[Archive Home][Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
"Massachusetts Airport Manager Abruptly Resigns; Criticizes County For Role in Lawsuit"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2005 04:43:46 -0500
Friday, April 22, 2005
Airport Manager Abruptly Resigns; Criticizes County For Role in Lawsuit
By CHRIS BURRELL
The Vineyard (MA) Gazette
William J. Weibrecht, the manager of the Martha's Vineyard Airport for the
last five years, stunned members of the Dukes County commission and airport
commission this week when he announced his intention to quit the job,
effective May 20.
In his letter of resignation, hand-delivered to commissioners at their
regular meeting Wednesday night, Mr. Weibrecht pointedly cited his ongoing
legal dispute with the county commission over salary.
"The county's decision not to abide by its commitments undermined the
employment agreements which the airport commission and I negotiated in good
faith," he wrote in the letter dated April 20.
Mr. Weibrecht told the Gazette yesterday he had already accepted another job
in the private sector with an aircraft services company based in New England
and Florida. He declined to specify the name of the firm.
"I've appreciated everybody's support," he said. "The airport is a huge
asset to the Island."
On Wednesday night county commissioners voted to appoint assistant airport
manager Sean Flynn acting manager until a permanent replacement is hired.
Mr. Flynn is also a litigant in the complicated lawsuit that pits the
airport commission against the county commission.
A little more than two years ago, Mr. Weibrecht and Mr. Flynn filed a court
complaint after county commissioners refused to pay them the salaries they
had negotiated with the airport commission. Instead, the county insisted on
paying the managers lower salaries according to a wage scale governing
Airport commissioners are appointed by members of the Dukes County
The case went to trial in March and now awaits a decision by a superior
Despite the legal friction, Mr. Weibrecht has been widely praised for
improving both the financial condition and the physical infrastructure of
the county-owned airport.
"He's been an excellent administrator. It was a total shock at the meeting,"
said William Mill, of Vineyard Haven, who is in the middle of a second term
on the airport commission and one of the backers of the higher salary deal
for Mr. Weibrecht.
County manager E. Winn Davis was equally taken aback.
"I was very surprised," Mr. Davis said yesterday morning following the
meeting. "I think he has been an effective manager and as I said to him last
evening, he will be missed."
But Mr. Davis also stuck to his official position on the question of who has
authority to establish salary scales for airport employees.
"I regret that he would make this an issue of his moving on. I think people
should move on for good jobs and more valuable jobs and not out of
frustration, but I would disagree with his contention that the county didn't
live up to its commitments. The county never agreed to make the airport more
autonomous - all they agreed to do was never interfere with the airport
operation and they haven't. I think the disagreement lies not with the
county but with the former airport commission and its hopes and dreams," Mr.
John Alley, who is chairman of the county commission, agreed.
"Bill has done an incredible job managing the airport and I am pleased with
the growth he has achieved and how he seemed to grow into the job," Mr.
Alley said, adding: "While I do not agree with parts of his resignation
letter, I wish him and his family all the best in his new position."
Mr. Weibrecht's letter gave a clear indication that he will not abandon his
stake in the lawsuit.
"I will continue to prosecute my claims against the airport commission and
county," he wrote. "Unfortunately, the primary victims of this process will
be the good residents of Dukes County, who will have to foot the bill, not
only for the county's substantial legal fees, but also for my own in
addition to the award of damages."
At the heart of the lawsuit lies a simple salary dispute: Mr. Weibrecht and
Mr. Flynn want the annual salaries they say they negotiated in good faith
with the airport commissioners. According to the agreements, Mr. Weibrecht
would be paid about $86,000 and Mr. Flynn about $67,000 a year. Instead, the
county is paying them according to its wage scale, with Mr. Weibrecht
receiving $74,000 and Mr. Flynn $60,000.
The airport commission wants the flexibility, which it says exists in its
charge to manage the airport, to offer salaries that will attract and retain
County commissioners consider the airport managers county employees who
receive the same health and retirement benefits as other county employees.
They do not want the airport commissioners, whom they appoint, to have the
ultimate say over how the managers are paid.
Mr. Mill said yesterday that this turf war between the two boards definitely
soured the relationship with Mr. Weibrecht.
"He's been given a very hard time by the county," said Mr. Mill, who added
that it's now up to a judge to decide the issue of authority.
"It will make a big difference on whether we can offer salaries commensurate
with the job," he said.
Mr. Davis said he does not think the lawsuit will be a deterrent in
attracting candidates for the airport manager position.
"We're not terribly worried about that," he said.
He said he expects Mr. Flynn will stay on as acting manager through the
summer. Mr. Davis said he too may decide to apply for the job.
"Sean is eligible to apply for the position, but if the position is being
offered as a county employee, he has to keep that in mind. The best thing we
can do for the airport, the county and the applicant is be consistent and
come together and not play games with people - as the former airport
commission did," Mr. Davis said.
The Vineyard airport employs 12 people on a full-time, year-round basis and
hires another eight to ten employees in the summer months.
Post your opinion on this story in the CAA General Aviation Forum
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
If you have any queries regarding this issue, please Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org