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"Editorial: San Bernardino Airport Authority must take action"
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Airport authority must take action
The San Bernardino (CA) Sun
San Bernardino International Airport officials are making much of factual
errors they say the Grand Jury included in a report that has raised
questions about management of the important regional asset.
Since the report's release earlier this month, officials for the San
Bernardino International Airport Authority - a joint powers authority
composed of the county of San Bernardino and the cities of San Bernardino,
Colton, Loma Linda and Highland - have decried the Grand Jury's findings and
the effect they could have on development of the former Norton Air Force
In a meeting last week with our editorial board, authority board member and
county Supervisors Chairwoman Josie Gonzales was blunt: "We will wear this
like an ugly wet suit."
She was referring to the report's most damaging findings, which could cling
to the airport as it continues courting a commercial airline for passenger
service at SBIA.
According to the Grand Jury's findings, the authority has been negligent in
managing its finances, construction projects and its relationship with a
developer who has served time in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud.
Authority officials, however, say those conclusions were in some cases drawn
without all the facts. The authority defends its management and development
team, and is working on a point-by-point rebuttal to the Grand Jury's
But the authority's response, due by Aug. 30, must go beyond defending those
in charge of the airport and lay out a plan to address any and all
deficiencies in its operations. Factual errors by the Grand Jury aside, it
is the authority's responsibility to ensure the airport's top-notch
management. Without that, the former air base is unlikely to ever achieve
its full potential as an economic engine in San Bernardino and beyond.
San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, also a member of the authority's board, has
said the authority could stand to improve some of its practices, such as how
it selects firms to audit its operations. And Gonzales noted that a thorough
examination of the authority's policies is necessary to ensure they are not
There's plenty of firepower on the SBIA board, so if something needs fixing
they should be able to do it - and fast.
Meanwhile, we are encouraged that authority board members have pledged to
examine publicly their practices and policies - whatever other consequences
the Grand Jury's report might have on the airport and its future, increased
transparency is one we embrace.
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