Opinion: It’s Sad When Our Two Elected Bodies Can’t Get Along


It’s just my opinion…

Rivalries, I get it; they’re everywhere. In sports, you have Dodgers versus Giants and even the high schools in Burbank versus Burroughs.

Those are all fun, and afterward, we all get together and celebrate the event, whether we win or lose.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our elected officials, when they can’t get along, we all lose.

Take, for example, what happened on Tuesday night at the Burbank City Council meeting. To start with, we knew there was something wrong when, the week before, the Mayor ended the meeting and said that they were adjourning to November 14th for a joint meeting with the Burbank Unified School District to be held in the Community Services Building. He also said not to come to City Hall.

So imagine my surprise when I looked at the agenda and saw the meeting was being held on Tuesday at City Hall. No notice was ever sent out that the meeting location was being moved back to City Hall, so if you did not happen to look at the agenda and only went by what the Mayor said the meeting, you were left searching for a meeting.

So why were they at City Hall? Very simply, the intended meeting with the school board fell apart at the last minute. There was over an hour of conversation about agenda items, but it seemed that they were talking in code the entire time and would not discuss what the real problem was with the agenda. But they will also tell you constantly about transparency.

What is distressing is that the School Board President notified the City Council that they would not be showing up to the meeting. The school board never met to discuss this as a board. It was a unilateral decision made by the School Board President and communicated to all the school board members even without a meeting. The only member of the school board to show up was Armond Aghakhanian, who was only there to have his picture taken during a presentation.

Evidently, the council members were told by staff that the School Board President could not agree on an agenda item, so he was canceling the meeting. Amazing. It reminds me of the story of a kid who can’t get his way in the game but owns the ball and decides to take his ball and go home. That’s how childish this whole thing sounds.

What a waste of time for everybody involved last night. To start with, the council moved all the other agenda items off their calendar for the night to deal with school board issues only. Staff members had worked hard to give council members, and I am sure school board members from their staff the proper information for the meeting. There were city matters that could have been taken up Tuesday night that never made it on the agenda because of the time involved in a joint meeting that never occurred.

What’s even more amazing is that one person can decide that two bodies cannot meet together. There are so many issues going on right now that could be discussed, but now we’ll have to be put on the back burner for months until a new meeting date can be set.

I’m trying to get my head around the fact that one member can stop the entire process without the consensus of the other board members. How is that possible? The dysfunction lately from the school board is mind-boggling.

Take, for example, the school board deciding to go to district elections. At a City Council meeting last month, when they were talking about district elections, the Mayor was told the school district had already voted to do it, which he did not know. What’s even more amazing about that is the Mayor has a son in the school district, and yet he was not involved in the process or in the loop of the information.

In fact, tonight the school board is going to ratify the district election process, and in the presentation, they have used myBurbank as the local news media outlet. While we appreciate the free publicity, we had never been sent one news release of the entire process of district elections by the school district or given any information unless we found it on the agenda. Never once were emails sent out to parents through their e-mail blasts talking about it.

Years ago, the school district and City Council elections used to be run through the same process until recently when the school board decided to break away from the City of Burbank. Now, they have decided to go to district elections, while Burbank has still not made the decision yet. Once again, there was no communication between the bodies, so the citizens were left confused.

You could easily be voting for one person in a district for your school board yet voting for any candidate in the entire city for City Council. Why these two bodies could not work on this problem together is once again beyond me.

A lot of people were upset last night, and the City Council members were confused by the school board’s actions, or should I say the School Board President’s actions, because it is not known if the decision was solely his or unilateral since the board had not met to discuss it. And if they did, then they are in violation of the brown act if they talked among themselves. Somehow, the message was delivered to them between Thursday and Tuesday not to show up to the meeting.

On the outside, it’s like we love each other and want to get along, but on the inside, there is far more going on, and I do not know if it is a power play or just a childish attitude where adults cannot get along and work out common problems.

How hard would it have been if there were an item on the agenda they did not want to talk about to simply say we would like to remove that during the meeting or if there was an item that was not on the agenda, say we would like to put this on the agenda for a future meeting to discuss it.

It’s too bad after watching the division between Republicans and Democrats in our government and even in a Senate committee hearing this week when a senator challenged a union witness to a fight, one has to wonder what is going on with our elected officials.

It once again tells me that what comes out of their mouths and what their intentions are seem to be two different, distinctive things, and one-upmanship still reigns supreme.

For now, the game is over because the kid who owned the ball has gone home.