Chickenshit, meet Chickenshit

Birds of a feather and all that.

Lifelong Burbank resident and local-small-business owner Chris Rizzotti received an endorsement from Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) in his bid for the Burbank City Council.

“It’s an honor to be endorsed by active and influential leader in our community like Assemblyman Gatto,” said Rizzotti. “We share a belief that public service is about working tirelessly to improve the lives of the people you represent. If elected to the Burbank City Council, I look forward to working with Assemblyman Gatto to create a better, more prosperous Burbank.”

Rizzotti announced his intention to run in March, and has been working tirelessly ever since, meeting with community members and sharing his vision for a better Burbank.

Hey, at least he’s been out there, and we know where he stands on at least a few of the important issues in town. Candidate Rogers by contrast publishes his august position papers from Mt. Olympus on Pepper and then ducks the public appearances.

Gatto lost a lot of points with us a few years ago by the way he and his people enjoyed treating their political opponents. Acting thuggishly in a public place and then trying to get a public employee fired in retaliation for their speech is not our idea of being a good Democrat. But then is there such a thing these days? They’re all sellouts, aren’t they?

Rizzotti too is a bit of a thug, and which we’ll get into more some day  — we have some good stories about him. But with that new wife around can you really blame him for his hot temperament? She’s the Cruella de Ville of the animal set.

In terms of sneakiness and the eagerness to fuck with people though Rogers has clearly got him beat. Will gets a big kick out of messing with people behind the scenes, and so we can just imagine what it will be like if he ever gets elected. He’ll go out of his way to turn city hall into something resembling the Borgia era.

Not a good selection so far.

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But they were going to do that anyway

The MyBurbank site ran a much better article on last week’s council meeting than the Leader. They also brought up this later point in the discussion about Talaria, which we should have mentioned at the time:

Gordon was also unhappy about the additional apartments, totaling 18 more than is usually allowed under the city’s general plan. However, the city required offsets for the approval of the additional units, which Gabel-Luddy felt were proportionate. Such offsets incorporated a requisite Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification declaring the development “green.”

Here’s the problem with that deal: the Cusumanos were already planning on making Talaria a LEED project in order to help get it through. So that was some concession/extraction/offset they were forced to make then, eh?

He told these kids more about the project than he ever told the council. It’s right in the video, about how they thought staff would like the fact it was going to be a LEED project, and how this would help clear it through:

No, a real offset would have been affordable housing in exchange for the added density. But as we mentioned earlier, the city attorney lied about that one when she told the council it didn’t apply.


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Burbank’s new built-in, automatic presumption that Big Growth is its future

What if they want to discuss a no-growth future instead? From tomorrow night’s “Sustainability” meeting:

VIII. DISCUSS THE COMMISSION’S FOCUS ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY At its August 18, 2014, meeting, the Commissioners agreed to discuss how to balance their focus on economic, social, and financial sustainability items for the City’s future growth and progress. The Commission may engage in discussion on how the group would like to balance their focus on achieving urban sustainability, promoting healthy economies, and advancing social equities based on the Urban Environmental Accords and the City’s Sustainability Action Plan. The Commission may entertain a motion regarding further action on this issue if desired.

What if they don’t want to do any of these obviously expansive things?

All of the above actually meaning: “What kind of big projects do we need to bring into Burbank in order to fulfill these goals that we are arbitrarily setting out as an excuse to exploit the city for more development?”

“And how can we the Commission help?”

Because that’s what this sustainability ideology is all about. The above verbiage is designed to get this nothing-to-do-yet commission to start acting as a PR flack for new business and new projects. “We need sustainable projects and so that means — we need more projects!”

The council -majority approved this evasive crap last year — this license to develop bigtime here in Burbank– and now staff is running with it as a published mandate for “future growth.” The language is oh-so-feelgood in its intent, too — as if it’s the Sierra Club come to town — but really, it’s all just pretext for bringing in lots more outside money and big development.

