(October 18, 2003) -- In an extemporaneous statement during the Oct. 14 City Council meeting, City Attorney Robert Shannon responded to public testimony critical of late night post-curfew flights (including by JetBlue) by indicating that civil remedies exist, although he cautioned they are premature at the moment.
City Attorney Shannon indicated that he and a City Hall delegation will travel to NYC in the coming week to discuss the matter with JetBlue CEO David Neeleman. LBReport.com has independently confirmed that in addition to City Attorney Shannon, the delegation will include City Manager Jerry Miller, Airport Manager Chris Kunze and Deputy City Attorney Mike Mais and the meeting is scheduled for Oct. 24.
We provide a transcript below (unofficial, prepared by us) of City Attorney Shannon's Council comments with introductory material for context. Bracketed material added by us for clarity.
[LB Bixby Knolls area homeowner]...Whatever noise weightings we have in our [airport noise] budget, whatever penalty structure we have in place, it's not affecting the situation...I don't know how a city government allows its prosecutor to negotiate away its power to manage the airlines, but in effect as I understand it, that's exactly what happened. And for the City Council to say now they're going to turn to the 'court of public opinion' [expression was used by Councilman Carroll] to solve this problem I think is disingenuous.
Because it is the job of the City Council to manage the quality of life of its community, and quite frankly, you're not doing it. Because this chart shows the penalty that my children are living with as they try to go to sleep at night. You're not taking care of your community, and if you don't do so, the community is going to leave.
Mayor Beverly O'Neill: Thank you very much for this. This was very, very well researched and thought through and I appreciate that very much.
City Attorney Shannon: Excuse me Madam Mayor, could I make a brief comment with regard to what this gentleman just said. And by the way this is a very interesting chart.
I think we've been proceeding from the underlying assumption all night that the only remedy against the airlines that do violate the noise ordinance is a criminal remedy. Yes, it is true that for three years with regard to American Airlines and JetBlue, our criminal options are limited, they're basically non-existent because of the Consent Decree.
But there is another side to the law and that's the civil side. Now I'm not going to get into the legal remedies that we have from the civil and the administrative side because I think that would be a little bit premature, but I will just tell you that as City Attorney we do have civil legal remedies.
Now before we resort to those civil legal remedies, we want to do everything we can to get voluntary compliance from, first of all, JetBlue. And in that regard, I want to advise you that the City Manager, and of course the City Council and the City Attorney, share your concerns about the late night flights.
And to that end, we are meeting with Mr. Neeleman [JetBlue CEO] in New York at the end of next week, and we hope to achieve some sort of an understanding that continued late flights are not acceptable to the public, and they're not acceptable to the city, and I think that responds to your issue.