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Commissioners reviewing airport report

Artist rendering of the potential privatized Briscoe Field. Artwork provided by whyprivatizebriscoe.com.

Artist rendering of the potential privatized Briscoe Field. Artwork provided by whyprivatizebriscoe.com.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- An airport citizens review committee said no to commercial flights at the Gwinnett County Airport this week, giving a recommendation to commissioners that could soon end years of debate.

Commissioners Tuesday began reviewing the initial report, which came in a surprise vote Monday, angering some committee members who did not have a chance to read it before the vote. That lead to a split vote on the majority of the measures -- with six members voting in favor and five abstaining.

Commissioner Lynette Howard, who was serving as a liaison to the committee after a controversial abrupt decision late last year, said she was "disappointed" in Monday's unexpected ending to the discussions, which came in a meeting scheduled when she had to be in a government training session in Savannah.

"I would have liked to have a unanimous vote. I think they could have," she said, adding that some information she asked for was not included in the document voted on Monday, but it may be added to the final document.

During Monday's session, many committee members asked for time to consider the recommendations, which were submitted via email to some just prior to the vote.

"I truly did think we had one more week on this committee," said Woody Woodruff, a retired airline pilot, in reference to the May 8 deadline given by commissioners. "I would have liked to have read it."

But others said the research of the past few months showed commercial flights were not a viable option at the Lawrenceville general aviation field.

"I came into this with an open mind, that if it made sense to the county, it was a good thing," said committee chairman Tip Cape, who broke the tie on all but one issue. "This document expresses the research and the effort we put forward. I believe we did the best for the citizens of this county."

In addition to recommending commissioners decide against using a private partner, the committee voted to fund improvements to the general aviation functions to make it a "first-class" facility. Also, if commissioners do choose to move forward with privatization or commercialization, the board recommended a "full and exhaustive public review" of financial risks, financial burden to the public for infrastructure, environmental impact on the community as well as wetlands and streams and safety concerns.

Tony Powell, a Lawrenceville councilman who served on the board, said the conclusions were based on a public outcry, lack of control over the flights and other issues.

Another member, Mark Grams, said forcing a vote without time to deliberate was not fair.

"It seems like this was ramrodded through the process with a behind-the-scenes meeting," he said. It smacks of impropriety. I thought we were above that. I thought the county commissioners asked us to be above that."

Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said he did not like to hear that committee members were "just as guilty" of political tactics they complained of last year. But he said he had begun to review the report.

"I think we're coming close to a conclusion on" whether to move forward, he said, adding of the report, "it's got to be taken into consideration."

County officials have the final decision on the issue, as a proposal has been submitted from Propeller Airports.

Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash and Commissioner John Heard said they did not know when the decision would be made. Both have been against allowing scheduled passenger service at the airport and said they looked forward to reviewing the report.

"I'm happy to see things moving forward," Heard said.

A message left for Commissioner Shirley Lasseter, who has not attended commission meetings in months due to illness, was not returned Tuesday.

Brett Smith, managing director of Propeller Investments said the rush ended with an inaccurate report.

"If the committee wants its work and report to be taken seriously by the elected officials and the citizens of Gwinnett County, it should at least allow for serious deliberation and analysis by its members," he said. "When thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of sorely needed economic development activity are at stake, you'd think it would warrant giving their own committee members time to actually read the report, or consider the information we presented to them in December."

But the committee's verdict has meant a lot to concerned area residents, who have packed meetings for the past few months.

"We have been fighting for our lives out here," said Catherine Gilley. "We are taxpayers. We are homeowners."

Comments

rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

Once again Carrie Young is using her journalists platform to promote her position. So much for expecting the Journal to be objective.

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teelee 2 years, 3 months ago

Don't blame Camie, she gets her orders from the higher ups. The Post has done a horrible job of sharing both sides of this issue.

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CD 2 years, 3 months ago

@ Brett: Please list the "thousands" of jobs this will create along with position titles, salary range, etc. Put this to rest by doing just that.

You won't. You know as well as most that beyond a smattering of minimum wage jobs, this will do nothing but fill your pockets and those of a few developers.

Please just go away.

