burbank Deputy Police Chief William Taylor won his unlawful termination lawsuit against the City of Burbank and was awarded $1.29 million by a jury.

After learning of the verdict, the City responded with the following statement:

After a lengthy trial, a superior court jury returned a verdict against the City of Burbank in a workplace retaliation lawsuit filed by former Deputy Police Chief William “Bill” Taylor.

From the beginning, the City believed that its actions were justified and in the best interests of the Department and City. Accordingly, the City vigorously defended this case and is disappointed with the decision.

Burbank’s City Attorney, Amy Albano, responded to the decision by stating, “Although the City is obviously disappointed with the decision, we are confident in our position and will be looking at all appropriate options about how to move forward as a result of this decision.”

The City would like to acknowledge the hard work of its legal defense team, in particular attorneys Ron Frank and Linda Savitt.

Looking toward the future, Burbank’s Mayor, Jess Talamantes, stated, “In consultation with the City’s legal team, we will continue to work for the best interest of the community. Ultimately, the City would like to successfully resolve cases like this and move forward in continuing its mission to ensure the public safety and welfare of our citizens.”

This is the first of the lawsuits to be heard filed by officers against the City of Burbank during a time in which a robbery investigation at Porto’s led to allegations of abuse of suspects in the case and then a burglary inside the police department itself was allegedly swept under the table.

Approximately 10 officers have been fired for different reasons after the incident and Taylor’s case is the first to come to a jury.  The City of Burbank has already spent millions of dollars on legal representation and investigations and have yet to release any of their findings to citizens.

A FBI and Sheriffs investigation into the department have also not either been finalized or is so, the report has not been presented to the public.

The amount of lawsuits could increase as members of the police department who were fired two years ago are still awaiting their arbitration hearing that is mandated by the City.  Because there is no provision in the Burbank Police Officers Association contract with the City on how soon after termination a hearing is required, the City has continued to stall on the hearings, leaving the former officers status uncertain.

Rep. Adam Schiff on Preserving Nature Areas and Use of Familial DNA

On 28 February Burbank N Beyond’s John Savageau had the opportunity to interview Representative Adam Schiff from the 29th District, encompassing Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, and surrounding areas, in his Washington D.C. office.  This is the fifth and final article in a series highlighting activities and topics of interest to Burbank.

BurbankNBeyond: Are there any interesting projects you are involved in that would be of interest to readers in Burbank, projects they may not have been exposed to?

Rep. Schiff:  Actually, the most interesting work I do isn’t work I can share with constituents as it’s in the intelligence community.  But some of the other things we’ve been working on for some time, we’d love to have input and output from the residents on, and I’ll give one example.

Some years ago I wrote a bill called “Rim of the Valley  Core Study Act,” which studies the rim of the valley mountains, the Verdugo Mountains, among other mountain ranges, and ask the Department of the Interior, and Department of Agriculture to study should some of those mountain ranges be part of the national park, in this case the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.

That study is going on, and the department is inviting public comment and feedback.  The Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, which I wish had a different name because it makes people think Santa Monica, but it’s the largest urban park in the country, it’s very heavily utilized, and congress had the foresight back in the early 1970s to create that park.

LA is becoming built up, we are encroaching more and more on open space near us, and I’d like to see that we have the same foresight that congress did several decades ago.  We need to try to preserve that open space.  I don’t know how many folks are aware of that study going on, but it could be very important for their future, and their kids – whether they’ll be able to continue to see beautiful mountains, hike up there, maybe spot a mountain lion or other wildlife.

But those who care about open space I would encourage to get in touch with the Department of the Interior and we can help facilitate that, and let them know we care about open space and encourage them to reflect those priorities in their analysis.

BurbankNBeyond:  Any other interesting projects?

Rep. Schiff:  Let me mention one other thing your readers might be interested in.

For many years I’ve done a lot of work in the area of DNA.  To understand the use of DNA to solve cold cases and crime cases.  In the next month or two we’re going to have a ribbon-cutting in Glendale for a regional DNA lab that we got to fund.

That (DNA lab) will be able to serve communities like Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena, which otherwise had to go through the county, and long waits to get DNA evidence back from the labs.

Related, I introduced legislation that I raised with the Attorney General (who) is testifying today, that is to expand the use of what’s called “Familial DNA.” That is a process that is really quite new.

In California we used to find a serial killer you probably read about.  This is somebody who killed people over a two decade span.  He was called the “Grim Sleeper” because there was a long period where police thought he had gone to sleep, and effectively was not in the murder business and re-emerged.

They couldn’t catch him, even though they had ample DNA, of his, from the victims.  But, there was no match in the system because he had never been arrested, or if he had been arrested they never got his DNA.

As a last resort they (police) did a familial search , which means you search for DNA that’s in the database that’s very similar, but not precisely the same.

If you find very similar DNA, you know two things about the person.  You know they are not the culprit, because it’s (the DNA) not identical.  But you also know they (the person providing DNA) may be closely related to the culprit.

And in this case they got a hit on the serial killer’s son who was in the database.  He had a criminal record.  So once they identified a family member of the killer it wasn’t long before they identified the killer.

That case would still be unsolved if they hadn’t used familial DNA.   We were lucky in that case because the son lived in the same state, California.  Because California allows familial search of its database.

The federal government does not allow a familial search of its database.  The federal database is much bigger.  So if the son had been arrested in Nevada, the Grim Sleeper would still be at large.

I have a bill to establish a national protocol so we can do a familial search as a search of last resort.

BurbankNBeyond:  You don’t believe there will be any opposition that would be a violation of an individual’s 4th Amendment rights?

Rep. Schiff:  There may be opposition, and certainly we have to educate people about what Familial DNA is about.  It’s not about arresting family members that are completely innocent in a search for somebody who isn’t.

But it is an important tool that needs to be used carefully, and it may have to have privacy protections in, so that any family member’s DNA is matched, and doesn’t suffer any stigma as a result of their DNA being matched, and protocols for the purging of records after an investigation, and other important steps.

So our legislation will require that states have in place a policy that protects a person’s privacy the same way that we do in California.  California’s only one of a couple states that allow it right now.  But I think California has demonstrated that it can be done appropriately, and with great effect.

I’d like to make sure we have that capacity federally as well.

BurbankNBeyond:  Should residents contact your office to voice their approval or support of that bill?

Rep. Schiff:  I would welcome it, and we have a website at www.house.gov/schiff, and they can email me their thoughts.  We also have a weekly newsletter they can sign up for on the website.  So I’d encourage all the above!