Another out-of-town resident gets Burbank in big trouble

 

Who in city hall thought it was a good idea for its “Burbank Hospitality Association” T-BID group to give a five-figure “donation” to help pass the now treasured Measure B?

Ah, the power of expedience. Whatever it takes to win, right? Just like deliberately setting up the citizens vote to occur during a consolidated election that was clearly not indicated to be so on the controlling ordinance. The whole idea behind the original Measure B was to make a new airport terminal a city issue on a city ballot.

But so what. Right?

This time though these same ambitious boosters are gonna get nailed. The Burbank Viewpoints website got a hold of the minutes from the BHA meeting that detail how this obviously illegal contribution occurred:

“Sunder Ramani, attended the [Burbank Hospitality Association] meeting to represent the ‘Committee for Yes on Measure B,’ a community initiative to educate the public on the importance of voting yes on Measure B during the November 8th election ballot. Mr. Ramani stated that the purpose of the initiative was to reach the 24,000 absentee voters of Burbank and educate them on the facts of Measure B. Mr. Ramani requested a financial contribution of $50,000 from the BHA which would help create and distribute mailers for this initiative. Since Mr. Ramani attended the meeting and spoke during Public Comment, the item was not on the agenda.”

Ramani lives in La Canada, not Burbank, and this isn’t the first time he’s tried to interfere with Burbank issues. He’s a proud pro-development booster and local real estate investor, which naturally makes him much more important to the City of Burbank than most of the rest of us.

Obviously. But this time it backfired.

Council candidate Greg Sousa dropped us a note this morning that discusses the compelling legal issues here. It seems there’s been a big complaint filed with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission:

Actually, we researched this question before taking the issue to the Council, and there’s little doubt as to how the FPPC will view TBID funds.

In 2001 the California Court of Appeal heard a case in which the issue was whether the Brown Act applied to the board meetings of a property owners association (POA), which had been created in conjunction with a business improvement district (BID), and to which the city had delegated administrative authority over BID funds.

The court held the Act did in fact govern such meetings. In arriving at its decision, the court observed that while the city delegated administrative functions to the POA, the city retained ultimate control over the administration of the BID funds so as to safeguard the public interest. Because the city retains such control, the POA was in fact an agency of the city, and was thus bound by the same laws and regulations as the public entity that is delegating its authority. Epstein v. Hollywood Entm’t Dist. II Bus. Improvement Dist., 87 Cal. App. 4th 862, 873 (2001).

The situation here is quite similar: The BHA is a municipal corporation created by the City Council, for the sole purpose of administering the tax revenues the City collects from local hotels as part of a TBID (as authorized by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, Cal. Sts. & High. Code § 36600 et seq.). According to BHA’s corporate filings with the California Secretary of State, the association’s address is 275 E. Olive Avenue (i.e., City Hall), and its agent for service of process, Susie Avetisyan, is a city employee. Thus, from a legal standpoint, the Burbank Hospitality Association is an agency of the City of Burbank, and is therefore bound by the same laws that bind the City of Burbank.

Because the City of Burbank could not legally contribute to the Yes on B campaign, neither could the Burbank Hospitality Association, and I would be somewhat surprised if the FPPC did not reach a similar conclusion.

Sousa’s an interesting character (check out his Facebook page to see his range of Favorites). Apparently he’s one of the people behind this complaint, and he also has legal training. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see this complaint prevail, and the FPPC rule against the City of Burbank on their sleazy expenditure? If so they can get Talamantes to help pay the fine — it might make him learn something.

Then someone can file a lawsuit about the obvious Brown Act violation that this shadowy “Hospitality” outfit also committed on that same night, according to the records that B/V also obtained. Even if the expenditure is legal, you can’t just vote on it quickly and unannounced.
 

 

 

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46 Comments

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46 responses to “Another out-of-town resident gets Burbank in big trouble

  1. Anonymous

    Yes, the business as usual, back room dealings have had the spot light shined on it again. And, Will Rogers, the pompous ass, stated many months again that he was aware of this 50K donation….yet he didn’t pursue it. So, he’s either incompetent or just simply hoped it would not get revealed as to how it actually transpired. Either way, please, let this be the smoking gun that gets him removed from Council.