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

He's the famed "Propeller Feller"

But alas we fear the only jobs to be had with this boondoggle would be those hired to remove all the BS with shovels and help Propeller wander off with our cash ...

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

My dumb - thanks - I though CD was responding to an invisable post.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Great thought CD - anything less than that information should be a NO to anyone with a functional brain stem. OK, so that might exclude most of the BOC, the Propeller Fellers, Teelee, Falco, etc.

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teelee 2 years, 3 months ago

In a county that is number one in Georgia for home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, you still have to ask?

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Absolutely - the last thing we need is for taxpayers to sign another blank check, especially to a bankrupt developer like Propeller.

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NewsReader 2 years, 3 months ago

LOL, I wonder how many of those foreclosures and personal bankruptcies are your very own. I guess your one trick pony rides went out of business too!

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

This is just another soapbox for Camie Young. She claims she came into this with an open mind - aahahahhahahaha. Really Camie? Really?

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

Camie is well connected to the BOC and they use her as their voice.

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

Let's name it Beaudreau Field and post a big information board with all the expectations it does not fulfill.

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

Hey maybe we have to build it under a civil settlement so Charles won't ruin Gwinnett financially after he wins his lawsuit against Sherriff Conway.

Remember, that’s EXACTLY how we got the Beaudreau Trash Plan!! Republicans, it would be nice to find some REAL ones…

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Bannister is suing Butch and two of the deputies, not the county, and in any case, he will not win. No, there is no comparison with the trash plan.

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

It’s for their official conduct representing Gwinnett; you better believe the county general fund is in his sights…

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

The commented link was sarcasm, since we appear to settle a lot of issues in court…

FYI
In reality, governments in GA can legally do things under the guise of civil "settlements" that can’t be done under existing government regulations. The “trash cash grab” could NOT be executed as a normal contract under county procurement regulations existing at that time.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Not exactly. Regarding the trash deal, a bit of history. Several years before that Gwinnett passed a grafitti ordinance, to be enforced by Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful. I contacted the county legal department to advise that a private company could not perform law enforcement functions. Fast forward to the trash deal, GCB was tasked with enforcement of the required recycling portion of the new system. This was still illegal, and the judge nullified the contract.

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

Don't know why you all don't vote Beaudreau out of office next time. The BOC is looking for more money to spend. It doesn't need to do this. Just live within your means commissioners.

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

MissDaisey knows neither of the people she just disparaged, but she thinks she's still a good christian girl.

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blackhouse 2 years, 3 months ago

What does the commission have to hide by not allowing the proposal to be made public? Whether anyone is for or against the concept, it only makes sense to let us know what it is. I heard the county staff tell the airport citizens committee that even they couldn't see the proposal or economic studies it included. How can the committee make a recommendation either in support or in opposition to something they can't see? More smoke and mirrors.

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

You're beating a dead horse.

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teelee 2 years, 3 months ago

This committee had one mission, find reasons why Briscoe Field should not allow commercial flights.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Actually, it had several proponents on it - at least two were swayed by whatcha call the facts.

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

If you receive a contract or proposal from someone and you learn they haven't been honorable, forthcoming, transparent or credible, then anything they may have put into writing doesn't matter. If they have worked to obscure information and obstruct free access to critical data to hide their owm misrepresentatiioins then their proposal is from an unworthy source and not deserving any further consideration. Their ability to perform and fulfill their obligations is already very suspect and doubtful. If external issues also guarantee an unworkable situation under any contract arrangement, then further consideration isn't needed.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

I think the jobs that the Propeller Fellers have tantalized with might refer to the staff of bankruptcy lawyers they have kept in business. The supportive BOC members have a lot of gall to suggest that politics was involved, as certain of them have been desperately searching for experts that agree with their itchy voting fingers. Show us the proposal and we'll talk.........

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

The answer is simple really. The airport is not suited to commercial service and the activity wouldn't justify the negative impact no matter who tenders a proposal. There is no reason to consider anyones proposal.

.

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teelee 2 years, 3 months ago

Really? It already has an FAA tower, located next to a limited access highway, surrounded by industrial property including train tracks. It is 40 miles from the worlds busiest airport. But the location is no good and it won't work. Let me guess, you live in or near Lawrenceville????

