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Burbank council meeting lasts 10 hours

Some members blame "dark" Tuesdays for longer than normal agenda.

November 08, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

A marathon City Council meeting that ran until nearly 4 a.m. Wednesday and pushed the public-comment period past midnight has left some elected officials questioning the council’s current twice-monthly meeting schedule in favor of one where there are more meetings each month.

A number of high-profile issues were packed onto Tuesday’s agenda, such as a joint discussion with the Police Commission on an independent report examining the police department’s internal policies, along with discussions about Los Angeles County’s plastic bag ban and bikes lanes on Verdugo Avenue.

Of the 29 people who turned in cards to speak during the public-comment period, 14 left before they were summoned to the podium after midnight.

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Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy was left greeting the first public speaker with, “Good morning.”

For some council members, the lengthiness of the meeting was a culmination of a number of “dark” Tuesdays in recent months — there have been 11 since the new council was sworn in 27 weeks ago — which they felt wasn’t fair to the public.

“It degrades the quality of the public process when people are not able to continue to stay and give input to council, and council is clearly fatigued,” said Councilman David Gordon.

Historically, the council has had roughly one meeting a month go dark, according to a city report.

In June, the council voted 3-2 — with Gordon and Councilman Bob Frutos dissenting — to accept a meeting schedule set by then City Manager Ken Pulskamp that included only about two meetings a month.

Over the summer, the council didn’t meet for four consecutive weeks.

It also has joint meetings the next two weeks with the airport authority and school officials, respectively, that force the regular council meetings to go dark. Thhe council isn’t scheduled to meet Thanksgiving week.

In January, Gabel-Luddy plans to ask the council to consider meeting more frequently and perhaps hosting joint meetings with the city’s boards and commissions on nights other than Tuesdays, so the council can still have a regular meeting, she said.

“We all want to be absolutely sharp as possible; we all want to be actively participating,” Gabel-Luddy said.

Frutos, who slept just an hour Wednesday morning before reporting to work at 7 a.m., said city officials should be able to identify — and split up — hot-ticket items that are bound to draw multiple speakers and generate long debates.

“Whatever we cannot resolve by midnight should be calendared for the next meeting,” Frutos said.

But Councilman Gary Bric called the 10-hour meeting an “isolated incident.”

“It doesn’t happen very often — rarely do we go past [midnight],” Bric said.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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