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Gloves Come Off in Burbank : Hastings Attacks Howard’s Role in Council Race

Times Staff Writer

Burbank Councilman Michael R. Hastings blasted Councilwoman Mary Lou Howard on Wednesday, saying she used “lies and distortions” against him and a council member defeated in Tuesday’s primary election.

Hastings, 35, who finished second among 14 candidates vying for three council seats, said Howard used her influence with voters and unions representing city employees in her quest to form a council coalition.

Howard called Hastings “a crybaby--someone who acts like a little child when he doesn’t get his own way.”

Howard and three of four employee unions did not endorse Hastings or Councilwoman Mary E. Kelsey, who lost her seat on the five-member body.

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Thomas Flavin, vice chairman of the city Planning Board and one of three candidates supported by Howard, received more than 50% of the vote Tuesday to win election outright.

Two other candidates backed by Howard, attorney Timothy Murphy and Mayor Al F. Dossin, finished third and fourth, respectively. They will compete against Hastings and political novice George Bonney for the remaining two seats in an April 11 runoff.

“Mary Lou Howard wants more than just 20% control of the council,” Hastings said. “She wants total control. And now too many people have been hurt. She should be ashamed to have any part in Mary Kelsey going out the way she is going out.”

Hastings cited mailers distributed by Howard and two unions over the weekend as particularly harmful to Kelsey. He said the mailers distorted his and Kelsey’s stands.

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Howard--who was not up for reelection since she is in the middle of her four-year term--said, “Mary has only herself to blame for losing. How can she sit there week after week and turn her back on residents? How can she possibly have expected to be reelected?”

Kelsey, 72, who was running for a second term, did not return several phone calls. She had been criticized by Howard and the unions, including the Burbank Fire Fighters Assn., Local 778, which said she had not lived up to her promise to slow development in the community.

“Everybody makes endorsements,” Howard said. “I’m not trying to control anything or exploit people’s trust in me. People don’t have to follow me.”

Mark Gillenson, president of the 140-member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 15, denied that his organization’s endorsements were influenced by Howard.

“Mary Lou Howard is uncannily accurate in knowing what’s good for this city,” he said. “We also hope we have a handle on what the city wants. So frequently we agree.”

Flavin, 42, said he recognizes the value of Howard’s endorsement. But, he added, “I ran as an independent, and that’s the way I see myself on the council.”

Flavin, an investment company executive, said his first priority will be to try to unify the council. “I think we need to get focused as a group to constructively address problems.”

He said the council must stop rampant growth. Along those lines, he said he will seek to determine whether a proposed $160-million shopping mall would be good for the community.

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Like the other candidates endorsed by Howard, Flavin favored a planned growth ordinance initiated by the councilwoman that won overwhelming voter approval Tuesday.

The ordinance, Measure 1 on the ballot, is designed to slow new apartment and residential development. It received more than 74% of the vote.

Into Effect Immediately

The ordinance, which goes into effect immediately, prohibits property owners from building more units on their land than allowed by city code. The law also prevents the City Council from making changes in the city’s master plan that would increase the number of residential units.

Murphy, 35, a Los Angeles County public defender, said he plans to keep stressing slow growth during the runoff campaign. He said Howard had significant influence in the election and on his success at the polls.

About Kelsey’s defeat, he said live cable broadcasts of the council’s weekly meetings tarnished her image more than Howard’s criticism did.

“This was the first election affected by TV,” Murphy said. “People have gotten a chance to see the council function in their living rooms. I think Michael Hastings’ image on television is very good, and he comes across really well. But I think Mary Kelsey and Al Dossin have terrible images and don’t come across well on TV.”

Kelsey was knocked out of the runoff by Bonney, a Los Angeles County Fire Department captain who ran without endorsements from any of the city’s unions or homeowner groups. Howard said Bonney, 55, had enough backing to be the council race’s “dark horse.”

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“I’m surprised,” said Bonney, who added that he accepted only a few small contributions during his campaign. “I don’t know why this happened. I’ve attended quite a few council meetings, and I guess people like the way I speak on TV.”

In other races, Burbank Board of Education President Audrey Hanson and Vice President Vivian Kaufman defeated two challengers, Denise Wilcox and S. Michael Stavropoulos.

City Treasurer Jack Whitney, running for his fifth term, was cast into the April runoff with Jim Rogers, a retired bank executive. City Clerk Merle Woodburn, who ran unopposed, won a second four-year term.


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