Tag Archives: Will Rogers

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.

Celebration of Life to be Held Monday for Will Rogers

Mayor Rogers’ Celebration of Life will be on Monday, April 23 at 2:30 pm at The Castaway.

From Dignity Memorial:

Will Rogers born June 21,1957 in Neenah, WI. Raised primarily in Bloomington, MN. After graduating from the Goodman School of Drama, he moved to the Los Angeles area in 1979 where he continued dual roles as actor and writer. In 1990, Will began writing for the local paper and was soon writing at least four feature columns a week. His work has appeared in virtually every newspaper in the “Times Community Newspapers” group, winning more than 20 1st place awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Assoc., The Greater Los Angeles Press Club and others, including “Columnist of the Year.”

Will was elected to the Burbank City Council in 2015 running on a platform of transparency and community involvement. He was named Mayor by his colleagues in 2017. Will took his duties with the City of Burbank very seriously, though he brought a sense of humor to the meetings, building a strong sense of comradery.

Will was recently honored with the 2018 Burbank Top Award for Citizenship by the BTAC. This award exemplifies the very essence of Will Rogers – who spent his life fighting for the needs of others, whether through writing investigative columns, volunteering or his many personal acts of kindness. Will purchased many items he didn’t need at silent auctions and was happy to attend any function where he could be of service to someone.

Will Rogers was known for his dedication to the service of others, philanthropy, and clever writing skills, but family was his first priority. His family will miss his sharp wit, biting sarcasm and deep devotion. Will Rogers was a much beloved husband, daddy, brother, uncle and great uncle.

Will was proceeded in death by his mother, JoAnne Rogers, Father Kenneth Wege, brother Stephen Wege, niece Susan Heberle and much-loved dogs Lucy and Guinness. He is survived by his wife of nearly 30 years Nancie, children Stephen (& Hailey) and Sarah.

In Lieu of flowers donations may be made to BTAC or Boys & Girls Club of East Valley and Burbank. A Celebration of Life will be Monday, April 23 beginning at 2:30 PM at The Castaway in Burbank, CA.

Burbank Mayor Will Rogers Loses Battle to Cancer

It was reported today by city officials that Burbank Mayor Will Rogers has lost his battle with cancer.  He was 60 years-old.

Mayor Will Rogers during his State of The City Presentation. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

He was appointed Mayor of Burbank on May 1, 2017, and was scheduled to step down in just 11 days when a new Mayor is appointed by Council vote.  After announcing his condition in September 2017, Rogers continued with his council responsibilities, including attending special events, ribbon cuttings and continued chairing council meetings, as recently as April 12.

Rogers was elected to the Council in 2015 and according to a city release, “Mayor Rogers will be remembered for his quick wit, unrelenting honesty, positive attitude, unpretentious demeanor and unyielding love for the City of Burbank. As Mayor, his highest priority was transparency and sharing information with the public. He was always willing to listen even if he disagreed.”

The release goes on to say, “Although born in Wisconsin, Will was raised primarily in and around Bloomington, Minnesota, a place he refers to as the “Burbank of Minnesota.” Will’s family moved extensively when he was young, leading to sojourns in many spots including Burlington, Vermont, Pismo Beach, California, Chicago, Illinois, and Merritt Island, Florida.

Will performed in his first commercial at the age of 15, and shortly thereafter began his “backup career” as a freelance writer, specializing in investigative journalism. As a young adult, Will attended the Goodman School, a renowned college for actors in Chicago, and later Normandale College in Bloomington where he won national awards with the speech and forensics team.

Will arrived in the Los Angeles area in 1979, where he continued dual roles as an actor and writer landing roles in TV and film while his by-line appeared in a variety of publications from LA Weekly to Germany’s “Der Spiegel” magazine.

In 1990, Will began writing for the local paper and was soon writing at least four feature columns per week. Will’s work has appeared in virtually every newspaper in the “Times Community Newspapers” group, from Pasadena to the South Bay, to Burbank, winning more than 20 first-place awards from the California Newspaper Publisher’s Association, the Greater Los Angeles Press Club and others, including “Columnist of the Year.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Much of Will’s press work has been investigative in nature, but he’s also written “observational humor” pieces about his wife and children, often touching on his DIY home remodeling projects.”

