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In My Opinion


Somewhere, great minds are working on our airport mess

By Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

Let’s imagine the scene in the Washington headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Underling: Boss, there’s a problem.

Boss: What?

Underling: See, the N.C. legislature came in and snatched Charlotte’s airport, but Charlotte wouldn’t let go, then the state said, “Yes you will,” and the city said, “No we won’t,” and the state said, “Too bad, ours now,” and the city said, “What makes you think so?” and the state said, “Because we said so!”

Boss: You understand that I have four kids under the age of 10? I get enough of this at home.

Underling: Then the state set up a commission to run the airport and kept the airport director, but the city got a judge interested in it and held everything up, and now the judge says it’s not up to the state or the city about whose airport it is.

Boss: Who’s it up to?

Underling: It’s up to you.

Boss: Egad. You know I hate to make decisions. That’s why I got into government work in the first place.

Underling: It gets worse. Remember Anthony Foxx, the new secretary of transportation, your new boss? Because he’s from Charlotte, and because they stole it out from under his nose, he’s vowed not to get involved in this until a year passes. Conflict-of-interest thing.

Boss: Why did the state try to take the airport from the city in the first place?

Underling: Fear of meddling, in part, like if the city created a bunch of political patronage positions for the airport.

Boss: Makes perfect sense. So who appointed the commissioners?

Underling: Gaston County, Iredell County, Cabarrus County, Lincoln County, Union County, Charlotte City Council, the new Charlotte mayor and Mecklenburg County.

Boss: So when these commissioners meet, what do they talk about?

Underling: How they haven’t got any money to pay their lawyers.

Boss: This is serious, indeed. Something must be done. How long does Secretary Foxx intend to recuse himself from the controversy?

Underling: One year. A long time.

Boss: Oh, little lamb. This is why I’m a boss and you’re an underling. We shall act immediately. Send forth the word that we will appoint a commission to at once to study this complex dilemma. See to it they have money for lawyers.

Underling: Brilliant, boss. When will their recommendation be due?

Boss: Use your head, son. In one year, of course.

Washburn: 704-358-5007
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