First published in the Feb. 12, 2022, print issue of the Burbank Leader.
A member of the Burbank Water and Power Board could lose his seat after refusing to comply with the city’s vaccination mandate — even though he says he’s vaccinated.
Paul Herman, a businessman and board president of the Boys and Girls Club’s board of directors, told the City Council this month that he would not provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or an exemption request in accordance with Burbank’s recently implemented policy.
He explained to the Leader in an email that he believes members of city commissions and boards — which are staffed by volunteers and have been operating virtually for most of the pandemic — should not have to provide their medical information “without the presence of some existential threat.”
A report to the City Council said that Herman is the only board or commission member out of compliance with the vaccination mandate, which also applies to municipal workers and went into effect in January.
Herman provided the Leader with an image of his vaccination card, adding that he supports the coronavirus vaccine and that both his wife and children are fully vaccinated.
“When we’ve reached this level of absurdity that enough is enough with these petty dictates,” he said in his email. “We must ask the City Council if they are truly sincere in their desire to protect people or do they merely want to punish people that don’t bend to their will. Frankly, I am not the type to bend the knee.”
The City Council was scheduled to consider dismissing Herman from his role during its Tuesday meeting, but agreed to postpone the item until next week because of the absence of one of its members, Councilman Bob Frutos.
Herman also told the Leader that he takes issue with the city’s vaccination mandate as it applies to municipal employees.
“Having experienced firsthand the stress and pressure of being compelled to go against one’s own personal values I can state unequivocally that I stand in solidarity with all of the [International Brotherhood of Electrical] workers, police and firefighters, and all city employees and their respective bargaining units that have had to suffer through the heartache, intimidation and fear of being compelled to comply with this mandate or risk losing their livelihoods,” he said.
“I think it is shameful that the city is threatening to terminate these employees, and shame on us all if we allow that to happen,” he added.
Herman told his colleagues on the BWP Board of his intent to oppose the city’s mandate during its Feb. 3 meeting, noting that he expects to be removed from their ranks. Multiple other members praised his service as a board member, with some saying they would contact the City Council to ask that they allow him to remain with the group.
Herman has served on the BWP Board since 2015; his term is currently slated to expire in 2024. A realtor and member of the executive committee on the Burbank Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, Herman unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2020.