Friday, March 29, 2013

Charlotte/Douglas International (KCLT), North Carolina: 'Talking points' emails reveal airport leader working against city


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Emails, that were supposed to be secret, show an airport leader going behind the city’s back. Those emails were obtained by the I-Team and are prompting city leaders to question who they can really trust. 

The tug-of-war over Charlotte-Douglas airport hit some unexpected turbulence this week when the state's deputy treasurer warned state lawmakers that uncertainty over the airport's debt could result in "potential prolonged litigation".

The I-Team has learned that the chair of the Charlotte-Douglas airport advisory committee, a man appointed by the city, is covertly working with those trying to take the airport away from Charlotte. Charlotte City Council Member Michael Barnes told the I-Team, “"We've learned that there are a lot of people, who we thought were working with us, who are working against us."

In a letter to State Senator Bob Rucho, sponsor of the bill to transfer Charlotte-Douglas to a regional authority, the deputy state treasurer urges lawmakers to "proceed cautiously". But before the treasurer’s report was finished, Rucho pushed the bill through the Senate.

The I-Team has obtained an email, sent by Shawn Dorsch, the chair of the Charlotte airport advisory committee, to members of the general assembly. They are listed as "talking points" for those trying to take the airport away from city control.  One of the talking points recommends lawmakers say the treasurer's report, "contains nothing new or that would prevent the creation of the authority."

Councilman Barnes told the I-Team, “It is very disappointing that the chair of the airport advisory board, a body that is appointed by the council, is engaged in essentially providing talking points to folks who are trying to take the airport away from Charlotte. In this case, you've got basically our airport director and the chair of the advisory board both working against the interests of the city."

The bill to transfer Charlotte-Douglas Airport to a regional authority is being debated in the North Carolina House.

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