  2. Slim

    It was always going to be “follow the money”. 50k was the biggest donation and it came after those pesky No on B people picked up momentum.

  3. Faux Fuddy Luddy

    the fact that Will knew about it and said nothing is made all the more appalling since he used to be an INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER. just the kind of thing that shulda set off alarm bells with him…jeez

    • semichorus

      Expedience.

      This is the same guy who willingly lied for the cause by claiming that those “beloved” (a concept that he had never personally applied before — quite the opposite) stairway rear-boarding procedures would be maintained at a new terminal.

      • Anonymous

        The rear boarding procedures
        WILL be maintained. The AA said so.

        • semichorus

          Not stairway; no it won’t with ramps either; and it’s not up to the fucking AIRPORT AUTHORITY anyway.

          It’s an airline decision solely, and none of them are going to use dual ramps. Proof? Where is it done?

          What people like btw too are the stairways, and no company’s going to pay $50 to $100 million on a 1936 boarding method.

          The lies continue. God, I cant wait to see this crowd nailed by the FPPC.

  4. Irwin Fletcher

    Hopefully Sousa’s got the goods- he’s on bad terms with BUSD and some parents for a previous “battery” incident. I’d like to believe it’s all hogwash and that he’s one of the good guys.

  5. Naro

    Once again, and always, the corruption is possible due to taxation. Yet another example of why we should never vote for or stand silent for any tax increases or new taxes. Taxes are what funds the corruption each and every time.

  6. 91505

    Wasn’t Ramani the guy that ran for assembly but didn’t even live here ? What a crook that guy is.

  7. The Leader (or if I am posting here I guess I should call it the Follower?) article on the $50k for B. http://www.latimes.com/socal/burbank-leader/news/tn-blr-me-fppc-20161209-story.html

  8. Slim

    This scumbag.
    Everyone said that except Ramani and his cronies, apparently. And check
    This Guy?
    Check out the end notes on Judy Sarquiz.

    Man, has that chick always been so sleazy? Maybe she wasn’t doing anything illegal, but what an ethical and moral conflict of interest she had back then!

    They put her in charge..? It’s also fascinating to see how from the beginning the city has used this fishy mail ballot scheme to manipulate campaigns through the use of timing irregularities. They did it a few years ago, too, when they mailed out ballots super early, thus depriving challengers from mounting extended campaigns against the incumbents. Guess who got helped by that “mistake”?

    • semichorus

      That was from an old piece I did. Interesting to see that someone’s going through years of my old postings…

      That early ballot mail “accident” was so totally corrupt, btw. It was clearly designed to help the known incumbents. People were sending them back before the challengers could even begin to campaign.

      Judy Sarquiz is and was a management tool. Her career in Burbank was (thank god) waylaid by her involvement in the police mess, and she’s now toiling away in the parks and rec graveyard– a clear demotion from her old Flad-buddy position.

  9. I reached out to MyBurbank and Fronnie with detailed information on this story and suggested they cover it. Wasn’t expecting MyBurbank to reply but Fronnie’s email mentioned through sources she had known about the story for a while. Not surprised, but pretty amusing.

    • Anonymous

      She didn’t know shit unless she read it on Facebook. She’s no investigative reporter if she was her fingers would be tired typing about the corruption in this town.

  10. Anonymous

    “Anonymous
    December 9, 2016 at 6:18 pm
    Good luck on that, twinkie. Bet that the FPCC decides that there is no there there?”

    Hey Anus, it’s not for me to decide. But, I do hope your master gets his due.

  11. Anonymous

    Sunder is a good guy. Move on from this BS

    • Cordelia

      Sure he is, and loyal too.
      They knew he would “soldier through” and deliver.
      Like any trained animal, he followed his orders.
      What reward was motivating him?
      That attorney that gets Public Money to shout “Brown Act”
      is scratching frantically to cover for ALL parties.
      The local paper failed to run the story today.
      Since the award of 50 Grand was NOT on the agenda,
      how was the request even considered?
      Did they declare an Emergency?
      Where’s the tape?
      Who controlled it?

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