Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Here is my third salvo against the Unified Government; to use an old gunnery term, I now have City Hall ”bracketed.” This third effort, concerning turning control of Athens-Ben Epps Airport over to the Clarke County Airport Authority (be sure to read the comments underneath the online version for the context of my rejoinder below), follows closely on the heels of my first concerning extending water and sanitary sewer lines into the formerly unincorporated areas of the county and my second about instituting a lower millage rate in the general services district. Those readers who are perceptive will note that all three missives concern the Unified Government’s Charter. Those readers who are even more perceptive will note that all three issues are lifted directly from my 2006 campaign platform.

Regarding the current broadside, I fully anticipated that some would (rather intentionally I suspect) not get past the word “may.” However, as used in the Act (and hence the Charter), the word “may” gives the Clarke County Airport Authority the legal basis to request control of the airport from the Unified Government, and similarly gives the Unified Government the legal basis to transfer control of the airport to the Authority. Besides, any question as to the intent of the Act (and hence the Charter) is clearly answered thus: “It is declared that the conveyance of such property is necessary and essential in order to accomplish the purposes of this Act so as to secure the public welfare, safety, and convenience." So much for the “may” argument.

Regarding my interest in the matter, I flew through Ben Epps a couple of times on US Air and took my wife to an air show there years ago – and that is it. I have never owned an airplane nor had occasion to deal with any of the businesses located at the airport. So much for “hidden vested interest” argument.

The issue is important because it shows, yet again, the Unified Government’s approach to what is supposed to be its foundational document. Namely, that of ignoring it whenever City Hall finds the provisions of the Charter to be inconvenient or in conflict with whatever progressive shibboleth to come down the pike. And, of course, now is the time to discuss such matters if ever there was one, because the Overview Commission is in the process of its once per decade review of the Charter. At least in theory, anyway – quite frankly, given the (scant) press coverage of that which the Commission is concerning itself, I have little faith that the group will come up with much of value (but we shall see).

When I first became aware of the matter back in 2005 or 2006, I spoke to various folks who should have been in the know about the Authority – and got completely differing versions. Some thought that the Authority should be content with the status quo and let the Unified Government exercise its superior administrative and financial control of the airport; others lamented the fact that the airport turned a profit and that the Unified Government was siphoning said profit out of the airport for its own purposes (and as the Authority lacked its own attorney or control over its own funds, it could not fight the Unified Government in court). I do not claim to know which, if either, if the truth.

So why not put the matter forth for public discussion instead of City Hall simply stonewalling?

Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My question is, why do we bother supporting the airport at all? Seems like tax dollars could be spent better than that.