Crashes, council also hit headlines

Frommer bows out

of speaker race

Citing the need to unite the Democratic caucus in the Legislature,

Dario Frommer (D-Burbank) dropped his bid to become speaker of the


Assembly. Frommer, a leader in the state body, was interested in the

position for several months, but agreed to bow out to do what was

best for the party in what had been a tumultuous session, he said. He

and Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), who were vying for the spot,


stepped aside to allow Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) to take the role.

Plane crash claims

three Burbank Realtors

Three longtime Burbank Realtors were among five people killed in a

late October plane crash in the desert 60 miles east of Needles. San

Bernardino County Coroner’s officials eventually identified the three

locals as Bob Brown, the owner and pilot of the Cessna 421 Golden

Eagle plane, Bonnie Day and Bart Caldarell. Brown and Caldarell were


longtime members of the Burbank Assn. of Realtors, and Day was a

former member.

Disabled veterans chapter sued by national group

A judge in November slapped the Burbank chapter of Disabled

American Veterans with a temporary injunction, handing over control

of the local group to the national organization, which sued over

alleged financial mismanagement. The Nov. 20 ruling and a pending

deal with the national organization to drop its lawsuit resulted in


the seizure of the 70-year-old club’s assets.

Council revokes Gitana’s conditional-use permit

The City Council revoked the conditional-use permit of Gitana

restaurant and nightclub in September on the recommendation of city

staff and Police Department officials, who said the establishment had

become an increasing nuisance and a threat to public safety.

Between January and April, police responded to the Magnolia

Boulevard establishment an average of 20 times per month, prompting

the department to bill the owners for excessive visits.

Truck, Metrolink train collide; crossing lights to blame

Confusion at a railroad crossing near North Buena Vista Street and

San Fernando Boulevard on Jan. 6 resulted in the deaths of two people

and the derailment of a Metrolink train, officials said.

Jacek Wysocki, 63, reportedly drove his truck around the crossing

arms and into the path of the oncoming train. The collision killed

Wysocki and injured dozens of others. A passenger on the train died

two weeks later.

The crash could have been avoided if the red arrow -- signaling

that drivers were allowed to turn left into the intersection if it

was safe -- was not flashing, according to a report released in

December by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Election produces new faces on City Council

Months of knocking on doors paid off for architect Jef Vander

Borght and environmental policy director Todd Campbell, who won seats

on the Burbank City Council in the April 8 election. Vander Borght

made his first run for a council seat after serving out the term of

former mayor Bob Kramer, who resigned in March 2002.

In May, Campbell joined Vander Borght, Dave Golonski, Stacey

Murphy and Marsha Ramos on the dais.

Union agrees to replace health coverage for pay raises

In August, the board of education voted unanimously to discontinue

California Public Employees Retirement System health-care coverage

for teachers in favor of less expensive coverage, a move expected to

save the district $1.5 million annually. Members of the Burbank

Teachers Assn., the union representing more than 800 teachers, nurses

and counselors, voted to accept alternate health coverage in return

for a 2% raise effective Jan. 1.

BTAC director fired by board of directors

Popular Burbank Temporary Aid Center Executive Director Patricia

Smola was fired in June by the center’s board of directors, stunning

friends and colleagues, including those who donated time and money to

the organization on West Burbank Boulevard.

The Rev. Larry Stamper of First United Methodist Church questioned

whether the nonprofit center was an organization his congregation

would continue to support, and some volunteers called it quits.