For “progress” reasons of course. And “healthy economies.”

So always keep in mind that “sustainability” has nothing to do with conservation or preservation or limited resources or ecology or “Small is Beautiful,” even though the language is disingenuously chosen to make it seem as such. It’s not Ansel Adams we have going on here with this — it’s the 21st-century equivalent of the Oklahoma Land Rush.

Come and get it– but just be sure you dress up those windows a bit.

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Some remembrance

Sounds like a nice occasion…

Andrianna Vaccare was remembered by loved ones as a “beautiful soul” who loved her two daughters, could recite every U.S. president and was a huge fan of Eric Clapton.

More than a dozen loved ones gathered outside the Joslyn Adult Center in Burbank on Wednesday evening to lay flowers and candles under the tree where the 35-year-old mother was found dead on Monday.

Vaccare was raised in Burbank and graduated eighth grade from Saint Finbar School. The class of 1993 has remained tight-knit, meeting up every year at the school’s annual fundraiser, Saint Finbar Fiesta, which Vaccare last attended two years ago.

Too bad the local court stenographers then had to ruin it:

“Unfortunately her addictions got the best of her,” she said. “The person who left us recently was not the girl we all knew.”

A month ago, Vaccare reached out to Jenna to tell her she loved and missed her. Vaccare also told her at the time that everything in her life was great.

“So when I heard the news, it saddened me so much because I had no idea,” Jenna said.

Police found her body under a tree outside the Joslyn Adult Center in Burbank on Monday afternoon. Based on the bags and belongings that she had with her, police said she appeared to be homeless. Police reportedly had contact with her in August for an alcohol-related offense at the same park.

What a pleasant valedictory. So why did the paper mar it like that? There’s also no examination here of whether or not she was in fact “homeless” but for the “police” statement, nor any explanation of how this could even be the case given the outpouring of concern. How can such a state be explained if everybody cared so much?

Was she really in fact homeless? Or is the Leader just traffficking in this police speculation because it’s the most sensational? Are the Burbank police once again libeling a victim of their own overzealous behavior?

What was the deal behind her recent BPD arrest? We suspected last week that it was just a park incident and we were right. Which we think naturally calls into question whether she was actually guilty of the original charge in the first place. And we also pointed out — contrary to what most people think — that there’s nothing at all illegal about being “drunk” in public. The law is only supposed to come into play when the subject is either an actual danger to the public or is obstructing a public thoroughfare.

Because it’s doubtful that she was doing anything culpable like this in a park, why did the Burbank police arrest her? Did it contribute to her current mental or financial state? Was it the same park? Perhaps her death in a public park was her final statement of protest.

Alas, we will never really know what happened, if only because the professional journalists around here insist on printing just the salaciousness. That, and the rank sentimentality — in the same schizophrenic, back-and-forth style you see on the TV tabloids and crime exposé shows.


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It always comes down to money with these people, doesn’t it?


Imagine wanting to celebrate this kind of thing. Or highlight it in a news story.

And why does this crowd always have to pull their damned trailers into Burbank?

Family’s road trip is driven by philanthropy

Burbank is one stop on a national tour of charity and volunteerism.

In his 25 years as a financial planner in Phoenix, Gregg Murset noticed two things his successful clients all had in common: They worked hard and they were smart with their money.

Hoping to instill those values in his own children, Murset set out with his wife Kami and their six kids on a 10,000-mile road trip. They’re calling it the “Working Across America Tour,” and it involves doing odd jobs for charities along the way with the goal of teaching philanthropic values.

The family was in Burbank Thursday on the western portion of the tour doing some chores and visiting residents at Casa de la Providencia, a low-income independent living facility operated by United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

“It really is great what they’re teaching their kids,” said Ron Cohen, president and chief executive officer of United Cerebral Palsy. “It’s something we need to teach our kids today who are so wired.”

So … what is it that they’re teaching them?

