Reader Weighs In On Next Burbank Mayor


On Thursday Burbank’s city council undergoes its annual “reorganization,” the five choosing from among themselves one to serve as Mayor.

One local contingent argues the decision has “always,” with only extreme exceptions, been premised upon a formula that weighs placement in the most recent election. Others insist using only seniority and the record of who has not yet been Mayor is the way it has “always” been done, save for the occasional boycott of supposed trouble makers.

There have been many battles over the Mayor’s seat, with a council majority and their respective camps occasionally declaring that whomever was next in line couldn’t be named, warning of disaster and municipal humiliation. Among those denied a “turn,” only to later be given the chance by new regimes, were Mary Lou Howard and Dave Golonski. Others were blackballed and left office never serving as Mayor, including Tim Murphy, Susan Spanos, Ted McConkey and, to date, David Gordon.

The pearl-clutching dramas make some forget the job is entirely a figurehead position. With it comes wielding the gavel at council meetings, and use of a larger office. Otherwise, the job is as Burbank’s ceremonial representative, the “privilege” of the center seat at the dais, and signing proclamations. Burbank’s Mayor has no button to push to let the missiles fly, nor even a weighted council vote or veto. In 25 years of watching Burbank’s Mayors, I don’t recall one incident wherein residents were abandoned, an employer closed, or a thriving business fled because of the Mayor. All of these have happened, of course, but who was or was not Mayor at the time played no role.

Our neighbor, Glendale, has repeatedly named as Mayor one of the most erratic, self-centered and “out-of-round” pols I’ve ever known. While that’s led to occasional flaps, some of which even roiled international wags as he rambled irrationally and blundered, I don’t believe his being Mayor has ever had more negative impact on the city than his simply being a councilman.

I’m no fan of councilman David Gordon, and can document many incidents that reflect badly on his claimed integrity and honesty, qualities for which supporters give him credit. But he was elected, and even the well-founded contempt some of his colleagues and constituents is not cause to engage in a petty effort to block him from the Mayor’s seat he longs for.

As a journalist I’ve certainly reported on the sentiments of those who opposed one potential appointment, or supported another, just as I’ve covered the “:horse race” aspects (i.e. “Three out of five council members now say there’s no way they’ll ever agree to make – fill in the name here – Mayor on May 1.”).

Still, as long as the time in office and the rotations allow it, my personal opinion has always been that everyone who wishes to serve as Mayor should get their turn. That was my position when Tim Murphy, an amiable, respected and dedicated councilman was shoved aside in the 90s, and when the belligerent demagogue McConkey was raging from the dais in the 2000s. It’s no different for Gordon.


Will Rogers


    1. Mr. Rogers is trying to rewrite history. He NEVER wrote even one column suggesting Ted McConkey should or even could be Mayor. We all remember it well, and Rogers wrote many times that Ted should NOT be Mayor. A certain blog in town has challenged Will to come up with even one time between 1995 and 1999, when Ted was in office, that suggested the council should make him Mayor. But Will has stayed silent. Interesting, no?

      I’m sorry you allow flat out lies to pass as opinion.

    2. First, I suspect I know which blog issued the referenced “challenge.” If it’s the infamous one I think it is, I won’t be dropping by to pick up any gauntlets. I once read that blog infrequently, and found virtually every mention of both me and incidents I witnessed to be so riddled with falsehoods, errors and contortions they didn’t merit the dignity of argument. Moreover, the author and readers who “comment” are all anonymous, and to my knowledge have never made any effort whatsoever to ask their victims if there is any truth to the guesses, speculation, imaginings and gossip routinely published there. It’s not even clear how many individuals participate – is it three, or is it twelve? – as it appears a familiar handful simply offer comments and tales under a variety of pseudonyms. Next, it appeared to me the overwhelming majority of the posts were little more than name-calling of the most juvenile sort, typically mangling some hated target’s name as a 10 year old bully in a schoolyard might, and repeating it over and over.

      But finally with regard to the blog, the last time I read it the author had posted a lengthy brag about a ‘perk’ of one assignment at a job from which he was eventually let go. He claimed to have been the janitor at a Burbank high school he characterized as being populated by promiscuous girls. He described In vulgar terms what he claimed to have done to them, and what he said they did with him.

      I haven’t dropped by since, and won’t again in the future. I don’t want my computer’s IP address turning up as a listed visitor to a site that may one day be the subject of a criminal investigation or civil action. (Personally, I suspect the blogger is effectively “judgment proof,” living at a subsistence level and with certain mental issues that would make civil action an outrageously expensive waste of time.)

      Friends, acquaintances and others occasionally copy, paste and send me what
      they say are recent examples of material from the author and

      contributors. But I give each this same background, and suggest they stop
      wasting their time visiting the site.

      Finally, with regard to “Andrew’s” query, it appears the blog he
      cites is holding to the standards of the one I assume he’s read.

      To confirm my recollection, I checked columns from late April, the time Mayoral appointments are discussed every year, and during McConkey’s brief time in office. That’s how I located the first, published in the Burbank Leader April 26, 1997. The headline was “McConkey should have his fair shot.” Offering the same rationale seen
      above with regard to Gordon, I opined that McConkey should be given his “turn” in the mayor’s seat.

      But I concluded that column by noting a council majority appeared ready to ignore my advice. If that was the case, I wrote, for the benefit of future councils the council should at least spell out the policy for Mayoral appointments that it believed should replace the long-established tradition.

      Because some readers saw that as an equivocation, in the very next column, published April 30, 1997 and which an editor headlined “Danger: Traditions can’t be broken,” I reiterated that, by denying McConkey a turn in the Mayor’s seat, they were repeating the same injustice done to previous council members.

      There may be other columns I wrote with the same sentiments, but I stopped looking because two is more than sufficient to document the position the writer here asserts I never voiced. I’m sure Andrew will rush to that blog site, post the correct information, and a full retraction and apology will be forthcoming. Perhaps this “challenge” came with some sort of wager or other tangible prize for the victor? I’ll start holding my breath right now, and waiting for Riverside to freeze over.

      I do want to take this opportunity to note that, in my original letter when
      I listed council members denied what otherwise would have been their “turn” as Mayor, a decision premised upon a council majority’s effort to rebuke a colleague for real or perceived shortcomings, I should have included Robert Bowne. Hard as it is to believe today, and though a later council did eventually allow him to take the Mayor’s gavel, when tradition first put him in line for the seat, Bowne was considered just too far “out there” for the ceremonial position.

      Weird, isn’t it?


    Comments are closed.