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Community Commentary:

Councilman isn’t for the people

May 17, 2008|By Robert Phipps

In the May 10 Top Story (“Water official rips Gordon”), Burbank’s representative to the Southern California Metropolitan Water District, Glenn Brown, accused Councilman Dave Gordon of unilaterally and unnecessarily summoning him to report at monthly council meetings so that Gordon can “have more time before the [television] cameras” to prepare for the 2009 council election.

Gordon denied Brown’s claims.

I wasn’t at that May 6 council meeting, but from prior experience, I’d have to say the credibility rests with Brown.

I have watched and listened to Gordon in numerous council meetings. He seems to operate on personal priorities without concern for propriety. For example, when he campaigned for Philip and Carolyn Berlin from the dais during the last council election, he was on public salary in an official capacity at a publicly funded council meeting speaking to a captive audience. And he used that platform to tell us all how to vote.

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Time after time I have watched him embarrass and belittle staff members by calling them to the podium to absorb his lectures or answer his accusatory questions. He acts like a prosecutor cross-examining a criminal defense witness. Every question and comment seems to convey implicit wrongdoing and blame. His tone and words say he is not there to learn, but to accuse.

When he questions staff members, he goes on interminably about senseless details.

Perhaps he thinks “the people” will believe that he cares only about them, that he digs deeply into matters only to get to their core. But the reasons other council members don’t ask such micromanaging questions is that they already know the answers or understand the operation of the city’s administration and trust the staff members.

The minutiae of Gordon’s questions imply that staff members don’t know what they are doing. He puts others down to lift himself.

I have watched and listened to countless council votes go 4-1 to pass some measure or another, and Gordon was always alone in the dissent. I’m not saying that a unanimous vote is necessary or even good, but I am saying the consistency shows something about the man.

If there were a number of 3-2 votes mixed in, the perception would feel right; but time and again, the vote is 4-1, with Gordon alone, and then he warns the other four that they will be responsible when things go wrong. He seems to believe that he alone has wisdom on the dais.

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