In an opinion delivered Tuesday to Burbank officials, the state Fair Political Practices Commission said that Margie Gee, the controversial Burbank Airport commissioner, may not participate in any decision that could affect her lawsuit against the authority.
But the opinion, written by Robert E. Leidigh, an FPPC attorney, fell short of laying out specific guidelines as to when Gee could or could not participate in the authority's meetings.
"We did not receive the definitive opinion that we had wanted," said Burbank City Atty. Douglas C. Holland. "All we got were some broad outlines on what Mrs. Gee can or cannot do. It poses interesting logistical problems. Mrs. Gee is facing some major difficulties."
In an interview Tuesday, Gee called the FPPC's letter a "non-opinion. It's yes and no, sometimes or maybe. It muddies the water."
Holland had asked the agency several months ago for guidelines concerning Gee's potential conflict of interest while serving on the airport panel. Authority attorneys have maintained that Gee, who is a plaintiff in a noise-related lawsuit against the airport, cannot discuss or vote on any issue relating to noise that could affect the litigation.
Burbank city officials had expressed concern that Gee's participation was severely limited because of the lawsuit. Burbank City Council members and Gee's fellow representatives from Burbank on the panel, Councilwoman Mary Lou Howard and Leland Ayers, had asked Gee to either resign from the panel or drop the lawsuit, but Gee has refused to do either.
Because of the lack of definitive guidelines by the FPPC, Holland said in a letter to the Burbank City Council that "obviously, the most simple solution to the problem is for Mrs. Gee to dismiss her lawsuit against the Airport Authority. Dismissal of the suit would substantially reduce any potential areas of conflict which would require Mrs. Gee's disqualification.
Cites 'Difficult Position'
"In the absence of such action, Mrs. Gee will find herself in a difficult position of cautiously reviewing every decision which relates to noise to determine whether or not such decision could have an impact on her pending litigation."
The opinion stated that Gee will not be able to participate in any decision that would reduce the area most seriously affected by the noise so that the area no longer includes the property that is the subject of her suit.
Also, Gee may not participate in decisions or discussions on rules for noise abatement, on beginning or expanding flight operations, or on relocating the terminal, if those decisions would affect her lawsuit or her property.
Council members declined to formally address the opinion after Holland asked them for time to analyze it and report to them later in the week.