For the last week I have been baffled and disappointed by what is occurring at the Chattanooga airport. It truly is sad that a taxpayer-subsidized facility has not only driven a private business out of town, but has also lost over $1 million since its construction under the Ron Littlefield administration. Rather than address this discrepancy, the Airport Board now hopes to put more money into a bad decision using a $10 million bond issuance.
The Airport Authority board’s silence on the issue thus far indicates either a lack of confidence in their decision or fear of backlash resulting from it. Above all, their silence has prompted many Chattanoogans to question the airport’s future direction as well as its current leadership structure.
A rule of thumb for cases such as this: if they adamantly oppose releasing information for public scrutiny, they very likely have something to hide. My question – what does the Airport Authority board so desperately want to hide from the public?
According to Airport spokesperson Albert Waterhouse, the board "has put additional financing in place so the airport can continue to strategically meet the future needs of all our customers." This quote is nothing more than a public relations tactic intended to avoid any elaboration or explanation about the board’s decision.
The public deserves more than another uninformative Waterhouse pivot statement. If the Airport Authority continues their silence on the issue and refusal to show the public any substantial information about its current dealings, the Chattanooga public will demand change.
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Today, the Chattanooga Airport Authority Board will vote to encumber we the people to a bond issue to buy TAC Air for about $10 million. The Airport is owned by the public, and I don’t care what their revenue source is, the facilities are owned by the taxpayers.
The Airport Authority refuses to provide media, watch groups, or citizens documents or details of their secret deal to buy out Tac Air with municipal bond issues.
The appointed Chattanooga Airport Authority Board not only refused inquiry, but a board member actually hung up the telephone on a state-wide watch group called, Tennessee Watch Dog, with insulting comments about their inquiry or questions.
It is just mind boggling that none of our elected representatives from the elected City Council or members of our state legislative delegation are demanding that the Airport Authority produce for public review the details of how this $10 millionof public bond issues will be spent in detail, or share what insiders know is a buy out of a for-profit private airplane facility, TAC Air. We want to see this information prior to the vote, not after.
The Chattanooga Airport is a publicly-owned facility. What kind of arrogance of power by this appointed board's authority thinks they can enter into bond issues or contracts to buy out a private company without public review or public deliberation. What is worse is that our own elected officials, our representation are not demanding the Airport Authority produce these documents at a public hearing prior to spending $10 million.
If we the people do have representation through our elected officials and the Airport Authority refuses disclosure to state watch groups or media, what kind of government is the Airport Authority?
Let us see the deal, before the deal is done.