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From the Bullpen: Cleaning out the city attorney's office

January 30, 2011|Craig Sherwood

Back in December, I wrote about predictions for the coming year, and here we are only three weeks into January and already two have come true.

What's funny was one was tongue-in-cheek and the other serious. As a joke, I said the Burbank Leader and Glendale News-Press would combine and of course, Glendale would demand that their name came first. I guess it wasn't a joke.

On the serious side, I said Burbank City Atty. Dennis Barlow would leave his job. While it was really no secret around City Hall that he would be leaving, it was the announcement itself that has me a little baffled.

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I will admit, I do not know him personally besides saying 'Hi' a couple times in passing when I have been up at City Hall. It's more of a feeling, or impression, that you get of someone based on their actions over a period of time. You have not actually met the candidates for president or governor, but you get a feeling for someone and based your vote and opinions on it.

So Barlow has decided to step down in September. At a time when Burbank is facing a mountain of police-related litigation and other lawsuits, we are going to have to deal with a changeover at the top. This is the guy who has helped set the direction that the city finds itself going in, and now, when it's ready to hit the fan, he is bailing.

This is the guy who has gone after some local small businesses with the full power of his office instead of trying to work out something in a less threatening manner. He has also been ineffectual in advising the City Council on the Brown Act and other issues.

It is time for the City Council to accept his resignation and give him no later than a two-month window to leave, even if they need to pay him until September, and expedite a search for a new city attorney who can come in and get up to speed on these pending cases. Maybe he will continue the legal fight, or maybe he will suggest that the city settle the lawsuits after reviewing this huge mess, saving taxpayers money in the long run. But at this point, it needs to be the new city attorney's choice, not Barlow's.

It is also time to clean house in the city attorney's office, much in the way that interim Police Chief (when are we going to make him permanent?) Scott LaChasse was allowed to bring in his own command staff. The new city attorney must be allowed to do the same.

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