Tag Archives: General

Candidates Respond: Burbank City Council Race

Editors Note:  After deciding not to endorse any candidates, it was decided instead to ask some of the tough questions that would have be dealt with during the next four years.  Some of these questions were sent in by readers and others picked by our staff.  All of the candidates were given a week after having the questions emailed to them. They have been re-posted in their entirety without any editing whatsoever.   Please take what these candidates say seriously while also considering the candidates who were unable or refused to respond and their possibly reasons why. Whatever, it is now up to you to decide.

Note 2 – Dr. David Gordon’s answers were received late, but have been included – it is important that all candidates have an opportunity to have their positions read.

Burbank City Council Race

Candidates David Golonski, Dr. David Gordon, David Nos and Jess Talamantes were asked the following questions:

MB BOX myBurbankOne of the first duties for the new City Council is to hire a new City Manager. Many believe Bud Ovrum to have helped steer Burbank through the economic downturn by his diversification of businesses, helping to bring in many different types of businesses. Are you looking for someone from the inside who knows Burbank or are you looking nationally to find someone. What qualities are you looking for? Also, are you in favor of doing a search for a new Police Chief when you have one in place who would like to keep the job after bringing ion several reforms and new personal into the department?

Dave-Golonski

Dave Golonski

We are conducting a national search for a qualified individual to become Burbank’s next city manager. Economic development was definitely one of Bud Ovrom’s strengths and will be an important quality that we will be looking for in the next city manager. The city manager that I would like to see for Burbank will be someone that has significant experience in running an organization similar to Burbank as well as someone that can relate well to the community. The individual will need a strong financial background and have a proven track record of building a strong organization and working well with labor organizations and diverse community groups. I have been impressed with the reforms that have been instituted by our current police chief and his command staff.

 

Dr. David Gordan

Dr. David Gordon

The Council is conducting a broad search for the best-qualified individual to fill the big shoes of Burbank’s next City Manager. However, due to the many rules and programs uniquely applicable to California cities, I would tend to look first to a candidate’s skills and experience understanding and effectively applying California State laws, programs and regulations. The successful candidate would likely have solid experience and background effectively dealing with labor issues and preferably have a positive history dealing with a city owned utility, city based police and fire departments, and/or familiarity with a joint power authority such as we have at the Burbank airport. I question the wisdom and necessity of doing a search for a new Police Chief when we currently have a highly skilled and experienced Chief who has demonstrated exceptional ability in righting a listing ship as well as having particular experience in handling the ongoing legal matters challenging our Police Department.

David Nos

David Nos

The City Manager is the most critical position within the City. Without a good City Manager the overall operation of the City flounders. This job requires an individual with tremendous drive, vision, and leadership skills. This person must be highly adaptable in order to deal effectively with bosses that may change every two years. A person who worries about job security will not do well in this position. The City Manager must feel strong enough about his/her convictions to disagree with the council if need be – and he/she must be able to motivate and direct staff in all the different departments so that the City runs smoothly. It will help to walk on water, but then maybe I am asking too much.

Someone who knows and understands Burbank would be a plus, and we owe it to the Burbank residents to get the best person possible. We won’t know that until we make a national search. Someone who has the skill levels that I mentioned above will be able to absorb and learn all the qualities that make Burbank the unique City that it is. I would expect the new City Manager to formulate an on-going vision that will help direct and catapult Burbank into a successful profitable sustainable future.

Chief La Chasse was brought in over 3 years ago as the “Interim” Chief. It seems a bit long to hold onto someone in that position without either going for the search, or offering that person the job. If in fact Chief La Chasse wants the job, it should be offered to him. We are cutting costs to balance the budget and it seems senseless to go on a search when we basically have a permanent Chief in place who just needs a title adjustment.

 

Jess Talamantes

Jess Talamantes

Did Not Respond

 

 

 

MB BOX myBurbankThe City Council has approved 4 consecutive Utility Rate increases while also approving a 21% pay raise for BWP GM Ron Davis, and 7-11% pay raises for Sr. BWP Mgm’t. BWP also spend $40 million recently on a “green” “sustainable” Eco Campus. Now we’re being forced by the State to spend $Millions to buy energy we don’t need in order to meet State renewable-energy mandates. What can we do to stop these massive rate hikes and pursue sensible, cost-effective renewable/green energy policies?

 

Dave-Golonski

Dave Golonski

Burbank currently has the lowest utility rates in our region. We have just put in place the last piece of our renewable portfolio plan that we believe will allow us to meet the renewable portfolio standard mandated by the State. We haven’t had “massive” rate increases even in the face of significant increases in costs. We need to recruit and retain talented people to run our utility and to find ways to keeps our rates low. The $40 million dollar investment was necessary to maintain our aging infrastructure. Around $20 million of this was to replace the Burbank distribution substation which was needed to maintain the reliability of our distribution grid. The remainder was for the administration building, warehouse and service facilities that were in need of seismic upgrades. These investments are long term improvements that will make our utility more efficient and reliable over the next 50 years. The modernization of the warehouse operation will result in significant cost savings over its lifetime.

