Lakeshore News Tonight

Airport Board Suspends Director Decision After Deadlock

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September 23, 2013 — An attempt to name the next leader of Chicago’s third airport left a divided board and some unfinished business.

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority held a special meeting last Friday to address the 2014 budget.

Following the financial business, board member Alesia Pritchett began discussing the need to appoint an Interim Airport Director to ensure that there was leadership at the airport.  Pritchett then moved to appoint City of Gary Chief of Staff B.R. Lane.

Airport Authority chairman and Governor Mike Pence appointee Tom Collins stated the matter could not be addressed since it was not on the Authority’s agenda.  The motion failed with a 3-3 vote, with board members against the matter stating such an important decision should be on the agenda and conducted appropriately.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson responded to the failed Interim Airport Director vote stating she supports B.R. Lane because she has experience working on several recent airport initiatives such as the runway expansion.

“It’s not just the expansion of the runway, but it’s the expansion of the runway at a site where you have a super fund site, a contaminated area, where you have three class one railways and where you have mandates from the federal government, both the FAA and EPA.  It is also an area that has been determined all the way around, both in and out of the City of Gary, to have tremendous economic potential for the area.  So, there is a lot of anxiety around seeing that area fulfill the potential we all know that it has,” said Freeman-Wilson.

The mayor added that in Lane’s role as Chief of Staff, she has worked with state and federal officials regulating the airport as well as with the ongoing Public-Private Partnership effort involving the airport.  She said she believes the vote was due to miscommunication and not Lane’s qualifications for the position.

“There wasn’t really a printed agenda distributed, which is typically the case.  That’s what you saw.  I don’t think it was any effort of any board members to do one thing versus another.  It was simply them not working together for a long time.  So, them not knowing really what each other’s plans were,” said Freeman-Wilson.

The airport authority rescheduled its public meeting for next Monday, Sept. 30.  Interim Airport Director Steve Landry resigned last month citing personal reasons.


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