Letter to the Editor:
The purpose of this letter is to clarify some misinformation about the Burbank City Attorney’s Office.
Myth: The current City Attorney and her staff participated in the blank check actions that resulted in Burbankers spending more than $287,000 on the Tinhorn Flats abatement. See here: https://myburbank.com/?s=tinhorn Fact: This is incorrect. If you look at the information provided the bulk of the expenses were over time from BPD at the site due to the protest. These costs were not part of the abatement effort.
Myth: The current City Attorney allowed her attorneys to spend four hours at a time, sitting in traffic court, for a single case to fight $20 cell phone tickets. See: Case No. E134936, in which her staff sat in court for four hours, on the clock, to prosecute one $20 cell phone ticket. Fact: This matter was from 2012 and the defendant requested discovery, so a prosecutor became involved in the matter. It is not CAO’s practice to send staff attorneys to traffic court. But use of a cell phone while driving is a dangerous practice.
Myth: The current City Attorney has an employee sitting in on every board and commission meeting which is not a requirement under the City’s Charter, and this costs Burbankers massive money. Fact: This is absolutely inaccurate and contrary to the information publicly provided to the City Council for discussion during a Council Meeting on this subject. The practice is to staff Boards, Commissions and Committees, where decision are made, as oppose to advisory only, such as Planning Board, IOB, BWP and Civil Service. CAO has recently begun staffing the Police Commission given the important role the Commission plays concerning policing issues in our community. When other Boards need legal advise the staff reaches out to our Office for assistance and we will at times attend a meeting to lend guidance or training for example on the Brown Act. There are between 15-20 Boards. Commissions and Committees and CAO regularly staff 5.
Myth: The current City Attorney hires outside attorneys to handle cases that they could handle in-house which costs Burbankers huge money. Fact: The CAO has two in-house litigators who handle most of the City’s litigation. Where appropriate, the City does hire outside counsel to handle specialize matters, some highly complex matters or where potential liability could be extremely high to assist with the litigation. Even when outside counsel is hired, CAO litigators oversee the litigation and often times works hand and hand with outside counsel. This is the best use of tax dollars and has probably led to savings by hiring experts when needed to protect the City’s interest.
Myth: The current City Attorney has a budget of $4 million which is an astronomical figure. What other City our size has such a massive budget for the City Attorney? Fact: The City Attorney’s Office budget is just over $4,400,000 with just over $4,000,000 being salaries and benefits. This year Council authorized a new attorney position for the first time in over at least 15 years. Also, the CAO like other Departments normally have budget savings at year end, which are returned to the general fund. I believe, the Council authorized this new position because Council, along with the executive team, know how hard the staff of the City Attorney’s Office work to implement Council’s policy, prosecute misdemeanors and defend law suits to protect Burbank’s quality of life. The CAO staff are outstanding. Thank you.
Burbank City Attorney