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Talk of the Town: Sue Georgino’s consulting job

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Photo: FLLewis / Media City G -- Councilman Dr. David Gordon at the city council meeting in Burbank September 15, 2015

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G — Councilman Dr. David Gordon at the city council meeting in Burbank September 15, 2015

For months now, there has been chatter around B-town about former Burbank Airport Commissioner, Sue Georgino, and where her true loyalties lie. On the city council agenda tonight, a discussion regarding Georgino’s decision to take a consulting job with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority less than a year, after resigning her position as a commissioner on that authority representing the interests of the city of Burbank.

Recently, Councilman, Dr. David Gordon, requested the matter be agendized after disclosing Georgino was hired last May “to provide strategic planning for a 14-gate replacement passenger terminal project at the Bob Hope Airport.” As an airport commissioner, Georgino participated in closed-door negotiating with Burbank officials striving to come up with a proposal for a new terminal that protects the interests and concerns of Media City residents. Georgino has now switched teams and is providing her “expertise” to the authority. This comes at a time when the atmosphere surrounding the negotiations between the airport and Burbank officials is tense and filled with distrust. Understandably, there are concerns about conflict of interest and questions about Georgino’s dedication to the city of Burbank.

A few days ago, in a Burbank Leader article, Georgino defended herself: “I’m not really sure what (Dr. Gordon) he’s driving at,” Georgino said. “It’s hard for me to understand why he would think … that I would in any way, shape or form [harm Burbank].” Hmm, maybe we need to take a look back at the way Georgino left the city hanging after resigning her position as an airport commissioner to get a clearer picture of her feelings for Burbank.

Georgino, a longtime resident of Burbank, and her husband made the conscious decision to move out of Burbank and into Toluca Lake. Back on November 25, 2014, the city council held a difficult and sometimes contentious debate over whether to enforce the city’s residency requirement in  section 2-1-407 of the Burbank Municipal Code, which states “No person shall be eligible to be a member of any board, commission, or committee unless he/she is an elector of, and actually lives in the City.”

Georgino has friends at City Hall, who lobbied for the city council to make an exception for her. At the end of a long discussion, the council voted 4-to-1 to uphold the city code, but asked Georgino to stay on for a short period, about two months, until a successor could be appointed. The yes votes: Emily Gabel-Luddy, Jess Talamantes, Bob Frutos, and Dr. Gordon. The lone dissenter, Gary Bric.

Resignation Letter

The next morning, bright and early, Georgino sent a resignation letter to the City Clerk’s Office. Here it is.

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From: Sue Georgino <sg@georginodevelopment.com>
Date: November 26, 2014 at 6:00:46 AM PST
To: “Mullins, Zizette” <zmullins@burbankca.gov>
Cc: “Scott, Mark” <mscott@burbankca.gov>, “Dan Feger (DFEGER@bur.org)” <dfeger@bur.org>, Steve Madison <stevemadison@quinnemanuel.com>
Subject: Resignation

Zizette,

Please transmit this email to the City Council.

Three years ago this past August when Airport Commissioner Charlie Lombardo passed away, Burbank lost a passionate advocate for the community and Burbank Bob Hope Airport. I was honored to be appointed to serve out his term and then to be reappointed last year. I have tried to represent this community with the same dedication that Charlie exhibited. First and foremost, I want to thank you for the confidence you’ve shown for my work and thank you for the honor of serving. It has been an privilege to serve this community for over 32 years both as an employee and as an appointed representative. As you know, my husband, Vic and I sold our home in Burbank. Unfortunately, our new home is not located within the Burbank city limits. As of this letter, I am resigning effective immediately from both the Burbank Glendale Pasadena Airport Authority Commission and the Burbank Successor Agency Oversight Board.

I also want to thank my fellow Commissioners and Oversight Board members. I cannot express how much I enjoyed working with the Burbank Commissioners and my colleagues on the Oversight Board. Serving on the Airport Authority was a unique experience. In addition to my Burbank colleagues, I served with individuals representing Glendale and Pasadena. I have been impressed with the insights and experience of the Commissioners. Meeting after meeting, I watched them make decisions thoughtfully vetted through multiple lenses. I can assure you that their decisions are made based on not only what is best for the airport and for the region; but with tremendous consideration for the airport’s impacts on the Burbank and what they would want if they were representing our great city. While I understand the history of acrimony with past Commissions, I believe that you have never had a better Commission with which to work.

I want to thank you for the faith you’ve shown in your commissioners and for realizing that we work to insure that Burbank Bob Hope Airport is a safe, well run, economically strong asset that will always be respectful of its impacts on the Burbank community. As the newest Commissioner, I have relied on Bill and Don to help me understand the challenges and I’ve loved working with them.

We are at a vitally important crossroads for the airport and for regional transportation. The case for the construction of a safe, modern 14 gate replacement terminal has been made and should not be a subject for debate. The existing terminal is too close to the runway, is over 84 years old, and portions of it don’t meet current seismic design standards. While the need for a replacement terminal should not be debated, it’s time for the community to understand the issues encompassed by this project and have a thoughtful conversation about the future of the airport and Burbank’s role in its governance.

Today, we seem to be bombarded with the politics of negativity. Rather than embracing a positive vision for the future; it seems that being negative and cynical is the path too easily taken. However, I believe true civic leadership only occurs when we trust those that represent us to reflect our values and aspirations. I have watched as you have made tough decisions thoughtfully weighing the pros and cons of projects and initiatives. You listen to the community input and strive to be good stewards for the future of this great City. I look forward to your reaching consensus about the future of Burbank Bob Hope Airport with your colleagues from Glendale and Pasadena. I also look forward to the public discussion that will play an integral role in that consensus and hopefully will support the future of the Burbank Bob Hope Airport with a positive Measure B vote. Please be assured that regardless of our address, my husband, Vic, and I love Burbank and fully intend to stay engaged in community service.

Thank you for all you do for this great community.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan M. Georgino

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Georgino’s decision to “resign immediately,” and not help facilitate a smooth transition to a new appointee, shocked and surprised many in B-town. What kind of love is that? Many saw it as unprofessional and a few classified it as “giving the finger” to the city on her way out the door.

Tonight, the city council needs to take a serious look at Georgino’s actions again, this time her acceptance of a position as a consultant with the airport authority. The task requires they put sentimental feelings aside and do what is in the best interest of the residents of Burbank. Sometimes, even the appearance of a conflict of interest can be damaging.

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