Monday, August 13, 2001
City Council Unanimously Approves Hahn Nominees for Airport Commission
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles City Council Friday unanimously approved Mayor James Hahn’s five airport commission appointees, two former commission members and three newcomers who have pledged to support the mayor’s regional approach to air traffic growth.
“This is a new day in City Hall and a new day at the airport,” Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, chair of the Commerce, Energy & Natural Resources Committee, said.
Accepting a recommendation from City Council panel who conducted a public hearing for the appointees Thursday, the City Council approved former Airport Commission presidents Ted Stein and Leland Wong.
Also confirmed were Eileen Levine of Van Nuys, Armando Vergara of Los Angeles and Mahala Walter of Westchester.
Veterans Wong and Stein faced a barrage of questions from Councilman Nate Holden who asked how the former panel members would deal with carrying out Hahn’s policy when they had both supported expansion of Los Angeles International Airport under a former mayor.
“I firmly believe this commission is here to implement the policy of the mayor,” Stein said. “He has a very clear policy on the regional airport issue. It’s in his interest we work on it.”
Holden said he didn’t hold any grudges with the commissioners about expansion who were just acting on the mayor’s behalf, saying “you carried out the mandate of the mayor so you were just carrying out the mayor’s message.”
But Holden cautioned the new commissioners to continue to carry out the new mayor’s message and not to stray too far from his vision for the airport.
“We support the mayor,” Holden said. “Hopefully you won’t go off and be independent.”
The confirmation of the appointments came as council members advised the new commissioners not to forget the issues Van Nuys Airport faces while the panel tackles LAX issues, which they said have tended to overshadow other airport issues in the past. The commission also oversees the Ontario and Palmdale airports.
“There is something very large on your plates in LAX,” Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski said. “But don’t let Van Nuys be forgotten. That needs attention too.”
Zine echoed Miscikowski’s warnings, saying how important it is that Van Nuys is represented on the commission and cautioned the commissioners not to forget the concerns of the San Fernando Valley.
Under the 2000 city charter, the Airport Commission is expanded from five members to seven, with one to come from the neighborhood near LAX and one from the area near Van Nuys airport.
Walter will represent the LAX area while Levine will fill the Van Nuys spot.
Galanter, whose district includes LAX, said she was pleased to hear her colleagues push for a regional solution.
“This has been a very long fight for me,” Galanter said. “I think we can do this. It’s going to be fun.”
Commissioners also heard from members of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.
The alliance, who protested past actions of the commission in trying to block the payment of living wages to workers and allowed workers to be laid off, spoke at the City Council meeting, urging commissioners to help more than 55,000 workers at LAX keep their jobs.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company