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Public should demand an end to bonuses

July 08, 2011

Thirty-nine thousand, two-hundred eighteen dollars later, Burbank citizens finally get to see which city employees received bonuses (“Bonus payout tally $4 million,” July 3). That’s how much the city must pay in court costs after a judge ordered Burbank officials to release bonus recipient names.

It would have cost nothing if city officials had been forthcoming with this information. They contended, however, that making these names public violated employee privacy provisions.

Now that the lists are public knowledge, it’s understandable why City Hall feared revelation. It is appalling.

In a four-year period, Ron Davis, the head of Burbank Water and Power, received $79,000 in merit bonuses, with a $22,000 award for fiscal year 2009-10. Then last year, he came before the City Council and said he couldn’t effectively run the department unless utility rates were raised. The council gave the okay for rate increases and also gave Davis a generous pay increase.

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Pay increase, merit bonus, it’s all the same — more money in Davis’ pocket, paid for, of course, by taxpayers who are also saddled with the increased electric and water rates imposed upon them.

Another interesting bonus is the $10,000 awarded to Christopher Daste, director of Park, Recreation and Community Services. Upon assuming this post, wasn’t he immediately aware of the problem at DeBell, the city’s municipal golf course? It’s been ongoing for several years.

No, Daste waited until the situation became a crisis, then he appeared before the City Council to ask for a $2-million bailout package to keep the operation afloat. He certainly doesn’t warrant a merit bonus in any amount.

This next bonus payout is not nearly as egregious as the two cited. This one is only $2,200, awarded to Ericka Reinke, former Mayor Anja Reinke’s daughter. It would be interesting to know how many relatives of council members and upper management personnel are on the bonus list.

Once again, council members Jess Talamantes, Dave Golonski and Gary Bric have their names written all over this giveaway. After all, they are the same three council members who enthusiastically supported their favorite charity, the DeBell debacle, at taxpayer expense.

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