 

Dr. David Gordan

Dr. David Gordon

It never made any sense to me to repeatedly raise utility rates and I consistently voted against them. The double-digit pay raises to BWP top management was unacceptable to me during a severe recession, high unemployment, and general fund deficit. I voted against those as well. It seems to me whatever precious City resources were spent on the so-called “Eco-Campus” were ill timed and inappropriate considering the current economy and ratepayers struggling to pay their utility bills. The millions of dollars Burbank is being forced to pay to comply with State mandated renewable energy quotas, that is, according to BWP Director Ron Davis, “energy we don’t want and we don’t need,” is simply outrageous and unjustifiable. The City must take every available legal action to challenge and protest these crippling, agenda driven, unaffordable surcharges and not just buckle under and claim, “our hands are tied!”

David Nos

David Nos

While I appreciate Mr. Davis’ business acumen and his approach to running the BWP, I am confused as to why a City who has been doing budget cuts ranging from 2% to 10% over the last 4 years needs to be cautious about salary increases. While I am not privy to the contracts of Senior Management staff at the BWP, from a conservative standpoint salary increases should be frozen during periods of budget cuts, and in some cases salary cuts will be appropriate.

In a meeting I had with Mr. Davis we discussed the Eco campus. Burbank does a great deal of power brokering. i.e. we sell the extra power we are not using. This helps bring a positive cash flow to the BWP. As I understand it the Eco campus was funded from power we sold to other cities such as Anaheim. During this meeting we also discussed the renewable energy mandates that we face. Burbank has been fortunate that Mr. Davis, through effective buying has been able to buy renewable power at lower rates than many other cities. As a result we can sell that power at much more competitive rates which helps defray some of the high costs that are associated with renewable energy.

I understand the State’s desire to start moving away from fossil fuels, but I question forcing cities to move to renewable power usage while the technology is still evolving.

Buying power at more expensive rates just forces the city to raise the rates to the end-user to cover the greater costs. Solar panels require a great deal of hardware to be effective and they are expensive to produce. Wind towers require maintenance and are unsightly. And don’t forget there are days when the sun is covered by clouds reducing power to the panels and the wind does not blow.

Unless we can get the State to see the downsides of forcing cities to “rush”

Into the renewable energy market we may be stuck. But, I believe we need to try to make the State understand by being aggressive with our legislators and working with the other cities in our region to put pressure on our State’s elected officials to give us some lee way.

In the meantime we need to look at what we can do operationally to cut our usage.

Give financial incentives to our residents for using less power. Work together as a community to reduce the entire City’s carbon footprint.

Renewable energy is the future, but while the technology is available it is not efficient enough to keep from affecting the pocketbooks of our residents.

 

Jess Talamantes

Jess Talamantes

Did Not Respond

 

 

 

MB BOX myBurbankThe City is facing a $2.1 Million budget shortfall and considering a variety of cuts, out-sourcing & fee increases to close the gap while dealing with a $252 Million unfunded Pension liability. What can we do to balance the Budget while addressing meaningful Pension reform? Please outline your specific Budget Plan.

 

Dave-Golonski

Dave Golonski

This year’s budget deficit is actually $1 million not $2.1 million. That’s because of the reduced spending over the last five years through a balanced approach that included employees paying more of the pension cost, finding ways to deliver services more efficiently and paying down our unfunded pension liability. I proposed a hiring freeze until pension reform was enacted, saving millions.

To further reduce spending, we need to continue these approaches with more emphasis on ways to deliver services more efficiently, including outsourcing services that can be performed by the private sector in much more cost effective ways. By acting now, we can do this in a thoughtful way, relying on attrition. I oppose reducing services or increasing fees. One example is changing to leasing police cars as opposed to purchasing them. This doesn’t impact our ability to deliver services, but will result in substantial savings. We also need to evaluate this approach for more of our fleet.

More important than balancing the current budget, we need to identify $8 million in additional savings to pay down more pension liability (resulting in additional recurring savings), increase the funding to repave our streets and invest more in our infrastructure, like our park facilities.

Dr. David Gordon

Dr. David Gordon

Before a meaningful “Budget Plan” can be crafted, all financial information has to be placed on the table. That information has not yet been presented to the Council so outlining a specific budget plan is only speculative. However, there are a few things that ought to be looked at immediately to effectively tighten the belt. We must curtail spending and collect money owed us. We failed to recapture over $40 million in debt owed to our General Fund by the former Redevelopment Agency. Now the State is claiming that money is no longer available to Burbank. It could have easily gone to balancing our current budget, prevented any claimed need for outsourcing our employees’ jobs, fixing a good part of failing infrastructure, and even been used to pay down some of our pension liability. We failed to ever claim the $1 million surety bond due the City following the former Recycling Center’s operator defaulting on his agreement with the City. And we continue to hemorrhage substantial funds through our legal department’s approach to dealing with outstanding Police cases and legal challenges. In addition, we have retained a number of former Redevelopment Agency Employees after the State abolished all such agencies converting their positions to regular city employees. The true, long-term, cost, justification, and wisdom of this move has never been clear to me. The City needs to very carefully review all of its departments and make sure of the needs of each and what the true costs are and ought to be for providing them. Burbank’s taxpayers deserve to know and be reassured that they are getting the full value and best bang for their hard earned bucks. Prudent accounting and spending should be the minimum standard and will likely bring our budget back into balance.

