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Burbank's Airport Vote Risks Passenger Safety

January 01, 2002

Re "The 'Air Safety Is No. 2' City," editorial, Dec. 26: The Burbank City Council did not "deny a request by Southwest Airlines to move a wall in the old terminal to make room for increased, federally required baggage searches." By a 3-2 vote, the City Council simply refused to take up the request as an "urgency item" even though federal law requires that all checked luggage be inspected by Jan. 18, 2002. Even though the action was a postponement, not a denial, the council richly deserves criticism for potentially imperiling airline security and passenger safety. Far from failing to stand up to "real or imagined irate voters," the three council members voting down the request for immediate action were blatantly attempting to provoke a lawsuit by Southwest Airlines.

I am a longtime critic of Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport expansion and one of those who helped successfully pass Measure A, which placed conditions on airport growth. I spoke in favor of the Southwest plans. It was my opinion (and that of Restore Our Airport Rights supporters) that reconfiguring additional space for security reasons did not fall within the provisions of the measure. Southwest Airlines and the airport were responding to a federal mandate to inspect all checked luggage. They were not expanding the terminal to add additional flights or passengers.

Measure A was written and scheduled for the ballot long before the events of Sept. 11. Even so, supporters believe as fervently in the measure today as we did then. The issue of airport growth is separate from airline terrorism concerns. Unrestricted growth without protections against noise, pollution and other negative impacts is being debated all over the U.S. Three members of the council would have you believe they are merely appeasing residents on the issue of growth by thwarting federal mandates on luggage checking. Their actions speak otherwise. If you read their Request for Declaratory Judgment you will understand that they are demanding the courts declare Measure A to be entirely unenforceable.

Ted McConkey

Burbank

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