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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
* 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.