Tag Archives: Mayor

Burbank Bike Angels Celebrate 10 Years of Restoring Bikes

On Tuesday, December 18, the Burbank Bike Angels celebrated their tenth Christmas, displaying restored bikes on the steps of Burbank City Hall, located at 275 E. Olive Ave. 

(Photo By Timothy Malby)

Every year, the Bike Angels volunteer their time to restore used bicycles to provide for kids who come from less fortunate households.

The program has expanded over the years, supplying over 200 bikes every holiday season through various local non-profits, such as the Salvation Army, Family Service Agency, the Boys and Girls Club, and Penny Lane. Partnering with the Burbank Police Officers Association has provided new bike helmets, encouraging safety throughout the community. With the help of the Fire Department, bikes are transported around town.

Elaine Pease, Director of the Burbank Bike Angels, recounted the story of when she started the program a decade ago. Originally, the program only restored a few bikes at a time.

(Photo By Timothy Malby)

“Ten years ago, around Christmastime, there were a few tags left on the Salvation Army Christmas tree and they were for bikes. It happened to be at a time when the economy was very bad, and I thought these poor kids will never get bikes,” said Pease.

“I knew some people who could fix bikes, if I could get used ones we could fix them up and make them look nice. The idea just took off, and every year we got requests for more and more.”

Several volunteers were in attendance as City Council members voiced their appreciation for the selfless work of those involved with the program.

“About 8 years ago, the Bike Angels sent out a flyer to my middle school and I thought it might be fun,” said Alexander deCruz, a volunteer. “I started showing up, and learned how to clean bikes and repair them. I’ve met so many great people. I’ve been coming back ever since.”

(Photo By Timothy Malby)

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, who has been in City Council since the Bike Angels began, is grateful such a group exists in the community.

“It is one of those events that bring a lot of our community together in support of kids who otherwise don’t have any opportunity to get a bicycle,” said Mayor Gabel-Luddy.

“If there’s one thing I can say about Burbank, it’s that when folks hold together, that is the reward to everyone who lives here, that brings a smile to a child’s face.”

Throughout their 10 years, the Bike Angels have restored more than 1,700 bicycles.

On Friday, December 21, the Bike Angels will be at the Burbank Salvation Army from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to give away the refurbished bikes.

The non-profit group is always accepting new volunteers to help clean formerly owned bikes and pump tires. More information can be found at the Bike Angels’ Facebook page.

Mayor Gabel-Luddy Honors Andre’s Martial Arts

On Saturday, December 15, Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy honored Grandmaster Vincent J. Rodricks with a certificate of appreciation during a Christmas celebration at Andre’s Martial Arts, located inside the Burbank Town Center.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

During the Taekwondo studio’s annual Christmas party and belt ceremony, Mayor Gabel-Luddy presented the certificate, praising the masters’ for the positive impact they’ve had on the community. Following demonstrations, students and their parents watched as Grandmaster Rodricks was honored.

“You are all a real-life example of what happens when you maintain discipline, focus, humility, and practice. I want to congratulate all of you in your next steps,” said Mayor Gabel-Luddy.

“The people who have the greatest humility are the most powerful. It doesn’t make sense but when you think about it it makes all the sense in the world. Thank you for your dedication to our community.”

Burbank Police Department Captain Denis J. Cremins was also in attendance and has returned for several years in a row.

Taylor Martinez (10) earned an orange belt with a green stripe. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

“I’ve known Grandmaster Rodrick for 7 years. I’ve seen the way he’s interacted with the kids and the families. He has a great deal of respect, and it builds a lot of character in the kids. The character building is the most important thing. He’s changed their lives in so many different ways,” said Captain Cremins.

After receiving the certificate, Grandmaster Rodricks presented a plaque, a representation of his appreciation to the Mayor, thanking her for the City’s support.

Earlier in the day’s session, students as young as 3-years-old broke wooden boards in half with a single kick, earning higher ranked belts for their hard work. Masters also demonstrated their skills by breaking cinderblocks in half.