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Yup - and that's way too close to that already existing, recently expanded airport for safety and efficiency of same. All that and a zero percent chance of success (according to that very same FAA), with no carriers interested, taxpayers on the hook, a facility that can only handle puddle jumpers, all secretly conceived by a bankrupt developer - what could go wrong?

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

There you go, thinking logically. Logic has nothing to do with politics, bankrupt Propeller Fellers or Teelee, among a host of others.

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166LZU 2 years, 3 months ago

It's interesting that Woodruff (& the other pro-expansionists) say that he/they needed more time to review the report when he was the one who seconded the motion to disband the committee on December 20th - with absolutely no notice to the anti-expansionists. The pro-expansionists carried that 12/20 CRC vote 5-4 to disband - costing the CRC at least 4 weeks of valuable time in January. That was before the FAA and industry experts inputs were even received. Howard was one of the 3 commissioners who voted to issue the RFP and then let the CRC idle for a month when the CRC "self-disbanded". The BoC should have rejected the December resolution to disband and told the CRC get back to work. As far as needing time to read the report - how much time do you need one or two pages that say keep Briscoe Field a GA airport? That is the central issue. The abstaining by the pro-expansionists was just a cop out/sour grapes...

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

sounds like the BOC is being mismanaged. Wonder why?

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GregRodgers 2 years, 3 months ago

"Mark Grams said: Forcing a vote without time to deliberate was not fair.

"It seems like this was ramrodded through the process with a behind-the-scenes meeting," he said. It smacks of impropriety. I thought we were above that. I thought the county commissioners asked us to be above that."

Really? Seriously..how much more information did you need Mr. Grams.

FAA report said no, IMG said No, and two separate consulting firms said no...its not a good idea to expand. These reports came to you over the last 8 months. What else did you need to know?

Impropriety....really? If the marjority already had enough votes against....would your minority of votes really matter....and whose to say that the rest of the votes would have been in favor?

I think this is all a big show anyway. Propellar was the only group to bid, major carriers have shown no interest in Briscoe, Propellar has money issues, all reports said no....why such a big crybaby act from members who abstained?

Look...the BOC should have not even gone down this road anyway. After all of the shiesty things that this group has done over the years...to have stressed the community out over this issue is a shame and a sham. The Citizens Group will not be the fall guy for this nonsense...it lies at the feet of Beaudreau, Lassiter and Howard.

Period.

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teelee 2 years, 3 months ago

Look at the motives behind "no".

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Facts and common sense, which you appear to be short of.

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NewsReader 2 years, 3 months ago

When? When we're not looking at the motives behind "yes"?

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Katrina 2 years, 3 months ago

At the meeting, Mark Grams also complained that they shouldn't have gotten two neutral consulting firms, but rather one that was pro and one that was con. Mr. Grams, we just wanted the facts.

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GregRodgers 2 years, 3 months ago

Wow...now that would have made alot of sense....Jeezzz!

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Katrina 2 years, 3 months ago

A number of things he said seemed completely off-the-wall to me! Who appointed him, anyway?

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teelee 2 years, 3 months ago

This report was nothing but a sham. Their objective from the beginning was to find reasons to stop commercial flights from coming to Briscoe Field. Why don't they privatize the airport and allow private investors and capitalism to take over. Then the people crying over tax money will have nothing to cry over. Millions of dollars of federal transportation funds would probably be available to help out. We are approximately 40 miles from the worlds busiest airport and Atlanta's traffic is rated near top of the list for worst commute time. If I had a choice, I would fly out of Briscoe Field. The market is here, the upgrades and terminals could be ready by the time modifications are complete on highway 316. This same sham of a committee would have said no to the Mall of Georgia, The Gwinnett Arena, and the Gwinnett Braves. But now that we have all of these attractions it only makes sense to support them with a small regional airport that allows limited commercial flights. In the evolution of Gwinnett County, this is the next step to take. Gwinnett County is still number one in the state of Georgia for home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. The commissioners have to take this into consideration. The airport is the right step to take to turn things around. If done properly we could have the best regional airport in the country that all Gwinnett residents could be proud of.

