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"Auburn airport manager ousted"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Auburn airport manager ousted 
City not seeing level of progress it wanted, city manager says 
By Bridget Jones
The Auburn (CA) Journal

Former Auburn Municipal Airport manager Ivan Karnezis said his understanding
of why his contract was cancelled is different than what the city of Auburn
is saying. 

Auburn City Manager Bob Richardson said the city was not seeing what it
would have liked to in all areas of the airport. 

"He was a contract employee and the contract was cancelled," Richardson
said. "We weren't seeing the level of progress that we wanted to see in all
levels of airport operations. He did an excellent job in certain areas and
other areas we needed him to move forward as well."

Richardson said Karnezis' contract began in June 2010 and from that time
until September, when his contract was cancelled, the city paid him $54,104,
including $50 a month cell phone reimbursements and reimbursements for
things that were purchased for the airport. 

Karnezis didn't receive any benefits on top of his billings and is not
receiving a severance package from the city, Richardson said. 

Richardson said the city's Public Works director is working with the airport
in the interim between managers. 

"Bernie Schroeder, Public Works director, has been charged with moving all
capital efforts forward with the airport, and once we have regained
compliance with the FAA and Cal Trans Aeronautics Division and have
completed all anticipated capital projects, we will begin recruitment for a
new manager," Richardson said. 

Richardson said the future manager would still be a contracted position and
he doesn't anticipate any changes in payment. 

Richardson said Karnezis' main duties were dealing with the day-to-day
operations of the airport, user services and maintaining the capital program
of the airport. 

Capital projects could include things like repaving, new lighting and new

Richardson said the city has received a full range of reactions from people
at the airport in regard to Karnezis' contract being cancelled, including
people having the understanding certain areas of the airport were falling
behind to others having the understanding it was doing well. 

Karnezis said he was not given the same reason when he was told his contract
was being cancelled. 

"I was not told that when I was let go," he said. "I was told that I was
difficult to get along with." 

Karnezis said his concerns about construction at the airport led to the

"The sequence of events that led up to it was that work started occurring on
the airport without my notification that could possibly have interfered with
flight operations," he said. "It was construction work, and when I called to
meet with the city manager about it, I was terminated." 

Karnezis said several of the duties that would have been his at the airport,
such as administrative control, maintenance, capital development and
coordination with sub-contractors were handled by departments in City Hall,
and he did the best with the tools he had. 

"I actually had little or no authority out there," he said. 

Karnezis said he felt good about his time at the airport. 

"I felt like I was really responsible to all of the people on the airport,
and that I had made some great improvements on their behalf," he said.
"However, some of those might have been contrary to some of the goals of the

Tom Brady, who has a hangar at the airport and flies with the Experimental
Aircraft Association Young Eagles Program, said he thought Karnezis was
doing fine at the airport. 

"Ivan was doing one hell of a good job," Brady said. "The airport had not
looked this good in the 22 years that I have been around here."

Brady said he is not happy with the city's decision and doesn't think it
will be able to find someone with Karnezis' credentials. 

"Are we disappointed around the airport . yes we are," he said. "I do not
believe they will be able to replace him with anybody as qualified as he

Brady said those at the airport were "absolutely in the blind" to what was
going on between the city and Karnezis. 

Tom Dwelle, who owns Nella Oil at the airport, said the decision was
confusing for everyone at the airport, but he didn't want to speculate about
what happened. 

"I honestly don't know, that's not my call," Dwelle said. "I have a business
on the airport and we are very grateful for that. We have a number of
airplanes there, and things are running smoothly. And Bob Richardson is our
city manager, and the buck stops there. And if there is one thing I know
about being in business is the guy who signs the checks gets to make that

Dwelle said Karnezis is a "good guy" and still feels he will be very
involved with the airport. 

Councilwoman Bridget Powers said the cancellation of Karnezis' contract is
not having an impact on any of the goals of the Airport Business Park

The association has helped get broadband at the airport, worked on setting
up monument signs at both entrances to the airport and has improved
government relations between the city and Placer County.

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