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Union spends big to aid candidate

Gabel-Luddy calls support of Frutos "Los Angeles-style dirty politics."

April 08, 2011|By Gretchen Meier,

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.

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