Letter to the Editor:
I have a favor to ask of my fellow Burbank residents, and I hope that you read this knowing I am tremendously grateful for the unique relationships that we all have as Burbank residents, parents, neighbors and volunteers. I’ve been here for 20 years, and my kids are enjoying a great life in Burbank. We have a unique privilege to engage our local leaders on any matter of concern, and we celebrate the successes achieved by our collective voices.
So, what is that favor I wanted to ask you? Well, at least four-thousand of you are members of the closed “City of Burbank” Facebook group- the one run by our mayor, Jess Talamantes, and his son, Scott. Being among many residents whose requests to join have gone unanswered, I want all Burbank residents to be granted equal access to this group. Mayor Talamantes promotes it as:
“…a virtual community forum that promotes open communication between residents, provides community news/updates and ultimately establishes one more avenue of bringing our community closer! This modern tool of communication enables everyone from B.U.S.D. students and faculty, to Burbank residents and even city officials to exchange ideas, and information in real time. “
So, why are many of us unable to join? Why aren’t membership rules clearly stated, and why is membership administered by our Mayor, an elected official? Members of our City Council, City Staff, School Board and Superintendent, as well as the founder/editor of MyBurbank.com have joined this group. I have participated in a few BUSD committees and groups, from PTA to GATE to LCAP, so joining this group seems like a great way to stay in the loop. I sent my Facebook concerns to City Council, who then forwarded them to City Staff, but after Vice Mayor Rogers dismissed my concerns and suggested I start my own Facebook group, I submitted a letter to the Burbank Leader, and I started a Moveon.org petition, to appeal to City Council and Staff to formally ask the Talamantes’ to open up membership, so that more of us can connect with each other.
So, for those of you who have been granted membership, I’m asking you to reach out to Jess and Scott, or even post a message on the City of Burbank group page, asking them to post the membership rules, and to allow more of us to join. Short of that, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for me to ask that they change the group name to something less official, and change the group description so that it doesn’t give the misleading impression that all Burbank residents (ie. taxpaying voters) are welcome to join. There are plenty of other special interest Facebook groups which are clearly identified, but this one appears to be city-endorsed, so what gives?
This might be an awkward request, as some of you may be friends or neighbors or members of the same organizations, but I want to assure you, this is not personal, not partisan, and there’s no hidden agenda. In fact, if group membership needs to be controlled to minimize cyber-bullying, then let me assure you that I am all in favor of enforcing rules of decorum- but outright censorship should not be policy on a site named “City of Burbank”.
Thanks for reading my humble request, and I will harbor no ill-will if you choose to stay out of the fray. In the meantime, here’s a link to my letter in the Burbank Leader, and my Moveon.org petition.
I hope that you will share my concerns, help me get straight answers, and sign the petition.
Your friend and neighbor,
Burbank Leader Mailbag:
“Cracking closed Facebook sites”
City of Burbank Facebook Transparency