by Michael Lowrey
There absolutely is more going on with Sen. Bob Rucho and his push to have Charlotte Douglas International Airport taken out from under the city and put under the control of a newly established regional authority than he’s letting on. The only question is the what and why behind Rucho’s push, what’s the hidden agenda here. Thinking out loud…
It could just be all partisan I suppose. With Democrats running Charlotte city government for the foreseeable future, the move could simply be about putting the airport under a board appointed mainly by Republicans. Can’t completely discount this possibility but I don’t really think it’s the answer. Part of the answer maybe but more likely a happy byproduct from a Republican perspective.
Rucho wants the airport out from under the city now — and I think the now part is pretty clear — because of the impact the city could have on something happening at the airport soon. Jerry Orr pretty much has been a one-man band when it comes to running the airport for years now and whatever he says when it comes to aviation is taken as gospel by the city’s business community. Recently though, he been getting some push back from the city about taxi cabs, some dodgy accounting at the airport, and, most importantly, who provides police protection at the airport and how much is required. (The airport had its own police until the incident Delvont Tisdale stowaway incident prompted the CMPD to takeover and assign more officers to the facility — at airport expense.) So presumably, this all goes back to Orr, somehow. So maybe:
• Orr just turned 72 and could be planning on retiring soon, and Rucho wants to make sure that the city doesn’t pick his successor. Or members of the city’s business elite don’t want the city picking Orr’s replacement, with Rucho just carrying water for them.
• Rucho asserts that the airport needs a better board to provide direction. But we know that pols say one thing and mean another. Another possibility is that Rucho and/or elements of the business community is scared by the city’s increased push back on airport operations, and want to create a regional board exactly so that Jerry Orr can continue in charge without any city interference.
• Or maybe it’s something else entirely.