AS IF YOU ASKED
Burbank Police chiefs never go away -- they only change titles. That
came to mind this week when interim City Manager Mary Alvord named
former BPD chief Dave Newsham to serve as her interim assistant city
manager. Alvord’s move follows a tradition established by her
predecessor, Bud Ovrom.
During his 18-year tenure, Ovrom set a pattern of calling on
retired police chiefs for return engagements, including Newsham and
his forerunner, Glen Bell. Former chief Bell was brought back to
conduct internal investigations, and Newsham was tapped to serve as
an interim director of information technology. He also served briefly
as an appointed Burbank commissioner on the Airport Authority.
Perhaps the only person brought back as often as former police
chiefs is the wife of a former police chief. Marcia Bell has been
called back for, among other things, at least two rounds as interim
At an event Monday to salute Ovrom on the occasion of his
retirement, there were rumors of Newsham’s return to City Hall. But
there was a tight lid on the talk because no one wanted to start
things off with Alvord in her new job by giving her reason to doubt
As for Monday’s event, it was a success by any definition, packed
with big laughs and a few especially moving moments. Among the
former, Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird demonstrated a hysterical
dry and deadpan comic delivery. Current police chief Tom Hoefel
offered a song to honor Bud Ovrom, to the tune of “Hey Jude.”
Hoefel’s funny and popular “Hey Bude” established that, when it’s his
turn to return after retirement, it won’t be as Burbank’s
Among many special moments during the night was Ovrom’s excitement
at having his mother at the function, and his introduction of and
thanks to several people he’s worked with over the years, especially
the city manager who first hired and taught him the business 30 years
Among the low points -- OK, THE low point -- was me. On a few
minutes notice, I said I’d fill time after a city official spoke,
giving her a chance to recover from emotions she expected to
experience during her speech. The program had Councilwoman Stacey
Murphy speaking, then presenting Ovrom with his retirement plaque, a
city tradition Ovrom created.
The clever plan had me coming up after the speech, supposedly to
present an award from the Leader, this followed by Murphy handing
over the plaque. But it truly didn’t occur to me until I hit the
stage that I had zippo to hand over, the first empty-handed speaker.
And once Murphy evicted me from the podium, her recovery went out the
window. By the time she gave Ovrom his plaque, she was overwhelmed
and couldn’t speak. Ovrom didn’t seem to mind, and was soon wiping
his own tears.
Councilman Dave Golonski finally dropped the other shoe Monday,
pulling his endorsement for council candidate Brian Malone. This came
more than a week after Mayor David Laurell took the same step.
Golonski told me he needed to review a tape of the March 1 candidate
forum hosted by the Burbank Chamber of Commerce a few more times.
There was broad consensus among political watchers that Malone’s
performance was disastrous, if enthusiastic. No one was surprised
later when he publicly expressed great confidence in the job he’d
done. But when some local players talked to him quietly in the hours
and days that followed, they walked away slack-jawed that Malone said
the same in private. As one source told me, “If he’d acknowledged
problems and blamed them on nervousness or confusion, I’d feel
better. But he doesn’t seem to know how far off he was, and that’s
TOTALLY DEVOTED ... TO WHO?
It’s not hard to find insiders who agree with Laurell’s current
assessment of Malone’s candidacy, but that doesn’t mean his change of
heart is winning applause.
“David should have seen from the start everything he [Malone]
says, he’s just learning,” one insider told me. “After this, the only
candidates who will ask for his endorsement will be the ones who
don’t really need it.” Another campaign veteran agreed and said, “For
candidates trying to get endorsements, already having [Laurell’s]
won’t bring anyone else on board, and it might scare some off.”
Golonski has never been known for being fickle. Heck, his image
might be enhanced by a dent in his reputation for stubbornly refusing
to change his mind. But this isn’t the first time Laurell has backed
out on someone he was “committed to 110%!” I hate admitting I had to
be reminded it was just a year ago that Laurell pledged his support
to Paul Krekorian when the council was looking to appoint a
replacement for a council member who had resigned. But confronted
with a 2-2 tie between colleagues supporting either Jef Vander Borght
and Krekorian, Laurell inexplicably dumped Krekorian and switched to
As mayor, if the tie had continued, the final choice would have
fallen to Laurell. In the days that followed, he continued to say
Krekorian was the best candidate. But he said his switch was due to a
heartfelt aversion to seeing a councilman chosen by just one person,
apparently unconcerned that’s precisely what happened when he broke
the tie and jumped to the man he said was the lesser of the two.
Vander Borght’s selection worked out well by most accounts, and
Krekorian is now pursuing a school board seat by the conventional
means. But he might have some inkling of how Malone feels. In fact,
perhaps we can better understand how Krekorian finalized his decision
to run for the school board.
After his council bid was deflated, Krekorian was urged to run for
the school seat, and his path seemed certain. Then, to everyone’s
surprise, Laurell announced he wouldn’t run for reelection this year.
With an incumbent stepping out, many urged Krekorian to switch to
taking a shot at the council. But he said he’d keep the promises made
to those who convinced him the schools need him.
Krekorian was applauded for sticking to his word, keeping his
priorities straight, and for resisting the temptation to shoot for a
higher office. But perhaps some tiny part of Krekorian choosing not
to take advantage of Laurell’s surprising decision came from being
nervous Laurell might change his mind at the last minute -- again.
* WILL ROGERS’ column appears in every edition of the Leader. He
can be reached 24 hours a day at 637-3200, voice mail ext. 906, or
by e-mail at email@example.com or at