Read between lines with Vander Borght Reading...

Read between lines with Vander Borght

Reading Will Rogers’ speculation in the March 1 edition of the Leader about Burbank City Council candidate Jef Vander Borght’s

spectacular, first-place nonvictory in the election caused this

concerned citizen to wonder why. Somehow, Rogers’ explanation that


Vander Borght’s appointed stint of less than a year on the council

did not afford him a sufficient opportunity to win the hearts and

minds of a majority of his constituents for lack of exposure seemed

weak, at best. Of course, Rogers dismisses the outcome as not having


anything to do with what Vander Borght might have done or said during

his 11 years on the Planning Board prior to his brief council foray,

asserting, “how few residents routinely pay attention ... to the

Planning Board in particular.”

Well, perhaps Rogers is right. On the other hand, perhaps some of

the following facts exposing Vander Borght’s official words, actions

and silence on a number of important public issues over the years had

something to do with the election results.


* In the late 1980s, while serving on the Planning Board, Vander

Borght remained silent when the Airport Authority bypassed the board

as it sought to expand boarding capacity by nine gates in an area of

the airport now used by Southwest Airlines.

* Shortly before his recent ascension from the Planning Board to

the council, Vander Borght spearheaded a drive, with one other board

member, to limit and restrict the ability of other board members to

question and clarify matters presented to them at public hearings.


* One of the first things newly appointed council member Vander

Borght uttered upon taking the dais was that the airport, " ... was a

disaster waiting to happen,” due to the proximity of the then-current

terminal to the runway. Yet, just a short time later, the esteemed

architect, whose craft calls for critical awareness of building

designs to a significance of inches and degrees, became a strong

proponent and supporter of a 45,000-square-foot airport terminal

expansion with the newly constructed facility being, in places, 50

feet closer to the runway than the original “unsafe” terminal.

* Vander Borght ardently advocated the necessity for the

45,000-square-foot terminal expansion, even though one of the options

available under the federal government’s TSA guidelines was to add no

additional square footage whatsoever.

When contrasted to the facts that Vander Borght was endorsed by

four sitting council members, both the police and firefighter unions,

not to mention the vanguard of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, and

was running against a gaggle of political neophytes or unknowns, it

is amazing that Vander Borght could not be elected outright in the


Maybe, just maybe, the majority of the Burbank electorate has had

enough exposure to him to decide not to vote for him. Maybe the

electorate is suspicious of being told one thing and receiving

something else. Apart from his stalwart “fans,” maybe you really

can’t fool all the people all the time.



Candidate’s support raises questions

When a person runs for the City Council, we usually check to see

what their credentials are. When you have served in community

organizations, maybe served on a commission, that’s in your favor.

That generally means you’re not a youngster, because it takes time to

build credentials.

We’ve had our share of good and bad council members. To get an

endorsement from the city employee organizations usually helps your

campaign. In the first round, they appeared to support Jef Vander

Borght overwhelmingly. I can understand his standing because of being

a respected councilman and previous member of the city Planning


But how did Gary Bric qualify for their support? He owns a popular

eating establishment in Burbank that serves steaks and ribs. He has a

right to run for the council. But what qualifications got him the

endorsement of most of the city employee organizations? My preference

for the council election, along with Jef Vander Borght, is Todd

Campbell, who has a degree in government and history from Georgetown

University, a master’s in environmental management at Yale University

and a master’s in public policy from USC.

He has youth and energy. He has intelligence. He’s motivated. He

has an impressive list of endorsements. He’s a lifelong Burbank

resident. We have enough good ol’ boys who become councilpersons.

Let’s give somebody with youth and vigor, who doesn’t owe anybody

anything, a chance to make good.