St. Clair County Board members on Monday had a chance to step up and take responsibility for MidAmerica Airport. Ten members did. Eighteen ducked and covered by continuing the head-nodder tradition that is the hallmark of St. Clair County politics and leadership.
The County Board had a bi-partisan proposal to take on full oversight of MidAmerica Airport. Currently appointees of County Board Chairman Mark Kern serve on the Public Building Commission and are responsible for maintaining county buildings and the wholly unrelated task of operating an airport with a $12 million operating loss each year.
They do not answer to the voters whose property taxes are driven up by the $12 million airport subsidy. They do not answer to those who live without the sheriff’s department protections. They do not answer to those denied services and amenities the county would offer were they not propping up an untenable business model.
Proponents pointed out that when the airport employee contracts need approval, those come before the County Board. When the airport cuts a deal to subsidize an airline’s new service, elected leaders get no say.
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The head-nodders made noise about the intergovernmental agreement with the Public Building Commission and how it needed to be changed to allow direct control. So change it. Take on the responsibility voters expected you to take on.
Voters, too, need to remember who refused to be responsible for the airport. They were: Board members Robert Allen, Joan McIntosh, Roy Mosley Jr., Lonnie Mosley, Ken Easterly, C. Richard Vernier, Dixie Seibert, Jerry Dinges, Angela Grossmann-Roewe, Robert Trentman, June Chartrand, Curtis Jones, Michael Baker, Marty Crawford, Lorraine Haywood, Kenneth Sharkey, Joseph Kassly and Carol Clark.
If these 18 folks are so afraid of making decisions about the county’s greatest financial drain, maybe they need to be replaced. Lead, or get out of the way.