Thursday, December 21, 2017

Group seeks funds for consultant to help with Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (KBTR) director search

Metro councilwoman Barbara Freiberg, District 12, speaks on Item 92 concerning an emergency appointment of the members of the Aviation Director Search Committee during a meeting of the metro council,  November 8, 2017, at City Hall in Baton Rouge, La.

The group searching for the next Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport director is asking for money to hire a private consultant to help find and evaluate applicants for the job.

The Baton Rouge aviation director search committee voted Thursday to ask the Metro Council to appropriate $40,000 from the airport's budget to pay a search firm. Committee members said they will spend the next few weeks reviewing possible vendors before voting on which consultant to use.

They also agreed that three areas they would like the next aviation director to focus on are expanding the number of carriers and routes at the airport; continuing to lease airport property for an extra cash flow; and finding and securing state and federal grants.

Lining up a majority of council members to agree to appropriate $40,000 on a search firm might prove difficult, given the frustrations that arose at the Metro Council about conducting a national search for the airport director.

Some Metro Council members wanted to appoint Interim Aviation Director Ralph Hennessy to the permanent job without any search.

Although the committee should recommend three finalists to become the aviation director, the council has decision-making power over who gets the job.

Before the committee began its meeting on Thursday, Metro Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg  questioned Marston Fowler from the Parish Attorney's office about the public records aspects of their aviation director search.

Freiberg asked if people submit resumes for the job, but do not submit a full-fledged application, whether their names would still fall under public records laws. She said the airport was likely to miss out on good applicants for the job if people were concerned about their names becoming public.

Fowler referenced a high-profile lawsuit that started in 2013 when The Advocate and The Times-Picayune sued LSU for the names of the applicants who applied for the LSU president position. At the time, LSU only released the name of its "sole finalist," F. King Alexander, who is the current university president and chancellor. LSU did not respond to various public records requests regarding the people university leaders vetted and interviewed during the search.

A state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal panel ruled in 2015 that LSU was required to release the names of the four finalists for the position.

Fowler advised Freiberg about one major argument in the lawsuit, which stemmed from differing definitions of "applicant." He said the question that would arise would, again, be whether someone who submitted a resume would be considered an applicant for the job.

Original article can be found here ➤

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