David Nos

David Nos

I would start with encouraging early retirements, and put a hard hiring freeze on non-essential personnel. The budget has to be looked at with a serious eye. If cuts become too serious City services will be affected and this MUST be avoided. We can look at outsourcing, but savings have to be proven and services cannot be affected as a result.

I think we can look at a few things on an operations level that might save long term costs. . Certain lighting technologies need to be looked at. A savings of up to 50% could be possible by converting fluorescents to LED lights. The technology is proven and effective.

Governor Brown’s Pension Reform bill was signed into law in 2012. Effective January 2013, all new employees under the calPERS system would have to contribute 50% of their pension costs. Local government labor unions will have a five-year window to negotiate that through collective bargaining. Annual retirement payout is capped at $132,120. What we have left is the bubble to bring pension costs under control. I have heard from other candidates that we need to “find” $8,000,000 a year to help pay for this.

You don’t find money – you grow revenues by bringing businesses to the city – by encouraging businesses to grow so that jobs are created and tax revenue streams flow into the city. My plan calls for creating a strategic partnership with the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, the Burbank Association of Realtors and the Burbank Community development Department forming a group that will actively pursue new businesses to relocate to Burbank.

This balance of cuts and revenue generation will help us to keep the budget balanced and with proper oversight, we can ensure that we keep our revenue growth ahead of our expenses.

Jess Talamantes

Jess Talamantes

Did Not Respond

 

 

 

MB BOX myBurbankOne of the clouds over the City during the past two years has been the police investigations and lawsuits. With a reported $7.1 million already spent and many more potential lawsuits still to go, do you feel there should be a change of strategy or continue in the same direction.

 

Dave Golonski

Dave Golonski

I believe we should continue in the same direction. I believe Burbank took the appropriate actions to deal with the problems that occurred in the Police Department and needs to see those actions through.

 

 

Dr. David Gordon

Dr. David Gordon

Absolutely! The Council has the responsibility and authority under the City’s Charter to be involved in decision making on legal matters, litigation, settlements, etc. The quality and appropriateness of the Council’s decisions will only be as good as the information upon which they are based. Not allowing Council members to directly question high priced outside attorneys supposedly hired to provide effective legal strategy seems contradictory to their retention. If critically important information is not presented to the Council by redaction or other methods, the Council’s ability to render the best decisions is compromised. The first step necessary to enable the Council to provide clear and meaningful direction in the current Police related legal matters is for it to be provided with all the information needed to understand what happened and who did what when. Absent clear, straight answers to the myriad of outstanding questions Council must either place full trust and faith in the legal “experts,” or accept reaching their decisions about continued legal spending by voting in the dark.

David Nos

David Nos

A change of strategy may just be what we need to do. From what I have been told there are more wrongful termination suits heading in our direction which means more legal fees. Some information that was just read openly at City Council meeting by a concerned resident shows the L.A. Sheriff Department’s independent reviews of the officers in question warranted no further investigation. Yet we terminated these officers, and we are being sued.

Apparently our City Attorney did not have these other documents – I have to ask Why Not?

None of the Council seemed to have this information either. Again why not? We are talking millions of dollars. This MUST be addressed. I must state that I am speaking as an outsider and am missing much of the other detail that the current Council has. But the evidence from this side requires that pointed questions be asked and answers must be given to the satisfaction of the community.

Jess Talamantes

Jess Talamantes

Did Not Respond

 

 

 

MB BOX myBurbankPlease talk about your vision for Burbank during the coming four years. Where can you make a difference? Are you willing to work with other council members for change? What development do you see coming to Burbank or would you rather preserve the residential areas?

 

Dave Golonski

Dave Golonski

I see Burbank becoming stronger financially over the next four years, protecting its services and programs and dealing with the increasing pension costs in a responsible manner. This will set Burbank aside from many other cities in California that have waited for this problem to become a crisis and had to sacrifice the level of service they provide to stay afloat. I believe I can make a significant difference because I understand the nature of the problem facing Burbank and am the only candidate that has put forth a plan to deal with it. I am more than willing to work with the other members of the council to implement change. Actually, that is the only way anything can be accomplished by the City Council. I see some opportunities for development in both the South San Fernando and North San Fernando area, neither of which would negatively impact our residential areas.

 

Dr. David Gordon

Dr. David Gordon

The next four years promise to bring a new air of openness, honesty, and accountability with the voters’ outright election of Bob Frutos in the recent primary. I hope to make a very positive difference on the Council by closely collaborating with and mentoring Bob whenever the need may arise. I believe Bob’s arrival on the Council this May, along with any other deck reshuffling that may occur in the runoff general election, will give the people of Burbank a taste of what true Council dialog and honest deliberation can mean to the City’s health and prosperity. As we emerge from a devastating economic recession, it is reasonable to expect investment and new developments will return. New development can be very beneficial to Burbank and its citizens when it is well planned and done right. Burbank’s IKEA has definite plans to relocate and expand its operation. The Airport is moving ahead with its Regional Transit Center and plans for enhanced rail access. Development plans are taking shape where the former Platt Project had previously been proposed for a high-end residential-retail project. However, I will continue to fight to protect our residential neighborhoods’ quality of life as new projects come forward and are considered. I will continue to insist that all new developments comply with State environmental laws as well as be compatible with their surrounding land uses. I have demonstrated my ability to work with numerous unique and different Council members over the past seven years I have served on the Council. Whether I agree or disagree with the views of those on the Council is immaterial. What is important is that the best interests of the people rely upon Council members working together to provide effective government.

