Panel focusing on City Charter

first_imgBURBANK – Fifteen Burbank residents are making history, converging to reform the city’s outdated charter, written in the 1920s when there was a tax collector, a police judge and when Burbank leaders counted cash in vaults. Over the next year, the Charter Review Committee will review arcane language – all the wheretos, whereases and hereins – as well as whether the city clerk and treasurer should be elected posts and how often the City Council should meet. The panel will also consider redefining the roles of the city’s advisory committees and boards. The committee, which meets again on Jan. 9, will draft its recommendations for City Council, and ultimately, voter approval, by 2007. “The previous charter was written for the 20th century,” said committee Chairwoman Carolyn Jackson, a Burbank resident since 1977. “When the previous charter was written, I’m not certain that there were telephones in homes. I’m sure that people paid in cash for their property taxes. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake “The charter we will recommend to the City Council will address issues of 2005 and lead our city into the second half of the 21st century.” Burbank’s 28-page City Charter covers 69 items from the roles of elected and nonelected city officials to how to carry out elections. Written in 1926, the charter was approved by voters, infused with a sense of a stronger voice in city government, in a special election on Jan. 4, 1927. As issues come up, officials edit, delete, amended and make obsolete charter sections that are no longer relevant. The city’s health officer, tax collector, and police judge, who resolved city citations from a local police station, have all disappeared. But the city is embarking on a big rewrite. “This is an overhaul. I don’t think we have given it the comprehensive look that it deserves,” City Manager Mary Alvord said. “We’re going to look at every sentence, every letter, every word.” JoAnne Speers, the executive director of the Institute For Local Government, which provides research for cities about charter reform and other issues, said undertaking these kinds of overhauls is a tedious and time-consuming process. “Some charters are pretty complex,” she said. “It can be a big task, especially if it’s lengthy.” Across the state, there are 108 charter cities, that at any given time are mulling changes and editing charters. Glendale updated its charter this year. Los Angeles finished its massive charter reform in 2000 to head off secession drives, increase accountability and empower residents. One of the big topics for Burbank is trying to figure out whether the city clerk and treasurer should be elected or nonelected. The issue arose years ago when former Councilman Bob Kramer said he wanted to run for treasurer, and some questioned whether that post should be reserved for someone with a background in finance. “What skills does it take for treasurer?” asked Jackson. “This is what we’ll discuss.” The committee will mull the frequency of weekly City Council meetings, some of which can run till the wee-hours of the night, and can be consumed by three periods of comment from residents who are allowed two and four minutes at the podium. “Having sat on council, it’s far worse today than when I was on council,” said Charter Review Committee member Vincent Stefano, who was a councilman from 1973 to 1977. “We had our share of gadflies, but there was really a more controlled situation. Everybody was of one mind that is to get the city’s business done first and to allow a reasonable period for comment. I think it’s something that should be examined.” Another topic will be about giving more clout to the five-member Burbank Police Commission. Currently, this panel meets quarterly to get updates from the Police Department about crime, and how to keep residents informed about public safety issues. Joe Gunn, a member of the Burbank Police Commission and former Los Angeles Police Commission executive director, said he is satisfied about the commission’s role. He said that in the five years he’s been on the Burbank Police Commission, one person has showed up at a meeting. “We don’t get any complaints,” said Gunn, who is not a member of the Charter Review Committee. “Customer satisfaction is very high.” Jackson looks forward to taking on all issues related to city functions, but balks at the question of whether she and her co-panelists are making history. “We’re not making history,” she said. “We’re just writing a document.” Jason Kandel, (818) 546-3306 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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