Time to make changes to airport governance
There are serious problems with the management of Minden-Tahoe Airport. What’s needed to resolve this is a revised airport governance structure that will strengthen citizen oversight of airport operations.
Currently the airport is managed by a private firm under contract to the county. That contract is administered by the county manager, who reports to the county commission. The county manager and the county commission have little direct day-to-day interest in airport operations. Out of sight, out of mind. And of course, they have many other responsibilities related to county governance. The consequence is that the airport management firm has operated as it wishes, without meaningful oversight.
We do have an Airport Advisory Committee, but airport management has minimized the AAC’s involvement. As a result the AAC has been largely moribund over the last few years. A recent rebellion by airport users has resulted in some added attention to the AAC, but its mission and authority remain unclear. And as things stand now, there is no getting around its “advisory” status, leaving management free to ignore its concerns when push comes to shove.
The airport management contract is near the end of its term and, likely because of recent controversy, the current management firm has elected to take its ball and go home. It’s not seeking a new contract. The airport master plan, a key document controlling future development of the airport and the basis of much funding from the FAA, is also due for revision.
Currently, the county seems to be taking a business as usual approach to this, seeking a new management firm and giving a bit more attention to the AAC in the process. This could easily lead to a repeat of the current situation down the road, especially if AAC members get worn down trying to get the attention of airport and county management to persistent problems.
This all makes this an opportune time to address the real problem, lack of oversight. We need to strengthen the AAC by clarifying that its role is direct oversight of airport plans, management and operations; that airport management is to refer plans, policies and major operational decisions to the AAC for review and recommendation and that management is expected to follow those recommendations unless overridden on appeal by the County Commission.
In the process we need to assure that the membership of the AAC is properly constituted to represent all important stake holders, especially airport users and the community at large, both of which are directly affected by the airport.
The airport is a very important public asset. It’s operation of course directly affects its users. It also has the potential for significant effects on the larger community. It’s time for the community of users and neighbors who own this asset to take control of it by putting a panel of citizens in charge and making it clear that management reports to the community, not the other way around.
No thanks to airport manager
I read the interview of Bobbi Thompson on her departure from our airport, as I am sure many readers have done. I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
Bobbi Thompson and her company ABS have derived a good income from Douglas County by managing the Minden-Tahoe airport for the last 12 years.
It is reasonable to assume that Ms. Thompson has been satisfied with the arrangement, because the contract was renewed at somewhere around the mid-point of this tenure. The current contract with Douglas County is to provide management services through the end of 2023.
In anticipation of the need to examine other management proposals and consider a new contract with ABS and Bobbi Thompson, I understand our County Manager began the arduous process of preparing a Request for Proposal sometime last year. This way, there would be plenty of time to review competing proposals and make a well-informed decision about what entity will be running our airport in the future. Patrick Cates did not leave things to the last minute. Good for him.
In a surprise move, Bobbi Thompson and her company, ABS, have canceled their contract seven months early! Obviously they will not submit a renewal. This is her prerogative but has really left the County Manager and our Commissioners in the lurch. And as indicated by recent letters to the Record-Courier, at a time when active management is now most critical. Where our County began the process of preparing for a new contract with plenty of time, they are now left with a mere three months to fill the void to run this complex county asset.
In a professional display worthy of his position as County Manager Patrick Cates has publicly thanked Bobbi Thompson for her services. I have not heard nor seen any such a “Thank you” from Bobbi Thompson to the County and airport users for providing a solid, trusted income for more than a decade. But this does not surprise me. Gratitude does not seem to be among the attributes of ABS. We are fully five months past the dates of the 2022 air show and not one of the critical sponsors have been publicly thanked for their generous contributions, without which Ms. Thompson would not have had a successful event. As a matter of fact, the only mention I can find of sponsors is on the airport website, and not all of them are even found there.
I think county residents should be asking that if Ms Thompson has to leave, why couldn’t her company bring in another staffer to honorably complete their contract term to year end?
In a word, disgraceful. To quote Bobbi Thompson from the article, “We’re done.” As for me, the only people I will be thanking are the ones who are going to step up and manage an airport in disrepair.
Daylight saving isn’t natural
Precisely my view, Anita Kornoff. (R-C March 8, “The daylight saving time dilemma”). You explained it all so well in a nutshell; pure common sense.
The timing of the spring and autumn equinox was no accident. Changing of darkness to light, night into day and vice versa, was intended to be gradual - both daily and seasonally, for our own good.
Within six months we eventually got what we wanted — and needed: more and more evening light after work hours to enjoy outdoor activities all summer long…and welcomed setting sun and rest when the day was done during winter. Anticipation taught patience.
But now for the sake of instant gratification, we’ll all be slammed into darkness getting up and most hitting the hay to sleep before dark, reversing the role of nature. Year-round. It just ’taint natural. Granted, there are exceptions. Alaska. Odd work hours requiring quick adaptation. But the rest of us?
The ridiculously named “Sunshine Protection Act” may have been passed, but perhaps the verdict is still out. Perhaps those “diverse opinions” that still exist may come into play, speak up, and cause its sunset. Perhaps standard time may once again rule the day as its meaning implies: “a level of quality…accepted as normal…”