David Nos

David Nos

My vision for Burbank is to ensure financial stability through thoughtful cuts and revenue growth. My vision is that Burbank understands what it really means to be “Green” and we establish programs that set us on this path. One example is using LED lights in the office buildings as opposed to fluorescents (a savings of 40% on lighting costs can be realized).

Being a City Council person requires collaboration with the other members. I certainly don’t profess to have all the answers or all the ideas. We are all individuals and we have strong opinions. Our job is to work together for the betterment of the ENTIRE community. Burbank is Us.

Your question makes it sound like development is a bad word – like we need to draw a line in the sand and pick neighborhoods or development. The operative word is balance. People who live here want the integrity of their neighborhoods to stay in tact. I will work to protect that. At the same time we need to see what can be developed that complements our neighborhoods and serves both parties involved. A bike path down Verdugo does not do that, but one down Burbank Blvd might. A cell tower in a neighborhood church does not do that, but one atop a bill board at Victory and Magnolia might. The job of a City Council person isn’t about choosing sides it’s about leadership and making all aspects of our Community a priority.

 

Jess Talamantes

Jess Talamantes

Did Not Respond

 

 

Candidates Respond: Burbank Board of Education Race

Editors Note:  After deciding not to endorse any candidates, it was decided instead to ask some of the tough questions that would have be dealt with during the next four years.  Some of these questions were sent in by readers and others picked by our staff.  All of the candidates were given a week after having the questions emailed to them. They have been re-posted in their entirety without any editing whatsoever.   Please take what these candidates say seriously.  Whatever, it is now up to you to decide.

Note 2 – Larry Applebaum’s and Charlene Tabet’s answers were received late, but have been included – it is important that all candidates have an opportunity to have their positions read.

Burbank Board of Education Race

Candidates Larry Applebaum, David Dobson, Steve Ferguson and Charlene Tabet were asked the following questions:

MB BOX myBurbankDo you support converting any of Burbank’s existing public schools into charters schools or authorizing new charter schools to open in Burbank? If so, which schools should be affected and what factors would you consider in selecting charter operators?

 

Larry-Applebaum

Larry Applebaum

I do not support converting any of our existing schools into charters nor the privatization of any of our schools. Charters most commonly form out of schools that have struggled to perform up to expectations. Burbank schools have consistently been performing well, with API score gains continuing to occur in-spite of some of the severest budget cuts this district has ever experienced occurring over the last 5 years. The one charter operator that Burbank authorizes, Options for Youth, serves to educate a population of students that both our comprehensive and alternative sites are not able to adequately serve, such as children whom work in film or TV and can’t get to our schools on a daily basis, for example.

 

David Dobson

David Dobson

Our schools are not failing. We are struggling, like most districts in the state, but we are still providing a good education to our students. Charter Schools don’t solve our problems, so I do not support converting any of our schools to Charters.

 

 

Steve Ferguson

Steve Ferguson

Absolutely not. The Burbank Unified School District is succeeding in its mission of providing a well-rounded, high-quality, education to our students there is no need for any more charter schools in Burbank.

However, while there may not be an interest or need to convert our schools to charters, we must not forget that education is a multi-billion dollar industry that many would seek to profit from. The involvement of Michelle Rhee’s pro-charter school political action committee in support of Char Tabet and David Dobson should be treated as a threat to our district’s autonomy and future.

 

Charlene-Tabet

Charlene Tabet

I don’t see a need to convert any of Burbank’s existing school into Charter Schools nor at this time do I see a need to open a new Charter school in Burbank. Our schools, due to the support of Administrators and Teachers, Parents and the community already have in place what Charter Schools in other communities provide. Our schools provide and outstanding balance of academic and life-long learning.

 

MB BOX myBurbankAs for teachers, talk about if you support eliminating or altering teacher tenure rules? If so, what would you change? Do you support eliminating or altering seniority-based layoffs for teachers? Do you support differentiated pay for teachers based on their performance?

 

Larry-Applebaum

Larry Applebaum

Teacher tenure in and of itself is not the real problem. I do support teacher evaluations that include as a component student outcomes as a means to identify the best teachers and as well as those that are consistently weak in this area. I believe most teachers agree that a teacher who consistently produces students with poor outcomes needs to be provided appropriate professional development and support, but when all else has been tried, that we should then be able to move to an expedited dismissal. Our students deserve no less than the best teaching possible and the vast majority of teachers in our district meet that standard. The few that don’t should be given the help needed to improve and if they don’t improve, be shown the door. Qualitative teacher evaluations should also play a part in the determination of who gets laid off should that become necessary. Too often, in my experience, we were forced to keep teachers because of seniority rules, in lieu of teachers with less seniority who consistently had demonstrated superior classroom performance and student outcomes. I believe that this will be a very difficult item to change, however, as state law supports the seniority based systems we currently have in place. Differential pay is also a very tricky area to broach in education. I think a more realistic system which might be supported at all levels in the future would be performance bonuses based on well established, measurable (not subjective) criterion that would give every teacher at every grade level and/or subject area an opportunity to reasonably achieve the success needed to earn the bonus. Until we get our teachers back to what they earned prior to the economic downturn, however, I don’t think that we can even entertain a discussion like this.