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Katrina 2 years, 3 months ago

It's interesting that in one sentence you want private investors and capitalism to take over, and in the very next sentence you're talking federal transportation funds.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Nice catch! That's why this one smells so much like a Propeller Feller (or merely a free range "special needs" individual) - their goal is to have a taxpayer funded private gold mine.

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Katrina 2 years, 3 months ago

Exactly, Cleanupguy. With Propeller, it's heads, they win, and tails, we (the taxpayers) lose!

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

Teelee, its clear by your opening statement you had no involvement with the committee or its findings.

Early on it was determined that Briscoe as a General Aviation operation is actually making a surplus in these economic times… There is no advantage to privatizing this operation because Gwinnett County is still on the hook with the FAA.

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GregRodgers 2 years, 3 months ago

Look behind the motives of "No". So you are saying that IMG and the consultants Kinton Aviation Consultants and Boyd Group International have all conspired and came up with their reasons for saying no because they have all conspired with Hartsfield. Really?

These are independent groups brought in by the BOC and the Citizens Group to get a better understanding of the issues, but you are saying they were hired to come to the conculsion of no? That's sounds absurd!

As for Tax money....who is complaining about tax money. We are complainging over the BOC forcing Ballparks & Trash Pickup as well as Spending when its not needed in a down ecomomy. Stop Spending when you do not have the money. Is the BOC Republican or Democrat?

As for attractions without a means to get there.....seems that when the economy was good that these places flourished and they will again when the economy comes back. Again...your statement is nonsense.

We lead in forclosures because the BOC allowed uncontrolled building during a fake Mortgage lending fiasco. If they have something to look at its why they didn't know or undestand what was going on at that time and figure out a way to not have it happen again.

Creating a new problem (the airport) based on information that says its probably no good only creates more problems. (Us bailing it out when it fails due to reports saying it probably will fail.

Sorry.....Teelee (a Propellar and Fly Gwinnett Forward worker) you make no sense.

Also...how is it you are able to get your posts to show up within a few minutes, but ours take up to an hour to show? Hmmmmm? Are u an insider at the Post?

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Don 2 years, 3 months ago

Teelee- People that have plans to fly in and go shopping are not going to the Mall of Georgia, more like Lenox and Phipps if not new York. Minor league baseball teams do not fly in they ride busses. Most of the atractions at the Arena have busses as well and a few of the bigger acts onlt the headliner flies in, so is that maybe 20 flights per year!

Why would I fly out of Briscoe onlt to have to change planes in a feeder city when I can travel thirty minutes to Hartsfield and go direct? The chances of that is about like winning the Mega millions lotto!

We are have seen now that the BOC went against reccomendations for the Gwinnett Braves Stadium has worked out finnacially for us, it is in the RED! So why should they listen to anyone else they make great decisons on their own?

If I am correct I do not think there has been one successfull privatization of an airport in this country. Once we do this and Propeller goes bankrupt we are responsible to maintain it.

The logic just does not work in this case as the reports back it up.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Teelee - what planet are you from? Can you comprehend "this has never worked anywhere"? Yeah, boy - today the Gwinnett Mall and the Stadium (taxpayers are now footing the bill for the private market bonds for that one, same deal guaranteed here) are less than shining examples. Ummmm - 316 was not a private investment, nor were millions in public funds spent for the other examples you noted. Sorry, presuming that only an idiot or a Propeller Feller would spew such ridiculous bile, which are you?

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

time to change our drawers and vote this BOC out, including Nash. You never trust a politician that has something named after them.

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kevin 2 years, 3 months ago

Commissioner Lynette Howard was FOR the commercialization. Do not know if she would now change her mind due to pressure. Privatization is NOT the issue here. It is the expansion to commercial flights (jets) all day long. Doesn't anybody know what is going on here? No wonder a person can't vote on something correctly. Our BOC are simply tired of having to deal with and dump money into this field. They do not want responsibility for funding this place any longer. The BOC is thinking that maybe a private company would get stuck paying for it instead. However, only ONE private company seems to be interested.(maybe this was fixed for money like this). This ONE private company sees no big profit unless they turn it into a commercial airport. Give me a break. This little airport can't handle this kind of expansion without massive money being dumped into it. Those living within a 20 mile radius will also be paying dearly for this expansion because of the noise it will create. Houses within the area already vibrating just form helicopters flying overhead. What do you all think will be happening with jets? This project would kill Gwinnett's quality of life. For those that want this "expansion," just go move to a city that has one already. Don't ruin Gwinnett.

