Friday, October 27, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Cronyism and corruption pervasive at Taunton Municipal Airport (KTAN)

By Melinda Paine-Dupont

Is dysfunctional government the new norm? Taunton is about to elect its City Council. Is it time for change? Career politicians and the status quo just won’t do.

This cautionary tale is just a sampling of what has been the frustrating hamster wheel of government in Taunton.

You might have little interest in Taunton Airport, how the mayor, City Council and Airport Commission run things. Maybe this is just one of many departments within city government which is mismanaged and corrupted by favoritism, cronyism.

Despite nearly a decade of warnings, meetings and appeals to Mayor Tom Hoye (and his predecessor), he has repeatedly appointed members of the Airport Commission who exhibit behavior detrimental to the growth and prosperity of the airport, obstructionism, cronyism and fraud.

During years of assurances that the commission was diligently working to bring self-service fueling to the airport, affordable proposals have been ignored. Commissioner Fred Terra pushed to keep the existing supplier while reports, records and details of fuel purchases and sales have been vague at best.

The Taunton Pilots Association has worked in good faith with the mayor’s office and City Council to create a balanced Airport Commission. We have put forth good candidates. Some have left out of sheer frustration. Without a majority vote the handpicked cronies have dominated the board and stifled progress. The TPA represents more than 90 percent of the flying population of the airport yet continues to be vilified as “them.” If you are not listening to the needs of the airport users, you do not understand your mission.

Years of complaints against ground services manager Ted Porada — from inappropriate comments to women, to spreading false information and defamatory comments about businesses and pilots on the field — have gone unanswered. Many choose to fly to other airports to purchase fuel to avoid speaking with Porada. The only answer: “No findings of any problems,” by Dan Raposa, airport manager, and commission.

Porada has been observed traversing the aircraft operating area in an unsafe manner. Fred Terra recently referred to these complaints as an “effort by certain people on the airport to harass the airport management.” When Commissioner Bill Mangenello suggested that they form a safety committee to review these and similar complaints, the commission voted “No.”

Video of the event clearly shows unacceptable vehicle operation. A very descriptive recounting of the event by eyewitness Norm Lamaire clearly suggests a frightful attempt to harass the operator of an aircraft.

Unauthorized flight training on the field has been denied by Raposa for years, insisting that no evidence has been found. Recently a city employee expressed concern to an airport commissioner when, after taking flight lessons from Ken Gibson for several months, his son was unable to retrieve his logbook. This not only violates the airport’s standard operating procedures, but is a safety issue. It was also confirmed that Commissioner Bob Adams introduced him to Gibson and the student was escorted to Raposa’s office to obtain an airport security badge. Maybe another reason why certain members of the Airport Commission have repeatedly made it difficult for flight schools to operate at the airport, even turning away qualified candidates.

Corruption generally starts at the top. Whether it’s incompetence or collusion, this should not be allowed to continue. What other areas of Taunton government suffer from this stench? It’s time for change.

Melinda Paine-Dupont

President, Taunton Pilots Association

Taunton Airport business owner

Original article can be found here ➤

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