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"San Bernardino airport officials respond to Grand Jury criticism"
Monday, August 22, 2011
San Bernardino airport officials respond to Grand Jury criticism
By Josh Dulaney
The San Bernardino (CA) Sun
SAN BERNARDINO -- Airport officials have submitted their formal response to
a blistering Grand Jury report that second-guessed some of their decisions
in the effort to turn the former Norton Air Force Base into a civilian
The San Bernardino International Airport Authority board's nearly 600-page
response -- essentially a compilation of its own findings -- contains
several capitulations to the Grand Jury's recommendations, as well as a
defense of its work at the former air base.
"While the SBIAA recognizes the tangible benefits and value of all of the
recommendations contained in the document, it is essential that the
foundational errors be addressed to ensure the integrity of this process,"
wrote Mayor Pat Morris, who also is president of the authority board, in a
letter to the Grand Jury that accompanied the response.
The airport authority board -- a joint-powers authority composed of San
Bernardino County and the cities of San Bernardino, Colton, Loma Linda and
Highland -- has spent weeks condemning the Grand Jury for how it went about
examining the board's financial practices, construction management and
A Grand Jury-commissioned audit by the San Francisco-based auditor Harvey M.
Rose Associates also raised questions about the airport's relationship with
Scot Spencer, a convicted felon who has served time in federal prison for
bankruptcy fraud and has been banned from the aviation industry.
At one point, airport officials said the civil Grand jury report, released
June 30, repeated several errors that are far from "anything resembling
Airport officials have argued that the auditors did not look at all the
information given to them by airport management.
The airport's formal response was submitted Thursday, nearly two weeks
before an Aug. 30 deadline.
Notable agreements with the Grand Jury's recommendations include:
Developing comprehensive policies and procedures, and refining efforts to
ensure in-depth documentation of business processes and transactions.
Rotating financial auditing firms every five years and seeking a reputable,
independent auditing firm to look at all expenses connected with the airport
terminal project and other projects.
Reviewing contracts for construction services and operations managed by
Spencer and making any changes necessary to protect the airport from future
The authority board said many of the recommendations already have been
addressed, and all will be undertaken within the 12 months suggested by the
Morris wrote that the recommendations already implemented "are now a part of
our annual evaluation matrix."
The airport board also put into place its own set of updated procedures,
including an annual performance review of executive management and staff.
In defending their efforts, officials have pointed to Boeing Co.'s test work
at the airfield as an example of the airport's viability.
They also cite a joint research project by Cal State San Bernardino and Cal
State Fullerton that shows the airport is expected to produce an estimated
$1.2billion in annual economic activity, including 9,355 jobs and
$500million in annual payroll.
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