So what else is new, eh?
In his most recent no mea culpa, the vice mayor of Burbank made a ridiculously misleading historical claim about the old ROAR initiative “Measure A.” We’ve italicized it here:
At the time, all but one lawyer I know of (a candidate for council at the time), one expert after another told us Measure A was doomed. Time and again it tried to impose through a ballot measure standards and rules the city has no jurisdiction over. As had been expected, Measure A passed easily with one of the highest turn-outs in recent history, and as predicted by every credible observer, it was all rendered moot by the courts. The city even paid the legal expenses of a citizen who wanted to try defending Measure A in appeals. Measure A was nonetheless (and rightfully) laughed out of the courts.
So nice of them to have done so, right? A helluva group of people that was.
Now here’s what really happened — we’ll try to make a long and complicated history a bit clearer:
1. The night Measure A won the vote in 2000, the Burbank City Council met in closed session and voted 3-2 to immediately file a lawsuit in court to have it vacated. That’s right– the City of Burbank voted to go to court to get a citizens initiative tossed out, not some other aggrieved party like the Airport Commission. And right after it had won!
2. ROAR of course vociferously objected to this action, and immediately demanded that their legal fees be paid as prospective defendants. They didn’t have the money for such a defense –because it’s supposed to be the city’s job to defend a voter initiative in court!
3. When the city eventually filed the lawsuit, it turned out that they didn’t sue the ROAR sponsors of Measure A. Instead, they sued the Airport Authority(!)
4. ROAR again objected to this action, rightfully fearing that the Authority was a bogus defendant who wouldn’t put up any kind of fight to defend an obviously hostile Measure A.
5. The city council then voted to offer to pay for ROAR to be an “intervenor” in the case. An intervenor can be any interested party who wants to get legally involved in a matter of public import. It was their idea to do this, not ROAR’s.
6. The problem with such an offer though is that if there is an intervenor around, and the judge in charge happens to toss the Authority (say) from the case because they’re not seen as a legitimate defendant, the lawsuit will still go on.
7. This indeed was ROAR’s fear– that the city’s financial offer to pay their legal fees was just a trick to keep their lawsuit on course if the Airport was removed from the case. Which seemed likely at the time. The Airport was legally fighting to do so in fact.
8. So ROAR of course told Burbank to go to hell. Remember, they were against this city’s lawsuit to begin with. They (legitimately) thought it was appalling that our city council members would basically sue the Burbank voters over the election result instead of allowing someone else do it (such as the Authority or the airlines) who would have been potentially impacted by Measure A. ROAR wanted to have nothing to do with this lawsuit.
So after several months the City of Burbank’s case goes in front of a judge. Here’s what happened next:
1. The judge reviews the case and asks “Where’s the initiative’s sponsor?” He immediately demands that ROAR enter the case as an intervenor. He also allows the Authority to remain as defendant.
2. ROAR — stuck now in a city initiated lawsuit that they never believed in — goes back to the council and demands intervenor money. The council refuses to give them any.
3. Rogers of course writes a typical series of pieces in the Leader mocking the ROAR group’s supposed inconsistency, ineptitude, and sheer nuttiness in first refusing city money and then later demanding it — and, naturally, he left out the completely new set of legal circumstances. The judge had now demanded they be there!
4. After a week of discussion, the council reverses course and agrees to fund ROAR’s legal fees. The vote was 3-2, with Golonski and Laurell voting “no.”
5. The trial court eventually throws Measure A out — even though A never “required” the Burbank City Council to do anything illegal. It just said that if the council couldn’t get the specific deal provisions as listed then they couldn’t approve a new airport terminal. Big difference.
6. An appeal being appropriate — as it usually is with every city issue that garners an 80 percent approval vote — resident Mike Nolan reluctantly agreed to take it on.
What Rogers leaves out is crucial. The only reason there was a lawsuit to begin with (and later appeal) is because the city itself levied it against the Measure’s outcome, and essentially too the Burbank voters. ROAR didn’t want to have anything to do with it! Rogers also ignored the question of why the city council now wanted to refuse intervenor money that they had once been eager to push on the Measure A sponsors.
ROAR believed – correctly so – that it was the responsibility of an airport-related party to try to get Measure A tossed if desired, and not the city. It was the city’s job to defend Measure A, not Mike Nolan’s.
So no one in the city “even” did anything nice or charitable for Measure A in its defense. Or morally or legally optional. They created the problem.