Andre’s Martial Arts have a reputation of inclusivity, encouraging families with autistic children to become involved. One of the parents who helped organize the Christmas party’s potluck, Lori Nishida, has a teenage son with autism who has thrived under Grandmaster Rodricks’ instruction.

“Whenever kids come in, whether a child is little or has special needs, Vince would assign a kid to mentor that child, to show them the proper techniques for kicks,” said Nishida. “It’s been great, because then kids learn from a young age how to help each other, no matter what their abilities are.”

(Photo by Ross A Benson)


As the masters volunteer their time and do not get paid, parents thought it would be a good opportunity to come together and buy a seasonal gift to show their appreciation. Each master was given a gift card to Starbucks.

Andre’s Martial Arts is located on the first floor of the Burbank Town Center at 201 E. Magnolia Blvd., Ste. 140.

Downtown Burbank’s “The Rink” Officially Opens at Ribbon Cutting

On Friday, December 14, the City of Burbank hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the popular seasonal ice rink known as “The Rink,” located behind City Hall at 275 E. Olive Ave.

(Photo Courtesy Scott Talamantes)

The outdoor ice skating rink is 4,100 square-foot and can hold up to 165 skaters per session. For the next six weeks, it will be open for everyone to enjoy, with fundraising events, scheduled performances, and public skating.

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy cut the ribbon after giving a short speech, stating that she hopes Burbank residents skate into the new year.

During the ceremony, young talented figure skaters from Pickwick Ice performed on the rink, skating to songs such as Christmastime, It’s Not Christmas, Winter Dreams, and a track from The Adams Family.

Among the skaters was Aubrey Ignaco who recently competed in the Pacific Coast Sectionals and won first place for the novice level. She will be advancing to compete in nationals this January.

“Hopefully she’ll go from there to the Olympics. At this point she can be invited to compete internationally,” said her father proudly.

(Photo by Tim Mably)

Shoko Tokuda, whose son skated as a part of an “Adams Family themed” trio, is excited to return to The Rink throughout the rest of December.

Conveniently located near the recently remodeled Burbank Town Center, locals have a festive activity to look forward to after buying presents.

For interested skaters, costs include $12 unlimited skating with no re-entry. Skate rentals are also provided for $5, and skating aids are $8.

The Rink is open from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. It will continue to stay open to the public until Sunday, January 6, 2019.

Burbank City Council Searches for New Member in Special Meeting

On Monday, May 7, applications were due for those who hope to be considered for the Burbank City Council. The vacancy comes in light of the passing of Burbank Mayor Will Rogers.

A total of 31 applications were turned in and 28 applicants have qualified to begin the interview process.

During a City Council meeting on May 10, council members were given an introduction and presentation of 27 applicants interested in continuing the process. Applicant Davida Frieman withdrew prior to the meeting.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Council members voted for three candidates and determined the final eight candidates. The City Clerk conducted a draw of the finalists and placed them in order for the process to continue: 1. Robert S. Brody, 2. John Bwarie, 3. Chris John Rizzotti, 4. Carolyn Elizabeth Jackson, 5. Linda Helen Muchamel, 6. Barry Gussow, 7. Timothy Michael Murphy, and 8. Paul Richard Herman.

A City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 14 at 5:00 p.m. during which a question and answer session will take place. Council members will have fifteen minutes per applicant to ask five pre-determined questions that will allow candidates to elaborate on their qualifications.

Following the interviews, council members will continue the process and vote in a ballot for the top candidate of their choice. Afterward, the City Clerk will collect ballots, conduct another random drawing, and read the names of the top candidates with a maximum of four applicants.

After the announcement, there will be a time for public comment. Once council members have heard from those in attendance, they will deliberate on the final candidates. Then, the City Clerk will take a vote of the Council in the traditional vote used for Boards, Committee, and Commission appointments. A majority vote is required for an appointment.

