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Hold on to FAA money

The headline appearing in the July 2 edition of the Leader, “Airport

faced with big FAA bill,” brought to mind the difficulties that arise

when local public entities attempt to solve vital and complex local

projects with the dollar support, but with little else in the way of


help, when dealing with the federal agencies.

It also brought to mind the dramatic inroads the federal bureaus

have made in controlling an ever-increasing number of state and local

issues. Surprisingly, this has been accomplished by the recycling of


a portion of our tax dollars back to us, in the form of federal


I doubt if the framers of the Constitution could have visualized a

time such as this when the states would transmit ever-burdensome tax

dollars to the federal government each year, and later beg for the

return of a portion of those tax dollars to fund much-needed local


This recycling of tax dollars presumes that distant federal


agencies possess superior judgment regarding which local projects are

to be funded, and which will be allowed to fail. As citizens, we

trust these federal agencies will make well thought-out decisions,

offering positive results. Unfortunately, there are times the

opposite is true.

The current and recently appointed FAA administrator has made the

decision -- the request for return of prior federal grants -- should

be accomplished in apparent disregard for the future of a vitally


needed air transportation facility, serving the citizens in an area

of rapid growth.

If the return of federal grant dollars results in the sale of the

required land parcel, the last chance to hammer out a mutually

acceptable terminal development plan may be forever foreclosed.

Following that happening, the administrator could take the

position -- since there will be no new terminals, and because the old

terminal is in strict violation of federal runway setback rules --

why not cancel the Burbank Airport’s right to operate as a commercial

air transportation facility? Thus ending all airline flight

activities at that location.

One can instantly see that this matter has rapidly escalated from

a local issue to one that effects both intrastate and interstate air

commerce. For that reason, the offices of the governor, as well as

our US Senators and Congressional Representatives, should be

contacted and made aware of the gravity of this situation.

Only such combined political power can halt the return of federal

grant dollars. In doing so, it would preserve the statue quo and

provide a golden opportunity for the resumption of more enlightened

negotiations regarding the airport, granting balanced considerations

to the citizen groups, airlines, the Airport Authority, the involved

cities, the FAA and other interested parties.

The timing is critical and the decisions will have a lasting

impact -- and the need for concerted action is now.

David M. Simmons