Bill Boyarsky
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Good food and no lobbyists needed at LAX

Unless you own an international airline or perhaps ride on one, donít expect much relief from the much-heralded Los Angeles airport modernization plan.

Thatís the news I took away from a Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum lunch where Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl was the speaker. He represents the district and is one of the architects of the modernization.

I hate to be negative about anything Rosendahl says. As he began his speech at the luncheon, he complimented me hugely for my performance as a journalist and as a guest on his cable television show. But duty calls.

What I hate most about LAX are the food outlets (I wouldnít call them restaurants) and the marginally maintained bathrooms. Second on my hate list are the lack of a variety of shops, found in other airports, and the generally dreary look of the placeónot to mention the crowded terminals.

Rosendahl promised us a terrifically improved Bradley international terminal. But thatís no help to us poor domestic travelers.
And he didnít mention the food outlets, shops and bathrooms in the domestic terminals.

The populist outspoken Rosendahl is an outsider on the council. Heíd really be an outsider if he talked about the true reason for the sorry conditions of airport concessions. Being too much of a truth teller doesnít help you with the council crowd.

Big companies want these concessions and are giving big contributions and hiring hot lobbyists to help them win a franchise. This is a gold mine for council members and their campaign treasuries and for the lobbyists who have such enormous clout at city hall. None of them want to shut down the gold mine.

Our airport should be as good as San Franciscoís. There, travelers find good if not great restaurants and pleasant shops that sell the cityís signature products like sourdough French bread and Ghirardelli Chocolate. There is also an excellent bookstore.

Why not have an open competition for restaurants and shops here? We love food and shopping in LA. Letís have a tasting and shopping contest for the concessions, with the prizes going to the best cooks and retailers instead of to a bunch of tasteless backroom operators.

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