The [ charity] work is a “natural extension” of another effort Gregg Murset started and is promoting on the family’s tour — a smartphone app called My Job Chart. He said it’s a tool to help parents to teach kids about hard work, money management skills and social responsibility.

“It’s kind of like finance 101,” Murset said.

The Apple and Android app works a bit like an old-fashioned chore list, “it’s just in your pocket now,” Murset said. In the app, parents create chores and give them a point value, then assign them to their children.

Children earn points for completing the assignments, points they can save in the app or redeem for cash from their parents — a penny per point — for spending or sharing. For example, 1,000 points earned for chores at Providencia could be spent as a $10 donation to United Cerebral Palsy.

Yuuck. Why not teach these kids instead the value of doing something for its own sake? Why does there have to be points and money involved?

Yeah ok, maybe that’s too quaint for this new century of ours. After all, Chromebooks don’t pay for themselves.

So here’s an idea. Why doesn’t our own Burbank Unified School District start paying their students for getting good grades and test scores? What a motivational tool it can be!

They can even pay ‘em for reading books, too. Fiction of course would not be worth as much (in fact, maybe we could disallow it entirely. That would probably be better).

It’ll be win-win for everyone. The schools will benefit reputation wise (just look at those soaring property values!) and the kids will quickly learn that discipline, hard work and having good character can indeed pay off.

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Gut Shabbos !


Time to rest after a horrible week.


Rabbi William Kramer in Bagel Ad, Los Angeles


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Those were the days

Someone at the Leader right now is highlighting on their Twitter page some old LA Times photos from the 30s.

Don’t they feel bad about this, by comparison?

Not LAT photo. No resale. Must contact Huntington Library.

(A shot of Times city editors at work)

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Journalistic Objectivity

The second paragraph here is odd enough on its own, and we’ll get to that in a second:

Burbank Unified Supt. Jan Britz announced she would retire this June, ending 40 years of work in education that began when she was a middle school math teacher.

District spokewoman Kimberley Clark emailed a news release Thursday afternoon, saying, “Dr. Britz shares that education is changing and it’s time for new leadership in BUSD.”

Britz herself was not immediately available for comment.

But for the moment, look what comment is attached to the bottom of this news article. It’s no wonder these local institutions never get any scrutiny:

FireShot Screen Capture #156 - 'BUSD superintendent to step down - Burbank Leader' - www_burbankleader_com_the818now_tn-blr-busd-superintendent-to-step-down-20141016,0,1930376_story

Yeah, everything’s a big coffee klatch around here. So much for asking the tough questions.

The second paragraph of the article is an odd one. It’s not very well written. Did the email message contain that remark, or was it added by the author of the message? This would be even weirder.

Initially you think the super is just announcing her retirement after 40 years. But the added note makes it sound like something culpable is going on, like she’s either leaving for cause or is being pushed out.

Time for new leadership? What does that mean?

It suggests an inadequacy, doesn’t it? Or perhaps politics of some sort. Which means she might not be missed by everyone.

One thing for sure though: these cozy local reporter/columnists certainly aren’t willing to explore that wavelength.



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Hello Dere !




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Why is the City Clerk registering voters at Woodbury?

This story in today’s paper that the Burbank City Clerk’s office will be registering voters at Woodbury University comes across as odd. Since when does the Clerk’s office actually go out and register people en masse like that as an organized activity?

And Woodbury’s not even in Burbank in the first place. So why Woodbury? Why now?

Where else will this be happening?

As part of an effort to boost voter turnout, the Burbank City Clerk’s Office will be at the Woodbury University Street Fair on Saturday to help register voters.

The fair runs from 2 to 4 p.m. on the university’s main quad. The event caps off Woodbury Week and will feature games, student organization booths, arts and crafts, food trucks and more.

City Clerk’s Office staff will be on hand to register new voters and those who need to reregister after moving to a new permanent address, changing their name or change political party affiliation.

