Burbank Councilwoman Mary Lou Howard, who helped orchestrate the defeat of her two long-time opponents on the City Council by backing three other candidates, suggested Wednesday that City Atty. William B. Rudell, with whom she has also clashed, should resign before the new City Council votes to fire him.
"Mr. Rudell would be wise to turn in his resignation instead of us asking for it," said Howard, still basking in the success of her three allies, who scored a landslide victory over Mayor E. Daniel Remy and Councilman Larry Stamper Tuesday in a runoff election for three council seats. "He never should have been appointed and he is the most detrimental person in our city government."
The three new council members --Mary E. Kelsey, Michael Hastings and Al Dossin--also expressed unhappiness with Rudell and said they believed the city attorney would resign before the council had an opportunity to remove him from office. The removal of the city attorney would require a majority vote on the five-member council.
Manager's Status Unclear
Also uncertain in the wake of the election is the future of City Manager Andrew Lazzaretto, a supporter of Remy and Stamper who has been characterized by Howard as "an intimidating" manager. Howard said she had not yet discussed Lazzaretto's status with the new council members.
During the campaign for the three council seats, Remy had said that a City Council dominated by Howard would oust Rudell, Lazzaretto "and anyone who gets in its way" as it attempts to halt further redevelopment in Burbank. Remy placed last among six candidates in the final unofficial results, receiving only 29.1% of the vote.
When asked about statements that he should resign, Rudell said Howard had not voiced that opinion to him and that he had no intention of resigning.
"I just saw Mrs. Howard at lunch, and she didn't say anything to me about that," Rudell said. "No one has ever expressed dissatisfaction with me as city attorney. Unless I hear otherwise, I will continue to fulfill my duties and responsibilities as Burbank city attorney. I feel I have the ability to work with any elected official in my role as city attorney and airport commissioner."
Emotions Still High
Rudell said emotions from the election and campaign were still high, and that "the dust will have to settle" before the new council members would be able to determine their roles in the city's future.
He added that he had sent congratulatory letters to each of the new council members, inviting them to the city attorney's office to meet his staff and ask questions before they are sworn into office May 1. "I hope they each avail themselves of that invitation before making any commitments on what direction they want to go," Rudell said.
The heated campaign revolved around the pace of redevelopment in Burbank. Both Remy, who had served on the council for two terms, and Stamper, who had served one, defended recent redevelopment of Burbank, including a proposed regional shopping mall. Howard and her associates claimed that rapid redevelopment could endanger quiet residential neighborhoods.
Smear Campaign Alleged
Remy said Howard and her husband, Jack, a lawyer, had conducted a smear campaign against him and Stamper. He said she had endorsed Kelsey, Hastings and Dossin in an effort to shift the council to her views.
Stamper, who finished fifth among the six candidates for three council seats, echoed Remy's accusations, saying that the opposition had run "a slimy campaign" designed to discredit the incumbents." However, he said, the election of the Howard-backed candidates did not necessarily mean a change of direction for Burbank redevelopment.
"I hope all three of them realize that they got in the council on Mrs. Howard's apron strings, and I hope they cut those apron strings to day," Stamper said. "I think they will develop a sense of sensitivity and fairness in dealing with the officials, and I hope they will all act independently."
But Hastings immediately sided with Howard regarding her desire for Rudell to resign. "I think it would be in his best interest if he did resign," Hastings said. "I do not feel he is that sharp of a city attorney, his treatment of the public has been totally unacceptable and he has abused his office."
Howard said she has never made secret her opposition to Rudell. "Since he has been city attorney, there have been more consultants for the city attorney's office than ever before," she said. "He is a corporate attorney, and has no knowledge of municipal or redevelopment law."
Rudell was appointed city attorney by the council almost three years ago, and has been working with the Burbank government for more than 15 years, he said. A former corporate attorney with a Los Angeles law firm, Rudell has also served as a City Council member and as one of the commissioners of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.
Attacked by Homeowers