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 3 months ago

So, let's say the commision does not privatize this time around...

Start getting your house in order to sell. Why? Because it is going to happen and we don't need all the crying going on the next time around.

As for the guy on the other article talking about Dacula. In 1979 there was nothing in Dacula. So I guess you are real ticked off about all the growth there recently! Publix, Kroger, Chick-fil-a, burger king, McDonald's.... I could go on and on.... What is the reality? The reality is life in Gwinnett changes. If you don't change with it, you end up screaming about 1979 and how "it used to be." Get your stuff together man, its time to MOVE again!

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Katrina 2 years, 3 months ago

People like positive change, but privatizing/commercializing this airport would not be positive change.

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CD 2 years, 3 months ago

What in the world does a bankrupt, 2nd-tier carrier, with a sub-par safety record, subbing to the majors such as Pinnacle/Colgan, which is what would move into Briscoe if anything, have to do with Publix, Kroger, etc? NOTHING. Again, would someone please list the "thousands" of jobs with titles and salary that this fiasco would create? Real simple request--just list the jobs. No rhetoric required, but just list the facts.

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R 2 years, 3 months ago

But, but, but those details are contained in the super duper “double secret probation” response RFP!!!

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

For the thousandth time, given that this has succeeded precisely ZERO times in history anywhere else, ZERO air carriers want to participate, all but a loser bankrupt company have run away from the distant second choice Briscoe, and given the GUARANTEE (from the FAA) that taxpayers WILL be on the hook for it when it fails (as have several of the other similar failed projects), most likely solid rational business decisions will be made and this will die and will remain deceased. Anything else would be just plain idiotic, plane (sic) and simple. Like Teelee, either you're a Propeller Person or have some serious personal density issues.

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 3 months ago

"Past performance is not indicative of future results". You know... kind like those stocks you own. LOL

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Like the Microsoft and Home Depot IPO's that I bought into? How about being doomed to repeat the history that one ignores (Propeller bankruptcy and proven incompetence wise)?

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jljustis 2 years, 3 months ago

No airlines would take the routes. Too few destinations; not enough connections too few passengers; poorly located; inconvenient. The number of jobs cited is a pure fraud. Only jobs at the airport, and they would be lost within the first year with the failure of commercial travel. The only profit would be Propeller Inc. at the expense of the taxpayers. I hope the commissioners are not this gullible. Unfortunately, Shirley is and cannot be depended upon to make the right decision.

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

I wonder if some of these pro-commercialization folks planned to use the airport for some "South-o-the-Border" import business, (if you know what I mean).

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rco1847 2 years, 3 months ago

Same old shoe in a different box using OPM, (other peoples money).

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kayak 2 years, 3 months ago

Great (unbiased) article in the (choke, choke hate-to-admit-I-occasionally-glance-at-it fish wrapper The New York Times) today (5/3) entitled "When Flying 720 Miles Takes 12 Hours" which details the death of commuter jet service. Some of the points it made included:

"The regional business was profitable because airlines used them extensively in exchange for a fixed fee per flight. But as the big carriers looked to cut costs, they renegotiated their deals with their regional partners. With little control over their own schedules and routes, and with fuel prices rising, these smaller carriers have struggled. Many routes, particularly those on 50-seat planes, are no longer economical.

“The regional model,” said Helane Becker, an airline analyst at Dahlman & Rose, “is broken.”

That about sums it, unless the writer of the NYT article has it out for the Propeller Fellers and figured he write the article to add fuel to the local fire.....

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Katrina 2 years, 3 months ago

Read this article, and it was right in line with what the two consultants said in their reports to the citizens' committee. Well worth reading!

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