Burbank, You Just Got Played by the Machine

By On January 19, 2012

Burbank considers itself a special place.  It’s citizens will tell you about the ‘small town’ feel of the city, how great the police and fire departments are, how many people actually spend their entire lives here.  This is a place that you are proud to live in.

Burbank is one of 460 cities in the State of California.  Burbank is also one of the most recognizable cities in the state when you think of the two major studios in the city, as well as a major television network.  Night after night, you will hear Jay Leno talk about Burbank and its neighborhoods.  Burbank also boasts a major airport that has a direct connection to the State Capital, Sacramento.  Let’s face it, if you had to guess California Cities, I’m sure Burbank would always come up before someplace like Claremont (no offense, Claremont!)

California Gov. Jerry Brown has been warning that if we don’t vote for his new tax proposals on the upcoming ballot that he claims are key to saving education, automatic cuts will go into effect that would seriously damage our public school system as we know it today.  On Wednesday, he delivered his State of the State Address in Sacramento where he once again talked about budget cuts that would effect schools and social programs.

One problem with the State of the State speech – no one watches it.  There are a few hearty souls who will be interested, but most Californians are oblivious to state politics.  It was now up to the Governor’s spin machine to get the word out there.

When the speech was over the consultants know that Los Angeles has a disconnect with Sacramento.  Without the Southland’s support, there is no chance of a ballot issue ever passing.  So it was decided to get the Gov. on a plane.   And guess where it lands – Burbank.

A Burbank school was picked because of its proimity to the airport.  It was convenient to get to, about a mile from the airport.  Only Providencia School would have been closer, but probably could not have supported the parking requirements of the teachers and the media.  What a great place to go, a school where you can drive home education cuts.

Now the Gov. can’t just pull up to a school and have a press conference, so he lets the school setup a round table and then a forum with teachers and administrators.   People will come because they have legitimate concerns and hope they can make a difference.  Burbank’s School Superintendent, Stan Carrisoza. went out of his way, as did his staff, and the administrator’s of Bret Harte Elementary Schoo,l to host this event, where the Gov. was coming to listen to them.

And that’s exactly what he did, he listened to everyone and agreed something had to be done, but then reminded all the teachers that this ballot measure had to be passed.  I’m sure he hopes that all of these teachers will go back and influence more votes from their students’ parents.

Of course, listening to the everyone’s concerns at 4:00 gave the news media time to set-up their live shots for the Los Angeles news cycle.  People may not watch the State of the State, but they will watch their local news.  So when it was time, and he could get the most exposure,  Brown came out using Bret Harte Elementary School as a backdrop — and all the educators as victims.

I feel bad for all those attending who went into this thinking that maybe they could make a difference for Burbank schools and students.  Let’s face it, if the Gov. really cared about this roundtable and forum, he should have at least brought the Superintendent of Education, Tom Torlakson, who might have some real insights.  He brought no one from the Education Dept. because it was not about the schools, it was about the ballot measure to raise taxes.

Let’s hope that something actually hit Gov. Brown and something positive comes from the meetings.  But sadly, I  think that Burbank was just used as a convenient photo opportunity, not a legitimate forum that may bring change.

Governor Brown, please pick one of the other 459 other cities in the future when it is only about your message and not about a real solution.

Burbank, you are a trusting city, but you just got played.