by Michael Lowrey
The latest bizarre policy suggestion on the airport control front: There’s a bill in the state Senate now that would essentially empower the regional airport commission that the General Assembly created last year to run Charlotte Douglas International Airport though the airport would still be controlled, as in be nominally owned by, the city. Oh, and Charlotte elected officials still get to appoint a majority of the members of the 13-person airport authority board… What? This sounds like the perfect arrangement to keep Jerry Orr running the airport… except he isn’t running the airport anymore. Other than that, it’s just kind of a mess.
And bonus demerits for state legislators keeping the proposal a secret until the day it came up in a Senate committee. This is an issue that has raised significant concerns about possible hidden agendas; keeping a proposed new measure on who runs the airport secret until the day it first comes up for a vote does absolutely nothing to dispel those fears.
Worth noting: The other case about the state taking major assets was decided yesterday, at least at the trial court level. A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Asheville in the dispute over control of the local water system (don’t ask). As the Asheville Citizen-Times reports:
A judge on Monday struck down as unconstitutional the 2013 law that would transfer control of the city water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. found that the law violates a prohibition in the state constitution against “local” laws on certain subjects, “lacks a rational basis” and calls for an “unlawful taking.”
Even if the law passed the constitutional hurdles, the city would be owed compensation for the water system, Manning wrote, something the law does not provide for.
Yes, the issue will likely end up before the state Supreme Court. But if Manning’s ruling stands up, it would make it more difficult and certainly much more expensive for the General Assembly to transfer control of Charlotte Douglas away from the city.