At a time when the scandals in Bell and other cities have shaken the public’s confidence and the cost of government salaries, benefits and pensions are breaking the bank, Burbank is playing a losing hand — unless, of course, it has good reason to hide how much taxpayer money was paid out and to whom in the form of bonuses.
If they are doing such great jobs — and not beneficiaries of a system of favoritism and nepotism, as many have suspected for a long time — they should be wearing badges of honor so citizens could express their heartfelt gratitude and co-workers could be inspired to greater achievement.
The issue is simple: the Burbank Leader, invoking the California Public Records Act and a landmark 2007 California Supreme Court ruling, asked to see per-employee records of the $1 million in bonus payments in the belief they might shed light one way or another on the question of favoritism and nepotism in City Hall.
The city refused, saying they have posted every employee’s total pay, the amount set aside for merit pay, the number of employees getting the bonuses and the ground rules for determining who gets the bonus money.
But who got the bonuses and how much is a matter of secrecy, and disclosure would “create embarrassment, morale disruptions and personal dissention in the workplace,” the city argued in court documents in response to the newspaper filing a lawsuit for the information.