Airport board’s action sends wrong message

The tone-deaf Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority seems to have a hard time understanding the concept of transparency. Or maybe it just doesn’t care.

Intentional or not, that’s the message the board is sending. In selecting an internal candidate as the lone finalist for the vacant airport manager’s job, the board has revealed a sizable blind spot in its understanding of “optics,” or the way the public perceives things.

The board has undergone months of heightened scrutiny in the wake of a federal investigation that aroused serious misgivings about its oversight function and led to the dismissal of former aviation director Rex Tippetts.

As a result, the board overhauled policies, tightened internal controls and promised to be more open about the way it conducts its business.

We took that as a sign that it had learned a lesson about the importance of transparency. But the board’s search for a new airport manager proves it still has a way to go.

Most local government entities publicly vet candidates for top-level administrative posts. There’s no legal requirement to do this. The airport board has every right to select a new airport manager without scheduling a public listening session or a “meet the finalists” forum. But why wouldn’t it? A scandal-ridden board does not restore the public’s confidence in how it does its job by selecting an internal candidate as its only finalist and making no public announcement about it. The board simply posted a finalist list to its website — a bare-minimum effort to inform the public.

The board seems certain that Ben Johnson is the best man for the job. Indeed, Tom Frishe made a convincing case that he’s uniquely suited to succeed here. And maybe he is; but the questionable process that led to his slection undermines that vote of confidence. Johnson is the current airport operations manager and was initially a member of the search committee. He quit the committee and applied for the job after a nationwide search produced no qualified candidates.

To be fair, the board hasn’t made a final vote on Johnson’s hiring. It has a solid record of allowing public comment, so the public still has a chance to weigh in on this matter at the board’s next meeting Aug. 19.

But we think it could avoid any second-guessing by acknowledging that the national search was a bust and starting the process over. Let Johnson’s understanding of airport operations speak for itself. By publicly contrasting his views with those of an outside candidate — someone who might be able to put a fresh set of eyes on the airport’s biggest challenges — the board can avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Otherwise, the board leaves itself wide open to interpretation. Is Johnson a hand-picked puppet — a board yes-man in the making? If the board wants to avoid such speculation, it should change course. Transparency can avert any misperceptions.


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Spare us more lecturing by the Sentinel.  Let us recall the Sentinel steadfastly defended Rex Tippetts, and ran an editorial supporting him even after hundreds of citizens presented compelling evidence that something was amiss.  The Sentinel might have mentioned that members of the public, not just Board members served on the search committee, and interviewed the other candidates.  The Sentinel also neglects to distinguish between the old board, that they defended while it screwed up the airport, and this new board, that has worked hard to fix it .  Sanctimonious dribble.  Where were you when it mattered Sentinel?

My bet, Mr Shepard, is that you post will be taken down. Any negative comments about the Sentinel and/Lois Dunn have a way of doing that. GOB & G have it covered. Just ask them. Their response is always “trust us.”

I think it is important to note that the finalist list was posted in the following locations for over 2-weeks:
1. Grand Junction Regional Airport Website,
2. Public Posting Board at City Hall
3. Public Posting Board at the County Court House
4. Published in the Legal Notices in the Daily Sentinel, on August 7, 2014.

Exactly what was that intended to do? CYA? Yea or nay on one 1 (ONE) candidate? A candidate selected by the “board?” Why is it necessary to spin it? The “board” has their man and that is that. GOB & G in control. Why not tell it like it is?

Not Freida Cook - Am a relative - Patrick Rodgers - A common element of Organizational Development theory is to grow leaders from within the company.  What this entails is while you may do an open recruitment for a position, if there is an “equally qualified” man or woman within, they should get the job.  This process is good at all levels of the organization because it shows employees their contributions and hard work to the company is valued.  In addition,  it provides the newly promoted leader with insider knowledge on issues to be faced and the stakeholders dealing with them.  Moral of the story, it is always good to promote from within, whenever possible.

Such as all of the “crook” methods? Cover ups? Keeping skeletons hidden? And when the “organization” is flawed it is best to get someone who is not beholdin’ to the crooks.

Jerry, just wondering… everyone in Grand Junction a crook?  I think you have been watching too many reruns of Law & Order?

If t5hey are part of of the GOB & G and/or have been in every office or on every board imaginable. Why ask me a STUPID question like that. Do you NOT keep up. Look around dummy. Taxes on food (Comrade Norris), airport (everyone on that board has some responsibility), republican party ( Dunn and others), GJHS (?), Hilkey, CMU president. I think you are just blind and stupid. How in hell do you know what I watch? You seem to know much about Law and order?

Not Freida Cook - Am Patrick Rodgers - Jerry, I can clearly now there is a conspiracy at work in GJ and you are the only rightous person in town.  Must be terrible to have to survive such an environment.  As I see it, you have two choices?  You can either run for office and help clean up what you see as a mess, or just sit on the sidelines whining about it.  We both know which of those options you will choose, don’t we? On the Media, big brother is watching and keeping book on you.  Hope you haven’t been watching anything illegal on your computer or the “men in black” will be knocking on your door.

LOL. Mr Know it all. Again how in hell do you know what I do or watch? I am NOT self righteous. As I said Mr Know It All. How do you know what choices I have? You just run your damned mouth like a democrap and throw any old crap out there. You worry about the “men in black.” I do NOT. I really could care less who is keeping book. You are an idiot. Bring it.

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