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Mailbag: As election season draws to close, Burbank schools, City Council and poor conduct at recent debate prompt letters

Re: “Hecklers’ cries spur organizers to shut down Burbank congressional debate” Oct. 27. Civil discourse requires humility because we cannot learn if we are 100% certain we have all the answers. Being open-minded and being willing to listen to someone with whom you disagree could build trust, which is sorely needed is our world today.

Unfortunately, both humility and trust were in short supply in the audience at the Oct. 24 Candidates Forum held in the Burbank City Council Chambers and moderated by the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank. Supporters of challengers in the race for the House of Representatives 28th and 30th Districts were so convinced their candidate is better that they felt entitled to yell and jeer at the incumbents — despite pleas from League members to stop. These angry audience members prevented their candidates from engaging in the most fundamental need of a democratic society — civil discourse and debate by candidates for public office.

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Many audience members were so upset by the rude and obnoxious behavior they left the forum. League members urged the crowd to let the forum proceed without interruptions. We were not as successful as we would like but appreciate the support of Burbank police officers.

The League of Women Voters has been educating its members for nearly 100 years and has seen a lot worse, but it is still shocking when adults are unable to control their emotions in a public forum. It doubles the motivation of League members to continue our work of voter education. We want the community to have an opportunity to hear the positions and qualifications of the candidates and to debate important public policy issues.

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The forum will be replayed on Burbank Channel 6 (Charter Spectrum cable) and is available on demand on Burbank’s YouTube Channel: youtube.com/watch?v=hcA4SeTAxqU&t=360s. Please watch the entire forum. It is awkward because of the interruptions, but you have the right to hear the candidates before you vote. And please do vote!

Mary L. Dickson, President

Joan Hardie, Board Member & Forum Organizer

League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank

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Did you know George W. Bush is the president of the United States? The U.S. history textbook I use as an eighth-grade teacher in Burbank makes that claim. Textbooks were among the essential tools that schools had to sacrifice in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Ten years later we are still trying to repair education funding in California and in BUSD. Burbank educators have learned to mask the difficulties of teaching our kids with cuts to necessities, and as a result, have limited means to do more to maintain quality schools.

To add to our difficulties, the new state funding system puts BUSD at a disadvantage compared to other districts. Given this situation, it has been impossible to bounce back from cuts to our schools. Voting yes on Measure QS will give Burbank a local, steady revenue source that will help insulate the district from fluctuations in state funding.

The parcel tax revenue will be controlled and monitored locally. The money will help to maintain programs for children and ensure that basic needs like textbooks are not treated as a luxury. In addition, the revenue will help to make Burbank competitive in attracting and keeping quality educators in the face of a real teacher shortage. Finally, the idea posited by some that educators, who accepted pay cuts and no raises when the district encountered financial distress, would demand to bargain all of the parcel tax revenue go to salaries is unsubstantiated and belied by the actual actions of employees in this district.

I ask this as a homeowner and teacher for 28 years in Burbank: please join me in voting “Yes” on QS.

Susan Conway

Burbank

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I am writing to express my support of Measure QS. As a parent of two BUSD students, husband of a teacher, engaged community member and small business owner in Burbank, I see firsthand that our excellent school district is one of the great strengths of our community. Here in Burbank, we know how important the welfare of children is to their success and to the success of our community.

The attainment of a good education, both academically and in terms of character development, is one of the key components in the quest to help our young people realize their full potential as healthy, productive, responsible and caring citizens. The Burbank schools do a fantastic job of preparing our city’s youth for successful future studies and careers. But on a daily basis we read about the pressures California school districts are under due to inadequate school funding. Any measure that can help alleviate the pressure is welcome. We all benefit from a well-educated and healthy citizenry. Studies have shown that communities with excellent schools have more affluence, less homelessness and less crime.

I urge Burbank voters to vote “Yes” on Measure QS.

Paul Herman

Burbank

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Every year, the new contingent of Advanced Placement students would troop into my classroom, wildly enthusiastic. For the low-income students, I knew it would be a struggle.

What I learned from teaching them, and all students, was that taking the class and the test would boost their chances of applying for, entering and ultimately completing college. Statistics confirm this.

