Moore Commissioners Reprimand Airport Authority
Over Refusal to Answer Information Request
Airport Managers Also Lambasted for Rejecting
Women-Voters Invitation to Public Forum,
Verbal Assault on T-SAW Taxpayer Group
Tim Lea Again Casts Lone Vote
Against Funding for Airport Expansion
CARTHAGE, Feb. 21 – Moore County Commissioners blasted the Airport Authority for rejecting the Commissioners’ request for an explanation of how 15 parcels of land ended up in the hands of the Authority, instead of County taxpayers as originally intended.
"I’ve heard time and time again ... that this property is controlled by the Moore County Board of Commissioners. It is not," Commissioner
'February, the month the Airport Authority was exposed
for the web of deception and distortion that
Airport managers have weaved for years’
Tim Lea told the Board at its Feb. 21st session. Lea added that land taken by the authority was supposed to have been deeded back to the County taxpayers, but that never happened.
"My concern is ... (the Authority) can encumber this property" without coming to the Commissioners for approval. While the Airport Authority is required by law to ask for permission to sell the property, airport managers can do anything else with it, including leasing it out.
"By putting that property in the Airport Authority’s name," Lea told airport managers Ron Maness and Carol Thomas, "you take control of it away from Moore County taxpayers."
Commissioners unanimously requested the real estate data at their Feb. 7th meeting. "A simple request," said Lea, later adding, "Since we do the appointments to the (Airport Authority), we should at least receive the courtesy of a response. For that to be totally ignored is causing me heartburn."
Lea also chastised the Airport Authority for failing to submit minutes of their meetings for Commissioners’ review and approval as required.
Commissioners’ Chairman Larry Caddell said he would get an explanation from Airport Authority Chairman John Owen. "I don’t see how it’s such a big deal. I’ll deal with it personally."
"Mr. Caddell needs to be told it is a very big deal to us taxpayers," Fred Korb, chairman of Taxpayers to Stop Airport Waste (T-SAW), remarked after the meeting. "Every piece of property deeded to the Airport automatically goes off the County tax rolls. That’s just one more way County taxpayers are paying directly for this misguided plan to expand the airport."
"February," said Korb, "will be recalled as the month the Moore County Airport Authority showed its true stripes. They’ve been exposed for the web of deception and distortion that Airport managers have been weaving for years."
Korb referred to two recent incidents which showed the Authority’s arrogant contempt for County taxpayers.
One, the Authority’s refusal to take part in a public forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
The other, the insulting verbal assault directed against him at the last meeting of the Airport Authority board.
In a letter to Authority Chairman Owen, Korb’s son Dave wrote, "We are shocked by, and we protest, Board Secretary Bill Bateman’s unprovoked verbal assault against my father and me after adjournment of (the Feb. 14) board meeting.
"Bateman’s threatening tone, his harassment and insults must surely be an embarrassment to other members of the board."
(click here to read the entire letter)
The T-SAW representatives asked Owen whether the public can expect the same treatment at an upcoming Airport open house, which the Authority has tentatively scheduled for March 31. Owen said the public will be offered a presentation on airport expansion, but will only be allowed to ask questions, not to present any contrary points of view.
"This unfortunate incident is further evidence," Korb wrote, "that your ‘open house’ is designed to restrict public comment (in Ron Maness’s words, to keep "control of this thing").
Authority Chairman Owen said he rejected an invitation from the County League of Women Voters to participate in a real public forum on airport expansion, because "it was not productive in our view."
The League had already invited T-SAW to make a presentation of its own, when the Women-Voters forum had to be cancelled due to Owen’s refusal to take part in informal debate. "It’s League policy to have all sides in any controversy represented at their forums," said Fred Korb. "As a League member, I have to respect that, despite being very disappointed the forum had to be called off."
In their letter, T-SAW leaders urged Owen to "avoid further embarrassment by reconsidering and accepting the League’s invitation. With all due respect, sir, refusal appears to have contributed to the public perception of your "public forum" as a sham.
"We are offended by the Airport Authority’s specious, ever-changing, arguments for carrying on with airport expansion. Many of our T-SAW friends succeeded as entrepreneurs on their wits; they take a dim view of a "business/welfare client" that relies for its existence on government handouts.
"Accept this reality, John: You cannot silence the hundreds of Moore County taxpayers, who oppose the waste of tax dollars on airport expansion, as much as you might try."
From the T-SAW archive
What The Pilot Got Wrong
State Taxes, Not 'Tourism' Levy, Funding Airport Expansion
Paper Fails to Correct Reporting Errors!!!