The first “act of decency” by Commissioner/Chairman J.R. Iman would be an apology to the Citizens of Ravalli County for the disrespectful, arrogant, non-transparent meeting which was conducted regarding the Ravalli County Airport. Win or lose, the attitude of the Commissioners was inexcusable to young and old alike. Citizens took time out of their daily routine for a ‘Public Hearing’ which was anything but.
An Operator of one of the local Fixed Base Operators made the comment, “We are going to kick your ass on this one,” which displayed the obvious, that the decision by the Commissioners was not only premeditated, but also vindictive.
There are so many parallels to what is going on at both the national and local level. Revoking rights, lack of transparency, spending monies that we do not have, and a total lack of respect. It is public record that several of the Commissioners received campaign funding from members of the Airport Board. Obviously, the decision reached by the Commissioners regarding the Airport is “payback” for pre campaign contributions, and would be considered “rewarding political donors.” “Conflict of interest” adorns the Commission ranging from Real Estate to Title equity.
Comments were made by the Commission that the Airport was dangerous and unsafe. The FAA under one occasion made the Airport unsafe by signing off on a hangar too close to the runway creating a height violation, and the other example of being ‘unsafe’ cannot be justified due to the amount of aircraft category traffic. Information regarding the Forest Service was revisited with ‘misinformation’ that had been clarified years ago, indicating that the Commissioners had been “coached” by one group, and one group only, the Airport Board. Scare tactics and other misinformation by the Commissioners led the public to believe they were unable to obtain information from the FAA, when even you, the general public, have access to this information. One of the Commissioners even believed that the passage of Alternative 2A, which was approved by the FAA, would result in the FAA abandoning any financing of the airport in the future and that the County would have to pay back all the money that the County has borrowed from the FAA. This being an “approved and sanctioned” Alternative by the FAA.
The “Letter of Determination” and “FONSI”, Finding of No Significant Impact, was similar to the Master Card advertisement: Years it took to achieve a decision: over 10: Money it took to achieve a decision: over $150,000.
Having the Document in hand to proceed immediately: PRICELESS!
The decision the Commissioners reached will put Ravalli County behind years and tax dollars that have already been spent for what? To undo a vote enacted by the previous Commission to “Move Forward.” The Commission was “Hell Bent” to reverse this decision, and their minds were made up before they even set foot in the meeting room.
As one of the Principals with the FAA stated, “If Alternative 2A is not accepted, a resolve will not be achieved in my career lifetime.”
Shame on you, Ravalli County Commissioners!
Dan DePauw, B.S Aeronautical Science, M.S Aviation Management
Captain for FedEx, Memphis