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Community stands behind Murphy

Mark R. Madler

Councilwoman Stacey Murphy visited a quiet residential neighborhood

near Alameda and Olive avenues in January to meet with residents

opposed to a mixed-use development proposed to be built nearby.

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Now that same neighborhood is abuzz with talk of Murphy’s arrest

last week on charges of cocaine possession and child endangerment.

“They don’t know what to think,” resident Rolf Darbo said of his

neighbors. “This all came out of the blue.”

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The Burbank Media Center project was eventually approved by the

City Council in early February -- but not with Murphy’s support. She

cast the sole dissenting vote.

“She was one of the few who listened to the citizens on a regular

basis,” said Darbo, an opponent to the Media Center project. “She

seemed to be her own person and was not swayed by others.”

Murphy’s public career has now been potentially derailed by her

arrest July 13 which stemmed from a multi-agency investigation into

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the Vineland Boyz street gang. The 47-year-old mother of three is

free on $100,000 bond.

Also arrested was Scott Schaffer, Murphy’s boyfriend, who was

taken into federal custody on weapons and drug charges. He is

scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court on July 28.

Murphy would not comment Wednesday on the case, on the advice of

her attorney, Rickard Santwier, but released a statement Tuesday

indicating she would be absent from the weekly council meetings until

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her Aug. 25 court date. She did intend to serve her four-year term,

Murphy said.

Attempts to reach Santwier were unsuccessful.

Glendale City Councilman Bob Yousefian called his dealings with

Murphy positive over the years.

The pair were part of a delegation from Burbank and Glendale who

went to Washington, D.C., in 2003, to meet with Federal Aviation

Administration officials on issues relating to the Bob Hope Airport.

Murphy was a straight shooter, Yousefian said.

“She was very highly respected in her city,” he added. “I still

don’t believe it. I will wait to see what the evidence is to see if

she is a victim of circumstance or if there is something more to it.”

Glendale resident Carl Raggio would often come to loggerheads with

Murphy when he served as a commissioner for the

Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority because of their

differing opinions on how the airport should develop.

“I hate to see anything like this happen to anyone, especially

those in a position of leadership,” Raggio said. “Leadership comes

with a responsibility.”

Phil Berlin, a regular at the council meetings for years, called

Murphy’s absence significant to how the council would work.

“Stacey’s input is one of great value,” Berlin said. “She’s always

been outspoken in her opinion and at times could control the debate

to go one way or another.”

Reelected to her third term in February, Murphy was never shy

about speaking her mind on tough issues facing the city or in voting

the opposite of her council colleagues.

During the election, she identified increasing traffic and

revitalizing the city’s neighborhoods as priorities she wanted to

focus on. A proponent of mass transit, Murphy showed a personal

commitment to clean air by driving a hybrid vehicle.

She has also come out against the proposal to turn the old Buena

Vista branch library into a day care center, believing the building

should become a community center instead.

When the council looked at Dimples karaoke club’s potential move

to a residential neighborhood, Murphy insisted that free valet

parking be offered at the club to prevent potential parking problems.

Although Murphy did not always vote the way Berlin would have

preferred, his opinion of Murphy’s affect on the council was not

based on any one vote, he said.

Berlin represented residents opposed to the Dimples move and was

against a development agreement between the city and the

Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority that Murphy supported.

“Even if she is out a short time, her presence could be

persuasive,” Berlin said.

Murphy first joined the council in May 1997 to take the seat of

Susan Spanos, who was alleged to have had a drug problem of her own.

Spanos was reported missing by her husband in January 1997. He

reportedly told police at the time that she was addicted to cocaine.

Spanos reportedly checked into a substance abuse center for

treatment.

Although there were reports city officials reviewed whether to

remove Spanos from her council seat, she returned to the council and

served the remainder of her term.


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