The new Council Member will be appointed on May 19 or possibly before. Formal seating of the new council member and the Oath of Office recited by the City Clerk will occur during a City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 22 at 6:00 p.m.

Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Continues An Annual Tradition

Dr. David Gordon, Burbank’s new Mayor, faced a large morning audience for the 39th Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast last Thursday at the Pickwick Banquet & Entertainment Center.  He shared a story about a WWII prayer that has become an enduring part of history:

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Torrential rains were pelting Germany in the days immediately before the Battle of the Bulge, a crucial WWII offensive against the Nazis. One of the Allies’ most brilliant generals, “blood and guts” George S. Patton, was worried that mud and ruts would frustrate his drive into the remaining Nazi strongholds.

On December 8, 1944 General Patton sent a Christmas greeting to his soldiers. He included a prayer that Almighty God “grant us fair weather in battle” that his soldiers “may advance from victory to victory and crush the wickedness and oppression of our enemies.” (It was like General Patton that he didn’t pray to avoid the fight, but instead to have a fighting chance.)

And indeed, the torrential rains ceased. The Allies went on to win the Battle of the Bulge. The following spring, Germany surrendered.

“Did the prayer matter?” asked Mayor Gordon, putting his finger on a question that believers and non-believers alike have wrestled with.  But most, if not all, of the morning’s listeners have come to believe that prayer has changed their lives and, at times, can change the fate of an entire nation.

The Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is a local version of the Presidential Prayer Breakfast held annually in Washington, D.C.  Christian Leadership groups in the House and Senate inaugurated this event in 1952. By then, Russia and China had the bomb and the specter of nuclear war drove many to seek divine assistance to avert it. It’s part of a wider tradition of prayer that includes Lincoln declaring a day of Thanksgiving while the Civil War was still raging, and Washington praying on his knees at Valley Forge in the darkest days of the Revolutionary War.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Ross Purdy (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

First Presbyterian Church Pastor Ross Purdy welcomed the attendees, which included County Supervisor Michael Antonovich; Council Members Gary Bric, Vice Mayor Bob Frutos and Emily Gabel Luddy; City Treasuer Debbie Kukta; School Board Members Ted Bunch, Dave Kemp and Vice-President Charlene Tabet; and School Superintendent Jan Britz.

Village Christian School Headmaster Tom Konjoyan gave the Invocation, followed by a special a cappella performance from singer Shyvonne Johnson.  Ross Purdy followed with introductions, followed by Mayor Gordon’s welcome. Master’s Men member Darrell Taylor introduced Guest Speaker Douglas Howe, whose topic was “4 Prayers We All Can Pray” (see companion article.) Master’s Men member and Pastor Wade Mikels concluded the event with the Benediction.

Sponsoring Club Presidents were Glenn Taylor of Master’s men, Gary Oseransky and Terry Scott of Optimist, Dr. Bruce Lily of Noon Kiwanis, Lee Stacy of Sunrise Rotary and Barbara Howell of Noon Rotary.


Dr. David Gordon Appointed Burbank Mayor

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Dr. David Gordon accepts his new position and welcomes the approval from former Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Overlooked numerous times, but not forgotten in 2014, Dr. David Gordon was elevated from Vice Mayor to Mayor at the annual Council Reorganization Meeting held each May 1.

Councilman Gary Bric nominated the longtime Councilman, and after a pause, received a second from Bob Frutos, who also gave some words of advice and caution to the new mayor. It was Frutos, elected last year to the City Council, who promised to make strides to be inclusive as he was sworn in and lived up to that promise.

Frutos then received a 5-0 vote to become the City’s next Vice Mayor.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank’s City Council (left to right) Emily Gabel-Luddy, Vice Mayor Bob Frutos, Mayor Dr. David Gordon, Jess Talamantes, Gary Bric (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon



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

Mayor Gives Optimistic Outlook During State of the City Address

Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy presented her State of the City address to a packed house at the Airport Marriott Wednesday in the annual event sponsored by Burbank’s Chamber of Commerce.

Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel Luddy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Since 2008, other Mayors have had to go in front of the local business community and try and sound positive about the downturn of 2008, although the theme was usually about some budget cuts that would have to be made to balance the budget.

Finally in 2013, Gabel-Luddy was able to not only the business leaders that things were looking better, but that the City of Burbank now has a projected balanced budget through 2018.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Her presentation was split into three sections and moved quickly while giving out the necessary information.  The first part was in the form of a speech where the Mayor talked about the previous year and some of the turmoil that was beginning top end.  The hiring or a permanent Police and Fire Chief, as well as Community Development Department Head.

“Burbank’s financial status is strong, with Standards & Poor’s giving the City a AAA Rating”, said the Mayor, “and that is something that is earned and not just given”.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

City revenue’s are also on the rebound with home prices in Burbank helping.  The average home price in Burbank is close to $530,000 compared the average in Los Angeles County which is $377,000 and unemployment in Burbank is currently at 8.4%.

She also went on to talk about the improvements in Burbank’s infrastructure including the money earmarked for repaving streets, Johnny Carson Park, Northwest Library, and Verdugo Park’s Pool as well as the Reservoir #1 which is just about complete.

Mayor Gabel-Luddy with City Manager Mark Scott. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Mayor Gabel-Luddy with City Manager Mark Scott. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

After a short video, she then asked a few questions to attendees including a not so surprised City manager.

Newly hired City Manager Mark Scott showed that he already fees at ease in his new position and his experience shows. Not only did he seem comfortable talking to the movers and shakers that make up the Burbank business community, he was able to inject a little humor when it came to his surprise at being picked from the crowded room.

Mayor Gabel-Luddy interviews President of The Downtown Business District Michael Cusumano (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Mayor Gabel-Luddy interviews President of The Downtown Business District Michael Cusumano (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Scott commented about the small city feel of Burbank and commented that his has realized that everyone in Burbank went to one of the schools here and that people have a deep concern for the  City.  He also stressed that he looked to help businesses maintain their employment levels and stressed how he wanted to work with the many small businesses in Burbank.

Developer Michael Cusumano also spoke on the Downtown Businesses and their recent successful events as well as the future.  The members Downtown Burbank Partnership have been working tirelessly to attract business to the downtown area for years.

Gabel-Luddy showed that in her term as Mayor, it is all about the flow of information that can make a successful State of the City address, not the length that some would lose interest in.

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy gets a high-5 from Planning Board Member Kimberley Jo a former City Council Candidate herself. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy gets a high-5 from Planning Board Member Kimberley Jo a former City Council Candidate herself. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

State of the City-8

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank’s Mayor Responds to Crash Tragedy

The following is an official statement issued by Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy on behalf of the Burbank City Council regarding Saturday’s early morning car crash that claimed several lives on San Fernando Boulevard:

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the young people who lost their lives so tragically Saturday morning. Our thoughts are also with the young woman who survived and her family and friends, as this is an especially painful time for them.

A tragedy of this magnitude affects the entire community, particularly one as close knit as Burbank. Due to the young age of the victims, it is important that we pay close attention to their peers as they navigate the grieving process. The Burbank Police Department is partnering with the Burbank Unified School District, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Family Service Agency of Burbank to ensure that the necessary resources are available for those in need.

The entire Burbank community feels the grief over this accident and we stand ready to assist. Burbank is a resilient community whose strength will help all of us to weather this trying time.”

The City Council will observe a moment of silence during Tuesday night’s Town Hall meeting to honor the victims of the crash.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame – Burbank Style

Photo By Ross A. Benson

It was Burbank Night at Dodger Stadium and hundreds of Burbank citizens turned out to watch the Dodgers beat the World Series Champion Cardinals on a walk-off walk in the bottom of the ninth.  Mayor Dave Golonski threw out the first pitch and everyone after the game was treated to a fireworks show.






Check out more great photos by Ross A. Benson