Mayor Frutos joins Rep. Schiff at State of the Union address (Los Angeles Times)

Among the audience members at President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address on Tuesday was Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos, a guest of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank).

“Pleased to host @BurbankCA Mayor Frutos at tonight's #SOTU address,” Schiff posted on Twitter, along with a photo of him and Frutos on a staircase in front of the 20-by-30-foot Howard Chandler Christy painting of the signing of the United States Constitution, shortly before the address began. “Thank you for your leadership in our community!”

The congressman said he chose Frutos, who is the first Burbank mayor he’s invited to the address, because of his efforts negotiating with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on plans for a proposed replacement terminal. The Burbank City Council and the authority agreed to conceptual terms for the project in November.


“The mayor’s done a really remarkable job,” Schiff said during a phone interview, especially in bringing the three cities together on the issue and moving it forward. “I really respect the hard work he’s put into it.”


Each congressional member is allowed one ticket for a seat in the chamber for the president’s annual in-person address before joint sessions of Congress.


“The State of the Union is really the world’s most unique political theater,” Schiff said, adding that it features “superb oratory, audience involvement, drama.”


Frutos said he got “goose bumps” watching Obama’s speech from the House gallery, a balcony overlooking the floor of the chamber. He said he had an unobstructed view of the president.


Schiff also took Frutos to a reception hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), where he introduced him to Pelosi and other colleagues. Frutos said he initially felt overwhelmed as a small-town mayor in a room full of the nation’s leaders, but Schiff soon made him feel special.


“Adam Schiff made me feel like I was really, really important,” he said.


Frutos said the invitation was a gesture that showed Schiff’s commitment to working with elected officials in Burbank and demonstrated his accessibility. He also noted that Schiff has played a part in the airport negotiations, helping bring the parties to the table after talks stalled last spring, in part because Frutos sought stronger protections for the city than what airport officials had offered.


Schiff also arranged a meeting with Federal Aviation Administration officials last month to discuss the project and the possibility of a mandatory nighttime curfew at the airfield.


The trip, which Frutos said he paid for personally, allowed him to see a side of Schiff that he hadn’t seen before and to get to know him as “just a regular guy.” It also gave him “face time” not only to build relationships with Congress members, but with the city’s lobbyists in Washington, D.C.


“It was an opportunity to shake hands and let people know that Burbank is engaged,” Frutos said.

Source: Los Angeles Times