Crash of Flight 5191

Mayor seeks airport board change

Mayor Teresa Isaac attempted to change the make-up of the Blue Grass Airport Board in the aftermath of the crash of Comair Flight 5191.

In the week after the Aug. 27 crash, Willy Fogle, one of Isaac’s aides, asked Urban County Councilman Dick DeCamp to resign his seat, DeCamp said this week.

At-large Councilman David Stevens said in an interview that Isaac also personally notified him that there might be a problem with his seat on the 10-member airport board.

Stevens said he thinks Isaac was trying to get herself a seat on the airport board to be more involved in the crash investigation. “I think she just wanted to make sure things run, according to her, the way they ought to,” Stevens said. Both he and DeCamp remain on the board.

Isaac did not respond to questions posed to her through her press secretary yesterday, although an aide to the mayor said she wasn’t trying to get a board seat for herself.

The moves have raised questions about whether Isaac wants Michael Gobb to remain as executive director of the airport. But in two separate interviews with the Herald-Leader in the last month, Isaac has said Gobb is doing a good job.

Last month, Isaac said that citizens have asked her to fire Gobb, “but I have told them, ‘No, I would not fire him. I think he’s doing a good job.’” Last week, Isaac reiterated that she supports Gobb as executive director, “if the board is satisfied with his performance.”

Gobb was especially visible in the aftermath of the crash, which occurred a week after a major repaving of the airport’s main runway. The Comair plane mistakenly used the airport’s shorter general aviation runway before crashing, killing 49 people. Comair, which has been sued by families of several of the victims, has since sued the airport.

“I’ve not had any direct conversations with the mayor about her pleasure or displeasure with my performance on the job,” Gobb said in an interview yesterday.

Gobb added that the airport “does not question the mayor’s authority to appoint board members. We do not comment on private discussions the mayor may have had with individual members of the board.”

Fogle, the mayor’s aide, said Isaac wasn’t trying to get herself a seat on the board. In DeCamp’s case, Isaac was trying to correct a problem with a provision in state law that says two of the board’s 10 members must live within 3 miles of the airport, Fogle said.

“We felt it would be easier to ask a council member to see if they would consider stepping down so we could appoint someone within the 3-mile radius,” Fogle said.

Currently, the only board member who lives within 3 miles of the airport is board chairman Bernard Lovely.

Isaac had thought that two members of the board lived within 3 miles of the airport, Fogle said. The error was made because it was mistakenly thought that board member James Boyd lived within the radius because his business address is on Alexandria Drive, Fogle said.

Robert Mudd, who left the board in December 2004, formerly was the second board member who lived within 3 miles of the airport. Since Mudd left the board, Isaac has appointed Robert Dawson, John Davis, J. Robert Owens and P.G. Peeples to the board. None of them lives within 3 miles of the airport.

Lovely said the city plans to correct the error by appointing someone within the 3-mile radius after DeCamp leaves the board. DeCamp’s current term ends in December. Airport board members are unpaid volunteers.

Fogle said he asked DeCamp whether he would consider resigning his seat. DeCamp said he took the request as a call for his resignation.

“I said that I would not resign because the airport was going through a terrible, tragic situation and that it would certainly reflect on my character if I resigned from the airport board at that particular time,” DeCamp said.

DeCamp was initially appointed to the airport board as a mayoral designee eight years ago by Isaac’s predecessor, former Mayor Pam Miller. The seat that DeCamp holds can be filled only by “the mayor of the Urban-County Government or an officer of the Urban-County Government designated by the mayor,” according to state statute.

The concern over Stevens’ board appointment involved whether it was legal for him to be both a member of the board and a member of the council, which confirms board appointments. However, the appointment is legal because Isaac, not the council, appoints people to the airport board, said Bruce Edwards, the mayor’s spokesman.

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