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    Carroll vs. Reeves, The Saga Continues:

  • Councilman Wants City Mgr. To Report On Airport Curfew Violations After City Prosecutor Entered Into Consent Decree Dropping JetBlue Prosecution For Enhanced Fines For Future Late Night Flights

    (Oct. 14, 2003) -- 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll has agendized an item for the Oct. 14 City Council meeting asking the City Manager to report on Airport curfew violations following City Prosecutor Tom Reeves' entry into a consent decree with JetBlue Airways dropping misdemeanor prosecution of the carrier in exchange for enhanced fines for future late night flight violations.

    In December 2002, City Prosecutor Reeves filed misdemeanor criminal charges against JetBlue and American Airlines alleging repeated late night (11 p.m.-7 a.m) violations of LB's Airport noise ordinance. In May 2003, Reeves' office entered into consent decree with JetBlue (and later American) ending the prosecutions with pleas of nolo contendere to several alleged noise violation counts with sentencing withheld; after performance of the Consent Decree is completed, the criminal complaint will be dismissed and the carriers can withdraw their nolo contendere pleas. In exchange, the City Prosecutor received JetBlue's agreement to pay a lump sum of $90,000 and fines of $3,000 to $6,000 for each future late night flight -- significantly more than fines provided in the noise ordinance itself -- all payable to the LB Public Library Foundation. (Similar terms apply to American.)

    After receiving court approval for the agreement, City Prosecutor Reeves presented the arrangement to the City Council, noting it was hoped the agreement would produce compliance with LB's Airport Noise Ordinance and deter future late night flights. Councilman Carroll, who faces reelection in April 2004 in a district that includes Airport-impacted Los Altos, appeared visibly rankled by the agreement and indicated publicly that Reeves had cut the deal without coordinating it with him. For his part, Reeves noted that as an independently elected City Prosecutor, he doesn't answer to Carroll.

    A few months later during budget discussions, Councilman Carroll targeted the City Prosecutor's office for not reducing its proposed spending as other departments had.

    And Councilman Carroll's Oct. 14 agenda item gives the City Prosecutor another thumb in the eye: it seeks a report from the City Manager (not Prosecutor Reeves) on LB Airport curfew violations and enforcement. (However the request is within the Council's purview: the City Manager answers to the Council.) We post the text of Councilman Carroll's agendizing memo below:

    Date: October 14, 2003
    To: Mayor and Councilmembers
    From: Councilmember Dennis Carroll
    Subject: AGENDA ITEM: Report From City Manager On Long Beach Airport Curfew Violations and Enforcement

    Residents living under the airport flight path continue to suffer from violations of our noise ordinance curfew. The burden of living under 41 flights is substantially and unjustifiably increased by violations of a valid ordinance designed to protect the peace and tranquility of residents. A clear understanding of the curfew regulations by the airlines and a vigorous program of enforcement are essential to preserving the legally protected interests of flight path residents and their families.

    I request a report to the City Council include:

    1. All curfew violations identified since the date of the agreement between the City Prosecutorís office and JetBlue.

    2. The enforcement taken for each violation.

    3. Recommendations for stricter legal enforcement of the curfew ordinance.

    4. Recommendations for any additional means through which airline compliance may be obtained.

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