In a legal opinion released this week, the state attorney general's office has ruled that Burbank City Council members may also serve as Burbank Airport commissioners without violating the law of incompatible offices.
The opinion issued by state Atty. Gen. Daniel E. Lungren was sought on behalf of the Burbank City Council to settle a public debate over whether Councilmen Robert Bowne and George Battey Jr. could serve on both bodies.
Opponents of airport expansion have said it is a conflict of interest for Bowne and Battey to serve in the dual roles at a time when many Burbank residents object to plans for a larger terminal.
Instead of resolving the dispute, however, some say the six-page opinion leaves the question of conflicting loyalties unanswered because of how the council's request was worded.
"The question was narrowly asked," said Ted McConkey, a candidate for Burbank City Council who favored seeking the state attorney general's opinion. "You can serve on both bodies and still have a conflict."
California Assemblyman James E. Rogan (R-Glendale), acting on behalf of the council, posed only one question to Lungren's office: May members of the Burbank City Council simultaneously serve as members of the Burbank Airport Authority?
Lungren's response was yes.
The law of incompatible offices, Lungren added, applies only to public offices.
Because the role of Burbank Airport commissioner was created by contract instead of government, commissioners would not be considered public servants under certain circumstances, Lungren wrote.