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FAA officials don’t need to hear ROAR

AS IF YOU ASKED

On Wednesday, I wrote about supporters of a political action

committee demanding Burbank’s council let them name representatives

to sit in on an upcoming airport-related summit meeting in

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Washington, D.C. In written and spoken demands, one founder of ROAR

(Restore Our Airport Rights) and other supporters declared expenses

for the overseers should be “paid for by the community.”

But at council meetings in Burbank and Glendale this week, after

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Wednesday’s column was written, the ROARers with wanderlust clarified

they will pay for their travel, not taxpayers.

“I see we used the words ‘the community’ over and over,” said

Howard Rothenbach, a founder of ROAR. “That’s misleading, and we

should have made it clearer starting back in December.

“What we’re trying to say is that we’ll pay our way, but we’ll be

glad to take contributions from generous supporters in the

community,” he added.

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Some other longtime ROAR supporters lobbying the council

unequivocally declare the city should pay the expense, one even doing

so at the same Burbank meeting Rothenbach addressed. I asked

Rothenbach if he’d publicly disagree with them. “I just haven’t heard

anyone say that,” he answered -- sort of.

Whether ROARers pay their way doesn’t alter my objections to their

premise that only they can be trusted to relay what happens at a

meeting among officials of the three cities operating the local

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airport, and executives of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Contrary to the rationale offered by some ROARers, the situation is

NOT similar to the council appointing committees. ROAR wants a

political action committee appointed to make appointments. Moreover,

no City Hall task force or city board has been established to monitor

elected officials performing their duties, this on the assertion the

officials don’t represent the citizens of Burbank.

ROARers continue to pretend as though voters approving ROAR’s

ballot measure calling for limits on the airport was the equivalent

of electing ROARers to office. That not only isn’t the case, the

reverse is true. Rothenbach and ROAR’s other founder were rejected by

voters, and no other ROARer has even tried.

Another argument made in recent days is a comparison between

ROAR’s demands and my own trip to Washington, D.C., for a previous

summit, at which time I interviewed Jane Garvey, then administrator

of the FAA. But I wasn’t appointed to make that trip, and in fact

kept my plans secret from officials, who I was sure would spill my

enterprising idea to other journalists. I spent months going through

FAA channels, alternately nagging and cajoling, charming and shoving,

efforts typical when trying to get someone who doesn’t do interviews

to do an exclusive interview.

I asked Rothenbach if he’d follow my lead, going to Washington

regardless of whether the council invited him. “To sit on the steps

of the FAA while the meeting is going on inside? I don’t see much

point in that,” Rothenbach said. Rather than try to meet with FAA

officials himself, Rothenbach said ROAR’s “Plan B” is hoping councils

in Pasadena or Glendale invite ROARers in “on behalf of Burbank

citizens.”

Again, Burbank voters have specifically declined to have ROARers

represent them, so Rothenbach wants officials to appoint them. That’s

ironic, inasmuch as Rothenbach and his cohorts accuse the council of

ignoring the wishes of voters.

PROGRAMMING ALERT

If you subscribe to local cable TV service, you can now meet the

candidates for City Council and school board in your own living room,

without the discomfort of trying to find a polite way to ask them to

leave.

City Hall’s cablecasting arm, BTV6, is replaying in a single block

the three-minute state- ments that 23 of the 24 candi- dates have

recorded. School board candidate William Birtell was unavailable

during the three-day window for the taping.

The statements are being replayed often on Charter Communications

cable Channel 6 until primary election day, Feb 25. Copies of the

tape are also available for checkout at Burbank’s Central Library.

LIFE IN MARGARITAVILLE

“I think Margarita Campos is one of Burbank’s best city clerks

ever, and I don’t know why you keep saying she’s not,” one caller

said. That was the take several readers had on my recent objections

to exempting Campos from proposed rules that would keep her from

jumping at will from her current seat to a city job.

Especially on the heels of my objections in 2001 to the process that saw Campos named to the clerk’s office when a predecessor

resigned, folks wrongly conclude I have gripes about Campos’ work.

Because this isn’t an election year for the seat, I thought it would

be fair to clear up the misconception.

My dealings with Campos generally revolve around re- search. I can

say she has been able to dig up more city inform- ation faster and

more accurately than anyone before her. That’s not a complaint about

her predecessors, but a testimony to how well she does her job.

Campos gets back to me with accurate information in far less time

than it takes most officials in City Hall to even acknowledge they’ve

heard a question.

I’m a born complainer who has no problem jumping to the one flaw

in an otherwise flawless record. And I still can’t think of a whine

about Campos’ service.

My objections, contorted into criticisms of Campos, are tied to

her long service with the city. She was a City Hall employee for 27

years before the clerk’s seat became vacant in 2001, and her

longevity and connections effectively won her the job long before the

council belatedly went through the motions of taking applications and

interviewing candidates for an office typically filled by voters. I

believe the same history was responsible for recent behind-the-scenes

efforts to spare Campos from new rules barring officials from moving

into a city job within one year of leaving office.

Had the current city clerk been virtually anyone else, the tough

rules would have applied to everyone. Campos got special

consideration, and I don’t think that’s right. But when a council

gives in on almost anything to anyone, I rarely blame beneficiaries

for asking. I blame councils for saying “yes.”

I reserve the right to be impressed by challengers if anyone dares

face Campos when her term expires in 2005, and I suppose it’s

possible she could make a huge mistake tomorrow. But I have no

problem declaring I’ve seen nothing short of excellent service from

Campos as city clerk. I hope that convinces her many fans to stop

haranguing me.

* WILL ROGERS’ column appears in every edition of the Leader. He

can be reached 24 hours a day at 637-3200, voice mail ext. 906, or by

e-mail at will.rogers@latimes. com or willrogersemail@earthlink. net.


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