It’s kind of late in the November election cycle to be doing this, isn’t it. And how do registration drives boost “turnout”? They don’t.

Even better, whose idea was this? Where did it come from in city hall? Has the Clerk ever done this before around Burbank? We don’t recall such an organized street-site effort in the past.

We’ll cut to the quick: it looks suspicious as hell.

In our view, this is not being done for November’s election —  it’s being done in anticipation of this spring’s highly fought election battles in Burbank. Yeah it’s a street fair, but it’s mostly students. Those kids up there are fully exploitable and vulnerable to influence, and the way these recent Burbank elections have gone it only takes a few votes to make a huge difference in  the results.

The college itself is also highly conservative and as boosterish as hell when it comes to supporting the regular Good Old Boy organizations in town. Leadership Burbank, anyone?

So we smell a rat here– someone obviously thought it would be a great idea to go out and create hundreds of new local voters who would be more prone (or manipulated) to vote for the traditional establishment positions. Which means big-growth candidates and a big new airport terminal.

Even more suggestive, do Woodbury students live in Burbank? They don’t, because the dorms are located in LA. The college plays a name game with their address because only a tiny sliver of the campus is within our city limits. Woodbury itself is located in what we like to call Gary Bric’s Burbank, that mysterious  Zip Code Land which looks suspiciously like Sun Valley…

The next couple of elections in Burbank will be major ideological battles. We put nothing past some of these people in town — any kind of petty advantage they see they’ll most certainly try to take advantage of. A great # of those new registrants will likely be college kids.

Don’t laugh: a small voting bloc of conservative, pro-business Woodbury students could make a huge difference in our elections, especially if egged on by their administration. The stakes are high this time for the pro-growthers, and we could imagine this kind of petty manipulation being seen as something to pursue. That’s how mickey mouse these Good Old Boys are, and cynical.

Even more to consider, do you really trust these city people now, or even the supposed independence of the city clerk’s office? Traditionally the CC in our town takes their orders from the city manager. They act more like city employees than the elected officials that they are– or are supposed to be!


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Leader gets it wrong about Talaria property estimate — and it helps the Cusumanos

Sure enough, just like our hapless council majority, the local opinion maker couldn’t figure out what the Gordon discussion on the Talaria “remnants” was all about.

Here’s what they’re saying about it tonight:

The sale price of the city’s property — which an appraiser valued at just under $1 million on the low end and $3.7 million on the high end — was another point of contention Gordon raised during the council’s discussion.

He [David Gordon] argued that because the land is critical to the developer’s plans, “it’s absolutely worth every penny” of the nearly $4 million valuation.

The $1.2 million purchase price represented a steep discount of around 70% because of the irregular shape and location of the plots, which include part of Avon Street, an alley and a strip of land on the proposed site, according to city staff.

The last paragraph is what staff tried to claim, but there were not two appraisals for this same set of parcels. And certainly not two appraisals from the city’s own private appraiser.

Here’s what really happened, taken straight from the staff report:

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Reading carefully, you can see that there were not two appraisals. What happened is that the appraiser first delivered the higher amount, and then someone else (staff?) applied an arbitrary and fishy “discount” on the original number. Notice in the above that the report does NOT say that the appraiser came up with the second number as some kind of viable option, which is what the Leader is clearly saying occurred.

Staff as well only calls the two figurings a “methodology that was used.”  That’s a cute trick to cloud the proceedings. But the first # was the official appraisal, and the second was the lowball mickey-mouse “discount.”

Now, whether this lower number had the imprimatur of the official private-party appraiser is something to consider. The article says “yes” to this suggestion but with no proof. It makes it sound like R.P Laurain came up with both figures, and this mistaken assumption (or misreading) helps to legitimize the ridiculous lowball discounted figure.

In other words, the Leader completely missed the point about last night’s discussion. There was one estimate, and then a phony city-applied discount that benefited the developer.

