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Will Rogers

September 08, 2001

Today is the League of Women Voters forum for both sides to debate the

merits of the ballot initiative Measure A, but the nonsense started long

ago. We can only pray the silliness hit its peak early this week when a

Measure A champion asked the two men he thought he'd be debating to drop

out of the forum.

Howard Rothenbach, who with former councilman Ted McConkey authored

the initiative promising a simple, magic solution to ongoing airport

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woes, wrote a letter this week that serves perfectly as an exemplar of

their tactics, skills and competence, or, more accurately, of their

shortcomings on all three fronts.

From the legal eagles who brought us Measure A, a proposed city

ordinance unfettered by state law, federal regulations and the U.S.

Constitution, came a legal analysis so moronic that I expected better

even of them.

On Tuesday, Rothenbach believed Measure A's forum foes would be local

resident Tom Bruehl and Rev. Larry Stamper, pastor of Burbank's First

United Methodist Church. Aside from Bruehl's job at Paramount Studios,

and his roles with local civic groups, he volunteers for the Providence

St. Joseph Foundation.

Rothenbach's letter charged that Stamper's and Bruehl's forum

participation would imperil the tax-exempt status of the church and the

hospital charity. Employing logic as twisted as his claims that Measure A

can withstand the legal challenges virtually every expert has opined it

will succumb to, Rothenbach said Bruehl and Stamper opposing the measure

would constitute the foundation and church engaging in "lobbying

activities." With the skill of an elementary school student rifling law

books, Rothenbach cited laws and rulings that forbid "charitable

organizations" from lobbying.

In fact, Measure A's forum opponents won't include Stamper, a former

mayor and councilman, but I'll get back to that. And demonstrating the

same disregard for detail exhibited in crafting Measure A, Rothenbach's

letter got Bruehl's volunteer title wrong. He's a board member, not the

chairman, president or any other kind of officer.

Adding the patina of hysteria seen in everything Rothenbach and

McConkey touch, and their dire concern for innocent victims, the letter

added that the tax deductions of donors to the church or hospital may be

disallowed if the charity-stained pair take part in the forum.

The well-typed, formal letter was utter rubbish, citations based on a

ludicrous assumption, completely out of context, with omissions big as

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