At two recent council meetings (April 22 and May 13) I used the “public comment” podium to run three videos refuting Mayor David Gordon’s charges that certain records have been hidden from him. It’s strange territory for me, with a quarter century record of arguing, often bellowing, for government agencies to release records from their clutches.
I once even filed suit to pursue public records, a case I lost thanks to a narrow exemption for the Governor that my court broadened and applied to city councils. Fortunately, a short time later the legislature abolished the oft-abused exemption.
My latest efforts didn’t advocate secrecy. I used city videos to document Gordon’s accusations, then to prove he WAS given the documents he was asking for – multiple times. In one example he discussed a report with its author, the author repeatedly referring him to documents in front of them, with Gordon then asking more questions based on the material. This was a televised meeting wherein the ONLY item on the agenda was receipt and discussion of a report that Gordon later insisted he’d never been told about.
Instead of wasting literally hours of council time and untold taxpayer dollars with easily disproved charges of a conspiracy against Gordon, plots he attributes to conspirators trying to trample the little people he alone speaks for, I believe it would be an infinitely better use of time to highlight the way material in the records is being misused and contorted by some to rationalize and minimize the significant negative impacts of their agenda on all Burbankers.
Gordon also charges citizens critical of him are secretly given material that’s hidden from him. I showed video of one example cited by Gordon, followed by a Gordon cheerleader holding up and commenting on the very same report Gordon charged went exclusively to his frequent critic, former councilman Dave Golonski.
Especially confusing about this charge of Gordon’s is something that becomes clear only after hearing what the Gordon “enemies” say after supposedly being secretly handed the documents allegedly hidden from Gordon. For example, it seems city officials allegedly bypassed Gordon to give material to Golonski, material Golonski then used to scold city council members and staff, this in support of limiting development that Gordon seems to want to limit, too!
I can’t know whether Gordon knowingly makes false accusations smearing others, or if he sincerely, frequently forgets important material he’s been given. If it’s the latter, he also has an ugly record of attributing his lapses to dishonest acts by others.
Why do I care? Aside from being represented by Gordon, we claim similar concern on several city issues, from the looming threats of massive development adjoining a proposed airport terminal, to the city’s failures in reaching less influential stakeholders with public notices. Given the conspiracies and plots alleged by some today who regard Gordon as a hero, if many shoes were on different feet, one can easily imagine those same folks suspecting that anyone who behaves as Gordon routinely does is an agent inserted among them by the opposition to discredit their agenda.
The credibility of those with me on issues is as important to me as that of those I and others are debating, and Gordon merits none. I believe he does enormous damage to causes I and others think are urgent, and I hope he’ll turn over a new leaf. Putting an end to smearing critics and bystanders with false allegations, whether directly, or by sly inference, would be a good start.
I’m convinced the truth is more than ample to carry the day and convince citizens and most elected officials what the right decisions are. Moreover, it’s that much harder to successfully confront the opposition for playing fast and loose with the facts when one of their most prominent challengers demonstrates so little regard for the truth.