Vice-Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy will assume the role as mayor for the next 11 days until the Council Reorganization meeting on May 1.


City Hall Flamingos Support Mayor’s Battle Against Cancer

On Tuesday, September 26, several plastic flamingo lawn ornaments appeared at the back of Burbank City Hall to show support for Mayor Will Rogers who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The plastic flamingos are a nod to Mayor Rogers’ house which he lived in for a number of years when he jokingly crowded his front yard with the lawn ornaments.

His former neighbor Jill Herbertson had the idea to decorate the back of City Hall with the bright pink birds after hearing the announcement of his diagnosis on September 21. Although it has been a decade since they lived in the same neighborhood, Herbertson felt the need to pay tribute to the Mayor as he battles liver cancer and nonalcoholic cirrhosis.

Councilman Bob Frutos said that this declaration from Herbertson and others who have voiced their support for the Mayor represents the city’s “compassion” and “understanding.”

“A lot of people admire him for being willing to commit to public office,” said Councilman Frutos, on the Mayor’s resilience to continue as mayor despite his diagnosis.

Vice-Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, who is taking on a few of Mayor Rogers’ responsibilities while he spends some time away from work, sees the kindness expressed by many as a testament to Burbank’s spirit.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“The outpouring from the Burbank community is something I expect: we know each other and like good neighbors do, we support one another,” said Vice-Mayor Gabel-Luddy.

When Rogers first noticed the cliche lawn decorations outside the back of the building, he didn’t immediately make the connection as to what they were doing there. Soon, it was brought to his attention that they were in honor of his service to the community, and represented support from his former neighbor.

(Photo Courtesy Mike Elman)

“I believe that the Mayor would love people to stimulate the conversation about cancer, and making sure your loved ones, once in their 50s, go get tested, and hopefully detect it earlier rather than later,” said Councilman Frutos.

Mayor Rogers is grateful for all the support shown to him as he endures treatment and seeks rest but also urges residents to donate blood and become organ donors to help others in need.

“I have heard Will say ‘give life,’ and I believe it means a lot to him to hear about folks donating blood, signing up to be organ donors and in other ways contributing to health organizations that provide people new beginnings and enhanced survival when they face life-threatening conditions,” said Vice-Mayor Gabel-Luddy.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

LETTER: Burbank Councilman Reports Out to Citizens

Letter to the Editor:

When I took my seat on the Burbank City Council in May I said I wouldn’t engage in the council’s recent practice of using the “Reporting Out” period to announce events attended since the previous council session.  Among other reasons, I said – and still believe – the often lengthy readings offer more benefit to the council members than to citizens waiting for the council to get down to business.

The public is entitled to know what elected officials are up to in the city’s service when not at the dais.  But I’m certain there are means to accomplish that without adding to the wait for those watching meetings to see city business being done, and to be heard on those issues.

It’s taken me too long to create an alternative, and I can only apologize and blame the crush of putting a council schedule atop work and home schedules.  But I can now offer access to all the information every council member announces when Reporting Out, and a bit more.

Every month or two I’ll try to post on-line my calendar of city-business activities for the period since the last calendar was published.  These listings also offer a bit more information than we’re accustomed to getting.  To see the first example, just point your browser to www.WillRogersBurbank.com.

Thanks for checking it out and, as always, please contact me with comments or questions about this or any other city business at 818.238-5750, or by email at WRogers@burbankCa.gov.


Will Rogers
Member of the Burbank City Council

Will Rogers Second to Throw in Hat for Burbank City Council

Although it is still months away from when nominating papers can be taken out from the City Clerk, it is never to early for hopeful candidates to get a start.

There are going to be several key local issues of impact that will be facing Burbank for the new Council including a vote to allow Bob Hope Airport to relocate the terminal.