David Dobson

David Dobson

All of these issues are negotiated. The board can not unilaterally change any of them. Tenure and Seniority are issues involving job security for teachers. I do not have a problem with these provisions in principle. However, in extreme cases, these rules can result in bad outcomes for students. Identifying the extreme cases and reconsidering some of the contract provisions in that light might be in everyone’s best interests. Differentiated pay is another contract issue and we already have different pay scales for teachers hired before and after July 1, 2005. Different pay for performance of course begs the question, how do we judge performance? Rewarding good teachers sounds like a great idea, I would love to offer that to them, but where does the money come from, who decides and what are the criteria used in making that determination? The idea is an end run around these difficult questions and without support from teachers on all these issues, I don’t see this happening and would not put energy into making it happen. Burbank teachers, from my experience, are mostly really good.

 

Steve Ferguson

Steve Ferguson

I do not support eliminating or altering teacher tenure rules. I do not support eliminating or altering seniority-based layoffs and I do not support merit pay.

All too often all these protections for teachers are portrayed as bad things which only protect bad teachers, and that is simply not the case. Education, in the State of California, is inherently political. Tenure allows teachers to be free from political influence and intimidation when asked to teach difficult or controversial concepts and it also allows our teachers to have free discussions among their academic learning community without fear of retribution or consequence.

While there is no doubt that teachers who are new to a district may bring new methods, enthusiasm and energy. Teachers who have a longer history with the district often carry great experience and institutional knowledge that must also be respected and valued.

Lastly, I am opposed to merit pay for teachers because I have great concerns over how it would be implemented as I believe our district does not have the manpower or system in place to implement merit pay objectively. I also think merit pay sends the wrong message about education. Teachers should be motivated by raising student achievement levels and seeing their students succeed, not by a paycheck.

 

Charlene-Tabet

Charlene Tabet

I don’t have any plans to eliminate or alter teacher tenure rules, eliminating or altering seniority based layoffs or differentiated pay for teachers. Although as a parent I know how frustrating it can be when your child doesn’t have the teacher who gives his/her all like most of our Burbank teachers do. As a teacher, I know how frustrating it can be when one of your colleagues doesn’t do his/her job as well as they should. I would like to work with teachers, administrators, and experts in the field of personnel evaluations to explore options. One thing I do know is that even though we push the theory of becoming lifelong learners to our students, we do very little to reward or compensate those teachers appropriately who have gone on to further their education. This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me when our teachers are the ones who make the most impact on our students. It seems we should have a better way to compensate them for their work.

MB BOX myBurbank With Measure S passing, there will soon be $110 million available. What is the most immediate need to be addressed first? What new technology do you support for Burbank students? Do you think some of the money should be put away for future use as technology changes in the next 20 years?

 

Larry-Applebaum

Larry Applebaum

Measure S authorizes the District to sell up to $110 million dollars worth of bonds, but our first issuance of bonds will be most likely in the $35-40 million dollar range, an ambitious amount to be sure. State of California rules regarding bond funds stipulate that at least 85% of the funds be spent within 3 years with the remaining amount already designated for use, although work might not be completed. That being said, I believe the first projects we tackle need to be those involving safety and security, including cracked asphalt that creates serious trip and fall hazards, breaches in fencing caused by advanced age, and improved security at all school entrances. I also would like to see the auditoriums and gymnasiums that do not have air conditioning have that installed. Unfortunately, none of these types of projects happen overnight, and District staff is currently working on plans that will allow us to begin the job of addressing these needs, realizing that this work will be accomplished over a number of years. I also would like to see us immediately begin a program to install LED lighting in place of existing florescent tubes, something that would begin to provide utility bill relief freeing up general fund dollars that can then be used for other district needs. While our staff and teachers work to identify the technology that needs to be included in a 21st century classroom, we need to move forward with installing necessary technology infrastructure in our schools, including improving network switches, installing WiFi school-wide and reconfiguring signal routing to assist in improving connectivity and expanding bandwidth. We must have this backbone in place before individual student devices are begun to be piloted in any of our schools. None of the bond dollars can be “put away” for the future, but I do support the establishment of a technology sinking fund that is used to pay for upgrades and refresh of our equipment over time. The BUSD Technology Department is working to create a plan and establish an amount that will need to be contributed from the general fund annually to accomplish this goal.

 

David Dobson

David Dobson

We have an obligation to make the most of the Bond money and to recognize always that it as an investment in our schools by our community. We need to prioritize projects in a open and transparent way. We need to first fix what is broken – but not overlook larger improvements that might be part of the repair. Then we need to prioritize projects that will reduce future costs, like upgrading to dual pane windows and lower voltage lighting to reduce electricity usage and adding solar where ever possible – possibly creating a revenue stream in the summer when schools are closed, but the panels are producing needed green electricity for the city.