Now the real proof will be if we can see the original appraiser’s report on the topic. We suspect that Laurain did indeed factor in the other limitations of the “remnants,” and did not in fact consider the property as being just like an open and intact parcel in the middle of the Talaria lot. As City Manager Scott stated was the case last night when he tried to save staff from Gordon’s intense questioning…**

But for now, nothing in the staff report says that this same appraiser came up with two different but equally viable numbers. That’s a Cusumano fantasy.

** Now that the CM has been caught in a possible fabrication here– and one that benefits the Cusumanos financially for a couple of mil, let’s see how easily they’ll release this appraiser document. That independent report will definitely explain the company’s rationale for the bigger figure– and we strongly suspect that it’s not based on what the CM says it is.


BTW, here’s another mistake from the same issue, in an article about the city clerk registering voters at Woodbury: .

In order to register to vote in Burbank, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of the city and at least 18 years old.

Not so. Anyone can register to vote in Burbank. But only Burbank residents can vote in Burbank elections. Big difference. The county figures it all out in the end.

So … is our city clerk’s office only going to register Burbank residents up there? The paper makes it sound like it. If so, they’re breaking the law (Elections Code 2158 (b)(2)). No one registering voters can discriminate against potential registrants in any way. Imagine what would happen if they could– and occasionally you’ll hear about GOP  people refusing to register known Dems, that kind of thing.

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A good moment (updated)

Worth keeping in mind. These guys aren’t even decent doubletalkers any more.

People in Burbank should demand to see the city appraiser’s own report to staff about how much these parcels are worth, and why, rather than take staff’s word about what the higher number took into consideration:

Remember that it was the city’s own appraiser who said the property was worth the much higher amount. Not Dr. Gordon, and not the Man in the Moon. Staff came up with the arbitrary lowball figure (based upon the Cusuanos’s sub-million offer) which they then treated as some kind of rational “compromise.”

(UPDATE: in review, you gotta love the CM’s talk too about “remnant properties,’ as if they’re not worth much because of the name he’s given them. They’re vital pieces of acreage that any development would be needing to use there, not just Talaria. There’s nothing “fallow” or marginal about them. But no doubt the city’s appraiser also took this factor into consideration — fully intact parcels of this same size together would be worth substantially more than $4 million in that same commercial neighborhood. Let’s add up the square-foot total and find out.

This means Scott was clearly misrepresenting what the higher appraised amount took into consideration. It was NOT the same amount that a fully intact parcel “in the middle” of the acreage would garner on the open market. But that’s how he was trying to play off the $3.7 million that Gordon and everyone else (except the city and the Cusumanos) want to see rightfully charged for those “remnant” parcels. The city is in effect saying that their own appraiser made a mistake, but that they’ll correct it — with the help of the Cusumanos’ own lowball $900,000 estimate, of course.)


Where have all of our un-engaged council candidates gone off to lately? Lots of people seem to want to run for office next spring, but they don’t seem to want to involve themselves in the local issues.

Where do they stand on this subject, or the project in general?

What are these now, ceremonial positions? An anointment from on high? Has the city council become an honorary advisory group?


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Why Fido can’t read:

Hey, it’s better than Mom and Dad.

The pooches aren’t judgmental, and so they won’t hurt the kids’ feelings when they mess up or make mistakes. Lord knows you don’t ever want to correct our children nowadays, especially in reading or the arts.

It looks like between this and those new Chromebooks they’re getting, pretty soon we won’t need any more teachers in our schools, either.

Menopause. It can certainly be a killer.

(Shhhh – don’t tell The Protectorates about this. They’ll immediately demand that Dr. Gordon and all of his heartless Jewish friends in business buy one of these dogs for each of our schools. Or else…)


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Burbank, 2135

We got a preview of Bob Frutos’ vision of our future, and boy, is it a gas!


Fully sustainable!

The best part is, you can work and play all in one spot!


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