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On The Contrary:

Paying for bad choices

May 12, 2010|By Richard Tafilaw

When does loyalty cross over the line and become complicity? Well, we may soon have to address that very question with the recent filing of a wrongful-death claim against our city by the widow and family of Burbank Police Officer Neil Thomas Gunn Sr.

Yes, the big ugly stinking mess down at City Hall just got bigger, uglier, stinkier and messier!

Outgoing Mayor Gary Bric recently mentioned an alarming escalation of projected attorney fees to answer the never-ending lawsuits coming our way. Bric proclaimed that “we’re going to be throwing in another $2 million to $4 million.” Isn’t that interesting? So, with the $1.2 million we stashed away last fall now completely gone, they’re upping the ante three-fold. Do you notice a disturbing trend here?

The only time in my life I ever seriously had to deal with the American judicial system was a divorce and custody battle some 18 years ago. Sadly, I came away from the whole process with the firm belief that lawyers don’t really care who wins or loses, because the real money is in dragging it out as long as possible.


The legal defense team we have hired to defend the city has no actual incentive to wrap things up quickly — the longer it plays out, the more cash they’re going to rake in. Hey, when you’re billing hundreds of dollars an hour for your services, you certainly don’t want to rush anything along, now, do you?

A rather frightening outcome we may eventually have to face up to in regards to the various police lawsuits is: Will we ever actually be told the truth? All too often in today’s court cases we see protracted trials quietly ending with a backroom, closed-door “settlement” whereby the details are not released to the public. Excuses are made, unspecified amounts of money change hands and all parties agree to keep their mouths shut.

A sanitized incomprehensible statement is read to the media by an attractive spokesperson and by then, having long forgotten what the fight was all about anyway, we go back to watching “American Idol.” The money and agreement silences the plaintiffs, the wrong-doers retire with full pensions or are assigned to a different department and you-know-who makes a small fortune along the way. Oh, and guess who pays the bill?

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