The main technological upgrades need to be to our network infrastructure. We also need more computer labs, with standardized systems to reduce replacement and maintenance costs. Classroom computers for teachers need to be upgraded to allow them to use online resources and to take advantage of software to reduce their administrative time. Tablets for e-books are a great idea, and we might save a lot if we allow those families who have their own to bring them and use them for school. Smart investments in technology ought to produce savings in the long run that can be used for long term maintenance. I don’t think we are allowed to put any Bond Money aside for future use (if we are than I would support it,) but the district will certainly have to make provisions for making future repairs, upgrades and replacement to all our technology. It will become a regular part of all future budgets and preparing for 5 and 10 year replacement cycles makes good sense.

Steve Ferguson

Steve Ferguson

Measure S was marketed with the slogan “Safe Schools” and I believe priority one should fulfill that promise. I support a comprehensive safety assessment that will detail which projects should be focused on.

What will also weigh heavily on my decision-making, when it comes to bond project prioritization, will be classroom impact. I was a student during site construction and I know how distracting and frustrating construction can be. Projects that will have major impacts on the quality of learning should be scheduled for the summer months, if at all possible.

As for the technology component, I support replacing the districts aging technology that we have in place. I am not opposed to acquiring new technology, but we must acknowledge that the acquisition of new technology obligates the district to future general fund spending. I will not support purchasing new technology today that the district will not be able to afford to maintain in the future.

Modernizing our existing technological infrastructure will allow us to expand program offerings and allow for more exposure to technology and new software systems which compliment lesson plans in our classrooms.

Lastly, I would love to put bond money away for technology needs and maintenance in the future. However, that is not allowed as bond money must be spent in a time certain from its issuance.

 

Charlene-Tabet

Charlene Tabet

First it’s important I believe to not look at this bond passage as being similar to the last one that was passed. We are at a completely different impasse and need to come at this bond money completely differently. Each school site has already targeted needed repairs and those should start immediately. We don’t have to do one school site at a time because the repair work has already been laid out prior to the passage of the bond. Let’s get working on those repairs! Secondly, also noted for each school site was what was needed to add additional security. Again, lets get working on those. We don’t need to waste time figuring out what needs to be done, the target areas that need work have already been noted in a previous security assessment plan that has a quality baseline to start from.

As far as technology, we are behind the rest of the world. We have two issues with technology: how do we prepare our students for the current technology in the job market after high school and how do get ready to implement technology in our school curriculum especially with Common Core assessments being internet based? The first issue we can look towards our business community right here in Burbank to see how we can partner and use their expertise in understanding what our students need. The second issue is to work with our teachers to not only understand what the state will be asking of us in regards to technology standards and common core, but how they see utilizing technology in our classrooms. We need to make sure our schools and our students are ready for whatever and wherever their paths take them.

MB BOX myBurbankBudgets for extracurricular activities such as sports and vocal music associations have been drastically cut over the years and now with the current ACLU law being enacted, programs are not allowed to charge any fees to students and any fundraising must be voluntary. How should these programs be funded or do you think they should be cut back?

 

Larry-Applebaum

Larry Applebaum

I do not believe we should be cutting back on any of the extracurricular activities and should always be looking for new ones to offer our diverse population of students. That being said, any activity that has associated costs and expenses needs to be able to demonstrate that it has an achievable plan in place to fundraise the required dollars needed that includes a provision to support the inclusion of every student that wants to participate, assuming they meet whatever non-financial criterion that allows one to qualify for participation is met. BUSD has worked very hard to modify many of our existing programs to meet these new funding requirements and to insure that everyone understands what can and can’t be done vis-a-vis asking for funds to participate. I think that the more programs we offer, however, the harder it will be for all of them to co-exist, give the limited capacity of the broader community beyond parents to fully fund these activities. Parents will have to become more efficient fundraisers to maintain the same level of quality in some of our programs, like vocal music and varsity athletics, but have already demonstrated that they have the capacity to change the way they do business in a manner that allows these programs to continue to flourish. Unfortunately, I do not see a way for the district to contribute any greater resources to any of these programs in the near term, and believe we are a long way off from righting the district ship. Any discussion of additional district funding will have to wait for that day to come.

David Dobson

David Dobson

Of course it was always the case that we were not allowed to charge fees for these activities. The ACLU case just changed the language we used to ask for money. These programs will continue to be funded by voluntary contributions from parents able and willing to do so and booster clubs will continue to make sure that every student who wants to be a part of these activities will be able to or the activities will be reduced or cut. It would be wonderful if these programs were once again part of the districts regular budget and boosters were adding additional value. Other sources of revenue, grants for instance, can be pursued, but each year the money will have to be raised one way or another or the programs will not exist. I do think the district should make it a priority to maintain the teachers and staff necessary so long as an active Booster exists to support a program.

Steve Ferguson

Steve Ferguson

Many extracurricular programs including sports and on-campus student associations are what keeps many students from dropping out. These programs should continue to be funded at their current level. That means continued reliance on our student governments and community-based fundraising will have to continue as district funds on their own cannot sustain all programming.

