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Civility and Decorum Have Left the Chamber

Imagine following all of the rules of decorum, only to be slandered by a city council member.

The lack of civility of being labeled in this manner should only be fit for a reality TV show, because to the uninitiated it can be shocking. But this isn’t fiction — this is a Burbank City Council meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting was charged with strong emotions on several issues. A vocal group demanded the city condemn the war in the Middle East, while others voiced concerns over a proposed rent ordinance. This ordinance would be more restrictive than the state’s mandated rent control, costing an estimated $6 million annually to operate a rent registry, governance board and attorney review panel. It’s natural to question the necessity of such measures and to ask which services would be cut to fund this or who would bear the financial burden — renters or housing providers?

Amidst this tumult, it was disappointing to witness a council member lash out at a public commenter who had made a public records request about their actions during a board meeting. Under the Brown Act, this meeting is governed by strict transparency requirements.

According to Government Code § 54950, the Brown Act ensures that the actions and deliberations of public agencies are conducted openly. It mandates that any person attending such meetings must have access to the communications and activities of council members, commissioners or board members. If these officials are making notes, texting or using devices during a meeting, the public has the right to inspect these activities to ensure transparency and prevent secretive communications.

The conduct of the council member was a stark deviation from these principles, raising serious concerns about their ability to represent our community effectively. As one public commenter aptly put it, “You are gaslighting us,” and I couldn’t agree more.

City council meetings must uphold the principles of the Brown Act, ensuring free and open deliberations. Personal attacks on public commenters undermine public trust and the integrity of the democratic process.

Your vote matters.

David Donahue


First published in the June 29 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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