Union spends big to aid candidate

A union that represents 138 city employees has spent roughly $42,000 to elect City Council hopeful Bob Frutos, dwarfing the $13,982 in receipts filed by his own campaign, records show.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 — which represents technicians, electricians, mechanics and operators in Burbank — spent $42,110 on postage, voter data, consulting and mailers in support of Frutos and to oppose his competition, Emily Gabel-Luddy, for the April 12 election, according to disclosure forms filed with the city clerk’s office. The deadline for filing was Friday.

Local 18 Unit chairman Bruce Redmann, who lives in Burbank, said in a statement that the union was backing Frutos because “he supports a responsible spending plan for Burbank that protects public safety and delivers basic city services.”

But the cost of delivering city services is soaring, fueled by the rising cost of employee retirements benefits that were negotiated with the unions.

In the coming months, the City Council will have to wade through millions in spending cuts to bridge a projected $8.3-million budget gap.

The amount that Burbank pays into the California Public Employees’ Retirement System next fiscal year will increase by $10.7 million, bringing the total paid into the system next year to $33.5 million, according to city records.

The projected budget gap for next fiscal year is $8.3 million.

IBEW represents the only group of city employees who contribute to their pension costs. Officials say that more employees should be paying into the system, reducing Burbank’s obligation.

Gabel-Luddy said she was disappointed to see the fliers hit mailboxes — four in support of Frutos and two explicitly denouncing her as a pawn of Los Angeles special business interests.

Gabel-Luddy is a former high-ranking planning official in Los Angeles, where the IBEW is based.

“I am very disappointed to see IBEW bring Los Angeles-style dirty politics into Burbank,” she said. “I think when the dust settles, the voters will easily see through this ploy and I will continue to focus on the issues that concern Burbank.”

Gabel-Luddy defended her campaign contributions as coming from friends and associates from her time as a Los Angeles city employee. She also noted that many contributions were also from Burbank residents.

No independent expenditures were made on behalf of her campaign, according to filings submitted to the city clerk’s office.

For his part, Frutos said he was surprised by the IBEW expenditures and that he was not consulted about the content of the fliers.

“I’m just honored to have their endorsement and their support,” Frutos said.

The local chapter of the IBEW also spent $18,861 on Councilman Gary Bric’s primary reelection campaign — more than five times what he spent. He won reelection outright with more than 50% of the vote.

“We supported Gary Bric for his record of fiscal leadership, commitment to job creation, and demonstrated ability to bring people together,” Redmann said.

FYI

The City Clerk’s office must receive all ballots by 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Voters may hand-deliver their ballots on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and Tuesday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the following locations:

City Hall, 275 East Olive Ave. (Also open Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Buena Vista Branch Library, 300 North Buena Vista St.

Joslyn Center, 1301 West Olive Ave.

McCambridge Recreation Center, 1515 North Glenoaks Blvd.

Tuttle Center, 1731 North Ontario St.
 
 

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