 

Charlene-Tabet

Charlene Tabet

In my perfect budgetary world, all of the extra curricular activities and sports would have huge budgets. Why? Because these activities is where our kids learn the lessons of life. Competition. Working with a group towards a goal. Practice. Hard Work. Payoff. These areas are where our kids make memories that they carry with them for years to come. Outdoor Science Camp, field trips, sports teams, art classes, photography classes, Culinary arts. and the list goes on.

Our children are so fortunate here in Burbank to have the support of parents who make sure that there is money to support the extras. I would do everything that I can to make sure these programs stay in our schools. and make them fair and accessible to all as required by law. And for now, while we are still suffering with a reduced budget we are going to have to continue to count on parent and community support of these activities.

MB BOX myBurbank What is your vision for the district in the next four years? Are the hardest times behind us or are there serious budget challenges ahead? What is it you bring that can make a difference in Burbank?

 

Larry-Applebaum

Larry Applebaum

I have a very hopeful vision for our district over the next four years. While it will take some time for the economy to attain the robust growth it once had, I believe the outlook for improved state revenues is very real. That being said, I think it will take all of that time to get us back to the level of funding we had in 2007-08, the bellwether year of funding over the last couple of decades. Careful management of our funds will continue to be critical, as we work towards eliminating our $4 million dollar plus structural deficit, while working to restore salary and benefit levels to the pre-recession levels for district employees. Measure S will provide important funding opportunities to pay for infrastructure improvements that will lead to general fund savings; savings that can be used for a variety of purposes including expanding programs and reducing class sizes. The Board will need to determine what the optimal class size is for our K-3 students, then put in place a plan that moves us toward that goal over time and provides for the necessary facilities and staffing to achieve that vision. Academically, we need to continue to improve the outcomes of students in our socioeconomically disadvantaged, English language learner, and Special Education student sub-groups, while assuring that our other students continue to show improvement and are afforded the variety of classes that will lead to success after graduation, regardless of what path they may take after high school. My years of experience on the Board during extremely challenging economic times, plus my real world experience in the electronics and construction arenas, give me a unique perspective through which to view, and will allow me to assist the District toward the best possible decision making in a number of areas. Likewise, I remain committed to my vision of expanding student exposure to instructional technology in the classroom, providing all elementary students with a real curricular exposure to foreign language learning, and a continuing support of our music and arts programs in the District, including diligently working towards full implementation of our 10-year Arts for All plan.

David Dobson

David Dobson

I do not think the hardest times are behind us yet. I think the current board has done a fine job of stretching the reserve to try to wait out the recession, but I think the recession has lasted longer and will recover too slowly and that our ability to deficit spend will come to an end before the economy recovers. Add to that the governors proposed new rules regarding the allocation of funds and I see us having to make many more serious and painful cuts in the next four years. How do we cut $4 million from our budget? Or even 2? Furthermore, the way our society has come to view education in general has changed and I am not convinced that should the economy turn around, schools will see much of an increase in funding beyond cost of living increases for employees.

We have done education the same way for a very long time. That system hasn’t failed, we simply have stopped funding it. But if that is the new reality, what are we doing to face it? Nothing. I would like to see that question put to a group of our own teachers and principals and administrators and the public. What does a classroom of 40 or 50 students look like. How do we make that work? Or do we even use that model? I don’t claim to have a plan for what that looks like, I just know we have smart, capable, caring people working in this district who, if you put the problem to them, can solve it. If the money comes back, then it’s easy, but we have to ask the hard questions, we’d be foolish not to.  At the end of 4 years, I’d like to see the district solvent and on the road to creating a system that accounts for our new reality, that works for students, teachers, parents and Burbank. Not reform, something different, something new. Something that includes new technology and arts in all aspects of education, with more integration and sharing of resources with the community and the city, with better outreach and a renewed respect for the education system in general. Where the promise that every child shall have the opportunity to reach their potential is met.

Failing that, I will not bother to run again.

Steve Ferguson

Steve Ferguson

I believe that the next four years bring significant challenges for our district. However, I believe that we are more than capable of rising to meet these challenges. The passage of Measure S means that the board must provide thorough oversight of the expenditure of over $110 million dollars. That oversight, matched with resolving the district’s $4 million reoccurring structural deficit will require a great deal of patience, time and a renewed commitment to communication with members of this community and with our district’s bargaining groups.

Whatever challenges we face, we cannot overcome them without collaboration. I have successfully built coalitions throughout my entire life, and as a result, I’ve been a part of accomplishing some pretty incredible things in my relatively short time in this world.

My commitment to raising student achievement levels in this district is unyielding and I know I will bring a new perspective and energy to this school board that has never been seen before.

For a more detailed plan visit my website at FergusonforSchoolBoard.com/the_plan
Charlene-Tabet

Charlene Tabet

While I think the hardest times are behind us, I don’t think we are where we can relax yet. Our school board still needs to remain conservative in their spending, making sure that we can continue to bring quality education to our students without needs for further cuts. We are deficit spending now and the money taken from us by the state is not coming back. We will need to assess where Prop 30 takes us and what we can do to maximize that funding to sustain what we provide.