Hearing that the Burbank Unified School District was balancing its budget by eliminating financial assistance to low-income students, I was saddened.

This year, in Burbank, the number of AP students dropped, and the sense is that cost is the reason. This year, students paid $50 per test, rather than zero as in years past.

One issue is the unannounced cutting of the budget and lack of follow-up.

The second issue, even greater, is that the budget for these tests are up for approval every year and the district needs to scramble to cover the fees. This doesn’t give low-income students the confidence many of them need to enroll and persist in college-level courses even if they are prepared to do so. Students deserve a funding commitment that goes beyond just the current year. All students should have the tools they need to succeed. I hope you will agree and communicate with your local high school, especially if you are a parent, and with the school board. There needs to be a permanent plan to fund AP tests.

I also hope the district will explore two funding sources: the College Readiness Block Grant (expires this year) and an appropriation from the state budget specifically to cover AP low-income test fees in 2018-19.

Val Holwerda

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I doubt this will ever see print, but I am so disgusted with the mismanagement of the Burbank City Council.

Years ago (former Councilman) David Gordon advised them that all the development came at a higher price than they realized. The apartments and retail stores that were approved with lower costs to the developers were going to require increased infrastructure that was not budgeted in the plan.

Now, the additional city services are coming due and there is no money to support them. I see no reason for us to have the highest sales tax in the nation to bail out their shortsightedness.

John Pedersen

Burbank

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A look at the land use map of any major California city will show us why there is a chronic housing shortage. California metropolitan areas have suburbs and downtown civic centers. Apartment construction is generally prohibited in suburbs, where only single-family detached houses are allowed. This housing model is a legacy of the boom of suburban housing that started in the 1940s. Zoning laws enacted for the suburbs then excluded people of color and apartment buildings in order to keep low-income working people from living there.

The suburbs cover much of a city’s land. The downtown area is shared by government buildings, parking structures, medical buildings, hotels, motels, grocery stores, shops and dilapidated apartments the working poor occupy.

Today, members of the younger generation, born and raised in suburbs, want to live within walking distance of major cultural centers and public transportation. Developers see this new demand and build luxury apartments in the downtown area, and that is the only place they are allowed to build.

Rent control (a government rent subsidy) raises the demand for apartments for rent while the supply is restricted by land use and zoning regulation. The solution to the housing shortage, rent inflation and easing traffic is to increase the housing market by reforming land use and zoning regulations. A healthy supply of apartments for rent facilitates labor mobility and encourages business to establish their business where labor is available and affordable.

Albric Ghokasian

Burbank

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The Vigil of Healing held Tuesday on the City Hall steps was brought together by the Burbank Human Relations Council and the city of Burbank to show who we are as a community.

It was gratifying to see the overwhelming outpouring of community support in remembrance of those murdered in the Tree of Life Synagogue and to declare our unequivocal rejection of hate and prejudice that foster tragedies like the one in Pittsburgh.

This is who we are.

Some thought that a vigil should not be held during the election season and were suspicious that this event would become a political event because it was being held so close to voting day.

I understand that sentiment.

There may be no perfect time to remember human beings murdered for who they are, but there is no better time to leave politics at the door and focus on who we really are in the face of anti-Semitism and hate.

We are people of goodwill and love.

As Burbankers we know how to extend ourselves — to neighbors, friends, family members — and continue to engage in conversations that promote healing.

This is from a remembrance I read recently: “In lieu of flowers, please join us in prayers for the progress of her soul and send flowers to a beloved in your own family and cherish the time you have with them in these swiftly passing days we share in this world.”

Emily Gabel-Luddy

Mayor of Burbank

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When I read Joyce Rudolph’s column the other day, I felt like I was socked in the gut. Just devastating. While beautifully written — or perhaps because it was so beautifully written — it hit like a freight train. Joyce has been a part of all of our individual and our organization’s lives for years. She is one of the kindest people anyone could meet and has always been a wonderful cheerleader for our Burbank Historical Society.

Joyce, we admire and we know you for your courage and persistence. We are in this fight with you.

Susan Hodgson

The Burbank Historical Society

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