Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Collier commissioners don’t renew contract for Airport Director Chris Curry


The Collier County Airport Authority’s top executive will soon be out of a job.

On Tuesday, county commissioners voted not to re-hire Chris Curry.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Curry said.

County commissioners took two contentious votes regarding his position on Tuesday.

First, they decided to hand his authority to County Manager Leo Ochs.

“He’s got a whole county to manage not just an airport. Now, he’s got three airports,” said County Commissioner Donna Fiala.

Second, in a three to two decision, commissioners voted not to renew Curry’s contract.

“I think that it’s setting them up for failure,” Curry said.

“If I were them, I would be embarrassed,” Fiala said.

Curry says his job performance speaks for itself. He called it a personal vendetta.

“I think the writing has been on the wall with three of the commissioners for some time,” Curry said.
One that Curry says may have started early on in his three-year contract back in fall of 2011.

Commissioner Georgia Hiller and then-candidate Tim Nance were seen driving with an airport tenant in a restricted area on the runway at the Immokalee Airport. It was a violation of airport security.

“I think some of that maybe some of the embarrassment that was associated with that incident has continued to play a role,” Curry said.

At the time, Hiller claimed she was checking out the tenant’s claim he was being mistreated by the airport authority.

Tuesday, Hiller claimed the commission’s decision came down to money.

“It makes sense. Operationally, it always makes sense to consolidate,” Hiller said. “We have duplication of staffing that’s really unnecessary.”

It is six days and counting before Curry packs up and moves out.

But he says he’s not moving on yet.

“I’ll certainly keep all options on the table as it deals with Collier County from a legal perspective,” Curry said.

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