JIM LUFF: Did bureaucratic underlings at LAX try to retaliate when I requested a decal and transponder?
As you might recall, I recently vented about the hassles of renewing our operating authority at the Los Angeles International Airport. Well, it does seem that I may have spoken too soon about many things. I should not have written about LAX on this blog on March 19 when I had one more car that needed a decal and transponder to complete the process. I know I said I was complete but I had just one more car to take care of.
I did my best to schedule it around an airport drop off so that it would not be a total waste of time, money and fuel again. When I called to make the appointment with LAX officials, I asked for an 11 a.m. appointment to coincide with the time we would drop off. The young lady I was speaking with snapped back at me and said, “No, I can take you at 1:30 p.m. and that’s the only time we can see you.” It would still save me money to have my chauffeur sit in the parking lot of LAX for two and half hours after his drop off rather than make an appointment on another day without any other business to conduct at LAX. I reluctantly took the appointment time offered.
Next, the lady I was speaking with proceeded to tell me how I said unkind and untruthful things about LAX in articles published by LCT Magazine and I should be more responsible about what I write. I asked her to clarify what she thought was untrue, unclear or lied about. She replied, “I will see you at 1:30 p.m. on Monday.” I was a little stunned that they read my blog. I was equally honored as well. I know and they know that I didn’t write anything that wasn’t EXACTLY as it happened or how their office operates.
So, on Monday, my son Jeff decided after his drop off at 11 a.m. to just show up at Landside Operations at LAX and see just how busy they really were. As it turns out, they were not busy at all. In fact, no one was there. He asked if someone might be able to inspect the car now. He called me shortly after the inspection to tell me they did not approve of the car and would not decal it or put a transponder on it. I asked him why. He said he was told that our decal with our permit number was too small. I found this very odd since we buy decals in bulk. They are all the same size. They are 1.5 inches and visible from 50-feet as required by the California Public Utilities Commission General Order 157D, Section 4.04. I was livid. I knew this was a direct retaliation for my blog.
I called LAX and asked to speak to a specific manager with LAX. I was told she was not available today and the rep on the phone, who is well known to me, asked if there was anything he could do to help me. My reply, “I doubt it.” I told him I needed to speak to the top ranking manager or official in the building — right now! He asked me what was going on. In an uncontrolled fit of anger, I told him I was calling to find out what the (expletive) was going on. That got his attention.
I sat on hold for a total of 11 minutes before someone picked up the line. I believe it was their intention to leave me there until I hung up. When I would not go away, my call was answered by Sidney “Skip” Tribble. He reiterated to me that my decal was too small. I asked him to cite the ordinance. He said it was the policy of LAX that you must have 2-inch letters. I told him that the state PUC regulations and federal regulations both conflict with “LAX policy” and asked, “How, as a municipality, are you going to trump state and federal requirements?”
He seemed perplexed. I told him that LAX, in their infinite wisdom, does not have the power or authority to change state law. I demanded he cite the specific regulation in my contract with LAX. He had to call me back.
When he did call me back, he cited their ordinance that says, you must have decals that are at least 2-inches tall. I told him that I was going to take my car to the local Highway Patrol office and ask them if they were able to read it my decals from 50 feet. If they could, I would have them certify it in writing as a state agency to trump their little airport office opinion.
Mr. Tribble then sent me the following email:
I am waiting for feedback from Airport Police. Please be patient. I will respond, when I have the information you seek.
Sidney “Skip” Tribble
Regulatory Compliance and Standards — where problems depart and satisfaction arrives.
Here is where the story takes a drastic turn. Mr. Tribble was the most kind, considerate, caring and concerned official I have ever spoken with at LAX. I found his signature line to be intriguing. He is unlike any of the others that work in that hate-filled office and I told him so. I told him that his office is permeated by employees that act as if we are a complete bother to them, yet, we are the purpose of their employment. He stated that he was new and he intended to change that. I hope the people who work in that office are still reading! Grow up! Be grateful you have your nice little government job — funded by us private sector businesses and taxpayers — mostly because of our industry. Don’t forget where that paycheck comes from! It comes directly from us at $4 a pop!
And by the way, there’s more where this came from. If I have to do another blog post, it is going straight to the media in Los Angeles.
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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