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    More Cogs in the Airport Terminal Machinery

    (February 1, 2005) -- After inaccurately reporting on Jan. 31 that the City Council set Feb. 8 as the date to decide EIR-related Airport sizing (when the Council did no such thing; it's a management decreed artificial date), the Press-Telegram's Feb. 1 Editorial page amplifies a number of inaccuracies that we believe merit comment.

    The PT appears to be in full crisis mode over three Councilmembers who stuck a monkey-wrench in the Airport terminal expansion machine. These Councilmembers agendized a rational, positive approach to Airport facilities, supporting sizing that Airport management deems plausible, larger than what Airport management proposed barely 18 months ago.

    The PT unfairly smears their actions, even turning part of its weekday op-ed page over to a failed former Councilman so out of touch with his constituents that they tossed him out after his first term and refused to elect him when he tried again four years later. Predictably, he now appears to be regurgitating much of what Airport businesses say.

    But it's the PT that really swings the hatchet. We cite its words...and ours in response:
    [Headline] "Airport short-circuit: Council should stick to its schedule on proposals for improvements."The Council didn't set a schedule. City management decreed an artificial, manipulative one. LBReport reported weeks ago (and to our knowledge the PT hasn't) that two Councilmembers asked Manager Miller for details on "Alternative #2," bigger than management's Sept. 03 plan and deemed plausible by management. Mr. Miller declined to provide the information until Feb. 8. We surmise he plans a dog and pony spectacular on Feb. 8, hoping to drown out the more moderate alternative.
    "...evidently aimed at stampeding the council into prematurely scaling back the scope of airport remodeling..."The three Councilmembers aren't "scaling back" airport remodeling. They propose increasing it over what Airport management proposed just 18 months ago (September 2003). The Councilmembers' proposal isn't Airport management's currently preferred plan, but Airport management hasn't denied that it's plausible.
    "By delaying or sabotaging needed improvements, expansion opponents could provoke lawsuits and actually jeopardize the noise ordinance."The City Council is responsible for delaying needed improvements for over a year. It diverted a scheduled Dec. 2003 vote on the scope of Airport management's proposed EIR to a packed, stacked "Airport Advisory Commission," effectively delaying a Council EIR vote until after elections looming in airport-impacted districts 4 and 8. We don't recall the PT objecting to this.

    The City Council has done what it said it would never do: put LB's noise ordinance at risk. In an infamous May 2001 vote (motion by Kell, backed by city staff, 8-1 Carroll dissenting), the Council changed LB city law on allocating flight slots, letting carriers hold them longer before flying them. After the vote, the public learned that city officialdom had contacts with JetBlue beforehand...which waited until the vote, then took all the vacant large flight slots.

    We don't recall the PT objecting to this either...even when it became clear that the Council's action triggered an FAA proceeding that could have led to further FAA action or a lawsuit. It took gymnastic City Attorney work to settle the mess.

    "For many months, members of the city's Airport Advisory Commission have been holding hearings and studying proposals for remodeling."The "Airport Advisory Commission" only got involved because the Council evaded a vote on management's then EIR proposal in advance of 2004 Council elections. Management used the delay to increase its proposed sizes even further. The "Airport Advisory Commission" majority is hopelessly unrepresentative of LB's population. It's been packed (by the Mayor with past Council approval) with three current or former private pilots plus three other members with aviation related ties. Three other AAC members (one of whom is an LBHUSH2 member) voted against management's plan.
    "The environmental report, which will take a year to complete, should include all the recommendations of the Airport Advisory Commission."The "Airport Advisory Commission" majority rubberstamped sizes that Airport management wants. Reduced to its essence, the PT is telling the Council to rubberstamp what management wants.
    "The council then can make the final decision at the end, not the beginning, of the process."Not in the real world. By accepting the maximum proposed now, the Council would squander its leverage with carriers and the FAA. If the Council doesn't reach a consensus on a modest increase now, it will face even more pressure to accept management's maximum size later.

    Finally, we point out:

    • City management's current Airport terminal expansion proposal has NOT been discussed for over two years. It is significantly larger than what the Council sent to the "Airport Advisory Commission" in 2003. It is so much larger that City Hall has conceded that it will issue an entirely new Notice of Preparation for it to replace the EIR it previously officially announced (in September 2003).

    • A November 2004 "study session" allowed Councilmembers to ask management questions. Management didn't publicly answer all of them until a second "study session" in January 2005 at which other questions understandably arose. This less than 90 day period (with roughly a month consumed by the holiday period) is the entire public record to date of the City Council discussing management's currently preferred Airport Terminal Facilities Expansion Plan.

    • The three Councilmembers' Feb. 1, 2005 agenda item has given the rest of the Council their first serious opportunity to consider Airport issues on their merits...without being led by the nose in a city management sales job. commends Councilmembers O'Donnell, Reyes Uranga and Gabelich. It is imperative that on an issue on which the future of the city depends, LB's City Council should take the lead...and not be led by their manager, his management-hired consultants and predictable special interests.

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