I believe my experience as a leader in PTA and as a property owner will enable me to understand the budgets and be able to make important decisions for our district. I believe that my experience as a classroom teacher will enable me to make decisions, knowing how that decision will affect those in the classroom every day in addition to understanding how it will also affect our students and parents as well. I have a very varied background with an ability to see the big picture, ask the tough questions, and also solicit help from our community to come up with quality and transparent solutions. In my 48 years of living in the community and my diverse background in volunteerism, education and experience show that I am committed to working together with all stakeholders to provide for our students.

Burbank – What Do You Want to Know From the Candidates?

Burbank residents will be asked to vote in two elections that are extremely important for the City of Burbank.

The City Council will have many issues in the next two years such as the police litigation, a search for a new Police Chief and City Manager, as well as budget concerns while the School Board will be putting to use the $110 million bond issue that was passed earlier this month, besides all of the budget concerns facing the schools.

BurbankNBeyond is in the process of preparing a series of questions that will be sent to all candidates in both races.  We will publish all of their responses for you to read and hopefully give you an opportunity to make up your OWN mind on the issues that effect you and your way of life in Burbank.

BurbankNBeyond staff had talked about endorsements but have come to the conclusion that an informed public is far better then a news outlet TELLING you whom to vote for.  You should always look at all endorsements closely and ask yourself if the person or group endorsing have any connection to Burbank.  Is it a Burbank resident or organization in Burbank endorsing or is it an outside business, party, or political committee trying to influence votes, including outside news agencies.

This is your chance to get the answers to the questions that you want to hear.  We will not use your name, but we do ask that you live or have a business IN Burbank.

We will have the right to condense or reject any questions, but that is not our intent.

We want you involved in this election!  We want you to cast that vote!  Let the candidates know that you are engaged and care!

Please send your questions to questions@burbanknbeyond.com by Sunday, March 24.  We will send them out to the candidates on March 25 and hopefully publish their full, unedited comments around April 1 (no fooling!).

Frutos Joins Nos at Fundraising Event to Give Support

Editors Note: Release provided by Nos campaign.

mail-2Many members of the community joined City Council Candidate, David Nos to show their support in his run-off for a council seat. The fundraising event was held at the Gordon Biersch restaurant on Wednesday, March 13th. Council Member –Elect, Bob Frutos, showed his support of Nos by asking everyone to Vote and to do the same .

Ferguson Earns Los Angeles County Democratic Party Endorsement

Steve Ferguson’s campaign for the Burbank School Board announced the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.

Requiring support of 60% of the party in order to be endorsed, Ferguson earned the endorsement overwhelmingly with 107 votes out of the total 147 votes cast. Burbank School Board candidates Charlene Tabet and David Dobson, who received 46 and 57 votes respectively, suffered greatly when their support from Charter School Super PACs was brought to light.

“It was clear that Steve Ferguson had the support of his community and that the other candidates had the support of charter school interests. I was proud to vote for him,” said Daniel Lopez who serves as President of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats and as a member of the County Party.

Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair and California Democratic Party Vice Chair Eric Bauman issued the following statement about the endorsement, “Steve Ferguson is a true progressive who will stand up for our kids, and protect Burbank’s Schools from those who would privatize them and forever change our community. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party is proud to support Steve Ferguson – the only candidate who has earned our support for Burbank School Board.

Ferguson replied by saying, “I am sincerely grateful for the support of my party and of my party’s Chairman. This support will be essential as I continue to reach out to the voters of this community in this historic race.”

Former Burbank School Board President Endorses Steve Ferguson

Steve Ferguson’s campaign for Burbank School Board continued its strong momentum today as Paul Krekorian, former Burbank School Board President and State Assemblyman for Burbank, announced his endorsement of the candidate.

Steve Ferguson

Steve Ferguson

“Throughout my service on the School Board, Steve Ferguson was a strong, committed and effective advocate for our students.  I worked closely with Steve when he was a student Board member as we led Burbank’s schools through a very challenging time.  I know first hand that Steve Ferguson has the experience, independence, and vision necessary to lead BUSD and to ensure that the quality of Burbank schools will not be compromised,” said Krekorian, who now serves on the Los Angeles City Council.

“Steve Ferguson is not a newcomer to the challenges facing Burbank schools – he has devoted much of his life to fighting to overcome them.  Burbank schools will be in good hands when Steve is on the Board, and I am very proud to endorse him.”

In a response, Steve Ferguson said, “Paul Krekorian successfully led the Burbank School Board through one of its most fiscally challenging times and knows what it takes to be an effective School Board Member in Burbank. His endorsement means a great deal to me and I am very grateful for the confidence he has shown in my ability to effectively lead our school district.“

Nos Picks Up Endorsement of Councilman-Elect Frutos

Newly elected Councilman Bob Frutos has endorsed City Council challenger David Nos.

David-Nos

David-Nos

“I am humbled by the endorsement of Council Person Elect Bob Frutos. In partnership with Bob we will work together to bring new leadership, fiscal responsibility and meaningful change to the Burbank City Council” said David Nos.

Frutos joins Gary Bric , Dave Kemp, Ted Bunch and many other past Council, School Board members and other Community Leaders who have also endorsed Nos.

David Nos and his Committee will host a Meet and Greet the Candidate and fundraiser to kick off No’s Campaign for The Run-Off Election on April 9, 2013:

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
145 S. San Fernando Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502
Wednesday March 13, 2013
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm in the Gordon Biersch patio