While there are two seats available this cycle, it has been known around private circles for a while that one Councilmember will not be seeking re-election. Longtime local resident and award-winning investigative journalist Will Rogers is the second to publicly has announced he will be running for election to the Burbank City Council. Chris Rizzotti announced back in March his intent for a seat.

Will Rogers

Will Rogers

“I look forward to an opportunity to serve this city and its citizens in a way the last 25 years have prepared me for to an almost absurd degree, and at a time when I think my skills and knowledge are especially needed,” Rogers said. “I’m certain my qualifications and record of service to the community far exceed those of known or expected candidates, and the immediate challenge is to get those details out to voters.”

“Scandals of the Bell city council exemplified the danger of electing council members not skilled in everything from reviewing budget line items, to being able to distinguish between staff’s best technical advice, and staff engaging in cheerleading and advocacy,” Rogers said. “I don’t imply any association to the corruption and self-enrichment seen in Bell, and strongly reject any hint of those in Burbank. But that city’s debacles demonstrate what can happen with council members not up to the task.”

Rogers is known locally for an investigative newspaper column he wrote for almost 15 years, including columns for the Los Angeles Times and the Burbank Leader. He then continued that work for several more years in an on-line version via the web site “WillRogersHome.com.” His earlier work also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, and several newspapers in the Times Community Newspapers group. He’s won nearly two dozen first and second place awards for his explosive, ground-breaking stories from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the Greater Los Angeles Press Club.

The record of those following up Rogers’ work run the gamut, from the Public Integrity Division of the LA County District Attorney’s office that initiated investigations premised on Will’s stories, to the reporter for a competing newspaper who submitted a blanket records request to Burbank’s City Hall simply asking for copies of whatever Rogers asked to see.

“I doubt there was a significant story, revelation or debate tied to municipal government, as well as all the state and congressional office holders representing Burbank and its neighbors, that wasn’t either first broken, or, at the very least, covered more in-depth in the space below my name,” Rogers said. “I know when city government works, when it doesn’t, and on both counts, why.”

Rogers, 57, has worked in Burbank for 25 years, and lived here since 1997. He and his wife, Nancie, who will serve as his campaign treasurer, have raised two children here. A former Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles Press Club, he’s also served more than a decade on the Board of Directors for a Burbank-based charitable nonprofit, including a term as Chair.

Rogers’ Campaign Manager is former Burbank Councilman Tim Murphy, who left the council at the end of his first term to serve as a Commissioner in the Los Angeles County Superior Courts. Today he’s an attorney practicing locally, a founder of Burbank’s Boys & Girls Club, and he’s active in several non-profit charitable organizations.

Rogers said, “City Hall has always been more important and most interesting to me because it’s the one government entity that has a daily, even hourly impact on every person in the city. From the water coming out of our tap, to the traffic we confront, to the home or business built down the street, to the police expected to show up when we call for help, what a city council does or does not do can make our lives significantly better or worse. And unlike most elected offices, council constituents literally live alongside and interact with their representatives every day.”

Rogers notes neither his Treasurer, nor his Campaign Manager will speak for him – only he is authorized to do that. “Voters deserve to talk directly to the person who would represent them, and shouldn’t have to wade through layers,” Rogers said. “It’s exactly why municipal government is so appealing and important.”

On Sunday, August 24 a campaign web site will go “live” at Rogers4Council.com. In addition to information about Will, voters will find lengthy and detailed “Issue Papers” spelling out his positions on some local, long-running debates, a Q & A, and even a list of promises he will and will not make to voters.

Burbank elections are held primarily via mail-in ballots, though there will be last-minute opportunities to vote in-person at a limited number of polling places. Burbank’s Primary Election will conclude on February 24, 2015, followed by a runoff General Election concluding April 14, 2025. If any candidate gets 50% plus one vote in the primary, he will be elected with facing the runoff.

“Virtually every election season in the last 20 years I’ve been urged to run for office, but for a variety of reasons I’ve always declined,” Rogers explained. “This time around I’m convinced there’s an urgent need for the experience, institutional memory and abilities I can provide on the city council.”