Airport consultant just looking for a meal ticket

30 Jul

I went to the Airport Commission meeting the other night to hear a couple of reports and frankly, my head is swimming so full of bullshit I have a hard time putting it into words. 

Excuse me – Frank Fields’ budget report was no bullshit, just straight facts. Frank was detailing the actions that led to essential bankruptcy out at the airport – the airport fund has been completely in the red the last few years, despite a million dollar infusion from the feds every year. Frank explained that the airport fund has been pilfered by way of an initiative passed by council – “cost allocation.”

“cost allocation” is the system by which you steal money from one fund to pay salaries from another department. I sat through that meeting – Chris Constantin explained that every time they have a meeting, they pay staff out of the fund they’re talking about at the meeting, get it? So if they discuss the sewer at an Internal Affairs meeting, the staffers present at that meeting get paid out of the sewer fund. And the electricity for the room, the coffee, Dani Brinkley’s foot wear, the whole nine yards, comes out of the sewer fund. That, by the way, is also how the sewer fund, and the development fund,  ended up in the red to the tune of a million dollars or so a piece.

Then Fields explained another measure passed by council – when a fund is in the red, staff now takes money out of the General Fund to cover it.  And the books are good! 

I think we missed all this. I’m guessing they were threatened with some sort of punishment if they didn’t come up with a better set of books, so here we are. They had too much red ink in their books, and you know what that looks like.  On Perry Mason it’s called embezzlement.

Despite the fact that the city gets about a million dollars a year in federal grants to keep it open for the fire fighting planes, the airport fund is still in the red every year because of the cost allocation bullshit. They haven’t been putting any money into the airport. If you listened really carefully to Tom, the $190,000 consultant from AVPorts consulting firm, you find the real reason we don’t have commercial air service is we have no terminal, and our runway is inadequate. He really slid those by, talking instead about how we need to give him a contract to attract the airlines. He didn’t want to give us too much bad news at once.  He wants us to hire him to do a job he admittedly can’t do. 

We don’t have commercial air service because we haven’t been keeping our airport up to modern standards. We’ll need a new tower, a longer runway, and a brand new fancy terminal. We’ll also need to guarantee them a certain amount of profit – or pay them an “incentive” charge of hundreds of thousands a year. 

But Tom went on and on, getting really excited toward the end of his presentation. While he admitted our chances of getting commercial service were really poor, he kept saying we have to try. 

The major obstacle being – Redding has already done all the stuff above. He expects us to steal customers from Redding, that’s the only way his scheme will work. 

I’ve got pages of notes on this guy – I’ll boil it down for you. Watch “Music Man.” 

And I’ll tell you what else – the feds are going to walk away with their million a year if we don’t make major infrastructural improvements out there. We won’t even have the fire fighting planes if $taff doesn’t quit embezzling that fund to pay their pensions off. 

Orme isn’t telling us everything. He’s sitting on a pile of trouble, I hope it goes right up his ass.

Here’s what I think – why pander after the airlines? Why not wait until they are knocking on our door? 

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8 Responses to “Airport consultant just looking for a meal ticket”

  1. Jim July 30, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    As I understand it, the runway is long enough, and the tower is also sufficient. The issue is that the terminal isn’t big enough to accommodate enough passengers & modern security requirements. Also with only one gate it wouldn’t be able to accommodate multiple airlines. However at best that is a very long way off.

    • Juanita Sumner July 30, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

      you know, I’ve heard the same at other meetings – our airport needs a lot of updating before these carriers will come in. Mark Orme said at one meeting we will even lose the federal contracts if we don’t fix things like the water tower and the tarmac. They’re scrambling to comply before they lose the federal money.

      what hasn’t come up in the conversation is the fueling station.

      A friend of mine who does business and flies out of Chico Airport says the new “jet planes” require a slightly longer runway. Got any idea what he’s talking about?

  2. Jim July 30, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    The Runway at Redding is 279 feet longer than ours. They also just completed a terminal expansion. We had jet service years ago, and smaller private jets currently use Chico. I’m not a pilot, so I really don’t understand the details.

    • Juanita Sumner July 31, 2015 at 4:04 am #

      Yes, Redding put about $900,000 into their runway in order to get commercial air. Meanwhile, as you heard from Frank Fields, we bottomed out our airport fund paying the salaries, benefits and pensions of meeting attendees.

  3. Publius August 1, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    I keep waiting for a special tax to fund high speed rail line to Chico. Perhaps they could go after it in conjunction with the auqa-jets (they could get to matches faster….)

    How about if we start the old trolley that ran through town as well? I wonder if we could get a study done to determine the viability of that…

    • Juanita Sumner August 1, 2015 at 5:33 am #

      Don’t laugh – CARD has already had meetings with Chico PD and members of city staff – they won’t give me the report, they won’t tell me who they met with.

      I need back-up P – would you please write a note to CARD and ask for the report from the last Intergovernmental Commitee meeting, see what kind of runaround they give you.

  4. bob August 1, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    Hey Juanita,

    How awesome is this? Maybe if we are just like Redding and extend the runway, Hillary will come visit and lecture us on global warming…er…sorry…climate change.

    “Hillary Gives Climate Speech, Boards Private Jet That Burns 347 Gallons Per Hour”

    http://www.thedailysheeple.com/hillary-gives-climate-speech-boards-private-jet-that-burns-347-gallons-per-hour_072015

    While we little people in Colliefornia (as the Ahnode calls it) are told we will pay exorbidant prices for energy (for example AB 32 and other taxes and mandates…just wait until they all kick in) and can’t even have plastic grocery bags in order to save the environment, Hillary is traveling around the country in private gas guzzling jets and limos lecturing us peasants on global warming…er…climate change. Pretty cool…er hot, huh?

    I love it! And I would bet my last dollar that Dogtree and the Snooze and Review will endorse Hillary and I love that, too. You know why? Because hypocrisy gives me a tingling feeling.

    I wonder if Dogtree and the Snooze will ever recognize the truth, that DemocRat or RepublowCon, they are just different wings of the same evil bird of prey…or gas guzzling private jet.

    • Juanita Sumner August 1, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

      I was so excited when I heard Hilary Clinton was running because local comedienne Liz Merry will be doing her “Hilary Dice Clinton” character for the next year or so. I caught her at Duffy’s a month or so ago and she hasn’t lost it.

      Yes, hypocrisy gives me the jitters, it makes me want to start looking for the fire exit.

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