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Burbank paper sues for details on bonuses paid to hundreds of city workers

The Burbank Leader newspaper has filed suit against the city of Burbank, seeking detailed information on millions of dollars in merit-based bonuses paid to city workers over the last three years.

The suit says the city has refused to provide the requested information.

The newspaper, a sister publication of the Los Angeles Times, said city officials initially provided a lump sum for 2009-10, broken down by employee or bargaining groups. The bonuses came to $1 million.

Out of about 1,500 Burbank city employees, 445 workers received bonuses, according to the overview provided by the city. So far this year, $228,449 in bonuses have been paid out, according to the city.

Repeated requests for more detailed information such as names, titles and bonus amounts distributed to Burbank employees were denied, prompting the lawsuit, the newspaper said.

Burbank officials have argued that releasing the bonus pay information would violate employee privacy provisions.

But Karlene W. Goller, an attorney for the Los Angeles Times, and Karl Olson of the San Francisco-based law firm Ram & Olson argued in Los Angeles County Superior Court filings that legal precedent comes down on the side the newspaper.

"I think the bonus structure that Burbank has is very unusual in its generosity and very unusual in its secrecy," Olson said.

-- Gretchen Meier

Comments () | Archives (11)

Hey a big thank you to the Burbank Leader and its mentor the LA Times uncovering another of the cozy 'scratch mine and yours gets scratched' back end's of cozy city government and another of those 'exempt' cutbacks from Gov. Jer-dawg's reduction in force - labor unions oh I meant government labor unions. After all those are the ganefs de' Jer-dawg rode to victory - govt. unions ... always working always stealing always demokratiche always 'SEIU' land.

One thing true mentioned by Shirley Sherrod 'Who ever heard of anyone getting fired from a government job?' Shirley you're right girlfriend - no one ever gets fired for working for the man especially if said 'man' is a taxpayer....


I don't see anything wrong with bonuses no matter how large. The taxpayers approved this years ago. Thousands of once middle income government workers are getting a pension over $200,000 a year. it is not their fault. Taxes must be increased to pay them.

Taxpayers need to stop whining and pay up.

How nice for Burbank that they can give "bonuses" with taxpayer funds.

It can just as easily be unapproved. Elections are coming for Burbank. If a little honesty and transparency are too much to ask, then so be it. Incumbents out.

Just what we always thought was going on, but were pooh-pooh by the LA TIMES as dumb conservatives.

Public service, indeed. More like self-service.

The taxpayers of Burbank have every right to know. Simple as that.

Turning over names, titles and bonus amounts for publication by the local newspaper is asking too much of the city. I would not want my local paper publishing my name, job title and bonus amount (if I received one) without my written permission, because I could become a target for all kinds of salespeople, wackos, and charities seeking donors. Oh, let me not forget reporters seeking comments.

I understand the old argument, the public has a right to know. Bonus amounts - fine. We do have a right to know how public funds are spent. LA Times and many other media outlets are taking some cheap shots and feeding into general public anger and angst about jobs, benefits and an ugly undertone of jealousy. We the public do not need to know names.

Hey, LA Times/Burbank Leader, why don’t you start publishing the names, titles and salaries, and bonus amounts, if any, of Times employees, starting with the CEO and working down to janitors? Does the issue look different if your personal information where to be made public?

The public has a right to know about this issue. This is a public institution paid for with taxpayer money.
I think in the end you will find this is a non-issue though. It seems the bonuses are being paid across the board to improve productivity and not to a small number of employees or upper management types or to line pockets. Of course disclosing the numbers will tell.
If Burbank city government is confident of their administrative choices they should be happy to open the books to show everyone what good choices they are.

The public employees enhancements have surpassed the private, courtesy of the taxpayer.
What happened ???

Three cities that have always been under the radar are Glendale, which thanks to Caruso's shenanigans is getting coverage, Burbank and Pasadena. We have a local rag "Pasadena Star News" that provides little coverage. Can the Times start more extensive coverage of all these cities.


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