Thursday, July 11, 2013

The hypocrisy of the latest airport bill

We can't believe this even needs to be said: Whatever the best governance of the Charlotte airport may be, those who want to seize control of it from the city are, thanks to legislation being debated today, now guilty of blatant hypocrisy.

Advocates of handing airport control to an independent authority have said Charlotte Douglas needs to be protected from city meddling. They were especially wary of the city trying to get its hands on airport revenues for other uses. There was enough smoke to think that the city might have at least been exploring such moves, and it shouldn't.

Now, the latest version of the General Assembly's airport bill, on the House floor today, would allow surrounding governments to receive Charlotte airport money for their own airports. So we don't want Charlotte getting its grubby hands on airport money, but we're OK with that money going to Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln and Union counties?

As Republican City Council member Warren Cooksey said, "That boggles my mind."

Stan Campbell, who has been working with legislators on the authority bill, said last month that keeping Charlotte airport money at the Charlotte airport was vital. "The fact they're looking to scam money out of the airport shows how important it is to get it out of the hands of these guys," Campbell said about the City Council.

Campbell said he worried the city intends to raid the airport to fund projects such as a streetcar. The only way to protect it is to establish an authority, he argued.

"I think they're just pretending to lay low, and when everybody turns their back, they'll do it again," he said.

Now Senate Bill 81, being debated on the House floor this morning, allows Charlotte airport money to be spent in five surrounding counties. Campbell said he is not concerned that revenue from Charlotte Douglas would be diverted to those counties. But it's right there in black and white in Section 6.(a) that it could. And it doesn't say the authority has to take over the regional airports to help them here and there. It's not hard to imagine that, with $678 million in cash reserves last year, an independent authority holding the purse strings could spread some good cheer to well-placed advocates around the region. Particularly with half the authority coming from regional counties, as the bill requires.

Advocates of an authority still haven't made the case that one of the world's best-run airports needs fundamental governance changes. And they sure haven't made the case that while airport revenues need to be protected from the City Council, they should be a piggy bank for our neighbors.

-- Taylor Batten



4 comments:

John@UNCClt_News said...

Agreed.

candyselley said...

Thank you Taylor Batten for your intelligent comments. I am disgusted with this legislature, this airport move, this power grab. I hope my city fights it tooth and nail. And how many citizens is Ruth Samuelson representing?

Veronica said...

I think the legislature is right on track.

Above all else the airport needs to be kept out of the hands of the city council who only want to raid its coffers to mop up their red ink.

Now that annexation is over Charlotte needs to learn to live within its means.

I guess it should be no surprise that the Observer was all in favor of annexation when it was happening to suburban homeowners...but...now that a part of Charlotte may get annexed in a sense the Observer is suddenly shocked and outraged.

Kudos to the state legislature. If the corrupt are this angry you must be doing something right.

Zon said...

Veronica - You're an idiot. So it's OK for surrounding counties to put their hands in the Charlotte airport coffers, but not the city that owns it? If the city has such nefarious intentions, why are there $600 million in reserves? While the Republicans rail on the city council by accusing them of raiding airport monies for political agenda, that has been their intention for stealing our airport all along.

Doesn't matter. The City is going to sue for compensation and when the state and these Podunk counties get the bill their minds will change quickly.