Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What is wrong with this picture of the airport board?

What started the current controversy over control of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority took place on November 20, 2013.  Mayor Harvey Johnson allowed the terms of all board members  to expire and didn't nominate replacements.  Mayor Chokwe Lumumba took advantage of Harvey's negligence and nominated five people in one day.  Four Lumbumba appointees still sit on the five-member board.  Their backgrounds are not exactly what one sees among the resumes of board members at other major airports in the Southeast.

Other cities and counties appoint captains of industry, tourism industry representatives, attorneys, developers, and of course, licensed pilots to the governing boards of their respective airports.  Jackson naturally can't do what is smart or normal, but instead appoints people woefully lacking any competent business skills to govern one of the most important economic drivers for Mississippi.  Jackson appoints commissioners based on their ward, then their actual qualifications.  In other words, the homeboy factor is more important than the professional factor.  It's all about where one is from and not what one can actually do- and Jackson wonders why it can't compete.  Compare the board members for yourself. Pay attention to Nashville as it has specific background requirements for board members.

James Henley: CPA, Bankruptcy Trustee, Attorney, Pastor
Dr. Rosie Pridgeon*: Retired Superintendent of Mississippi School for the Blind
Lawanda Harris: Registered Nurse
Vernon Hartley: Former Jackson solid waste manager/Environmental Administrator for MDEQ. Former Information Director for the Mississippi Democratic Party
Evelyn Reed: Retired probation officer. MBA in finance.  DJ on WKXI.

*Reverend Jeffrey Stallworth was appointed by Mayor Lumumba and occupied the seat currently held by Dr. Pridgeon. Mayor Yarber appointed Dr. Pridgeon

New Orleans
Cheryl Teamer: Consultant, Former VP of Gov. Relations at Harrah's, Attorney at Adams & Reese
Doug Thornton: Sr. VP at SMG.  Manages the Superdome.  Former VP for land acquisitions at Taylor Energy.  Credited with restoring the Superdome after Katrina
Michael Smith: General Manager of Hyatt Regency, New Orleans
Ti Martin: Co-owner of Commander's Palace
Lea Polk Montgomery: Attorney, Realtor, Consultant at Solomon/Smith Barney
Roger Ogden: Developer, philanthropist
Todd Francis: CEO of FFC Capital Markets (Finance)
Gary Smith: Political consultant
Jim Hudson:Executive VP at Iberia Bank, Chairman of East Jefferson Hospital Bd. of Trustees

Pace Cooper: CEO of Cooper Hotels (21 hotels, several are aviation hotels). Harvard MBA
Jim Keras: Owns several car dealerships
Pamela Clary: Executive VP at Community Capital
JW Gibson: CEO of Gibson Companies.  Core businesses are development, printing, and medical supply.
Michael Keeney: Attorney
Darrell Thomas: President of Thomas Consultants (Information Technology)
Keri Wright: CEO of Universal Asset Management (Aircraft Management company). Pilot.

Little Rock
Stacy Hurst: Executive Director of Department of Arkansas Heritage
John Rutledge, Jr: Pilot, President of First Security Bank
Jim Dailey: Former Mayor
Jesse Mason: Director of Cooperative Education at UA-LR. USAF veteran, B.S. in Economics
Virgil Miller: Community Reinvestment Director at Arvest Bank


The airport's website states:  "10-member board of commissioners appointed by the mayor of Nashville. The board is made up of three (3) business and finance representatives, two (2) pilot representatives, two (2) neighborhood representatives, one (1) engineering representative, one (1) legal representative and the mayor of Nashville Davidson County. KF note: No references to Wards or Districts. 

 Michael Bell: Mayor's brother, Executive Director of Construction Industry Authority
Gaynell Hendricks: Tax Assessor, Owner of daycare centers
Robert Earl Kelly: Owns Kelly Road Builders
John McMahon, III: CEO of Jorden Industries
Edgar Marx: Co-owner of Marx Brothers, Inc. (Coconut importer)
Ruffner Page: McWane Industries  (Manufacturer of iron water works. 6,000 employees)
Steven Hoyt: Councilar (member of city council), community activist
Aaisha Muhammed: President of East Lake Neighborhood Association

Meanwhile, the JMAA Board of Commissioners recently issued this statement about State Senator Josh Harkins' efforts to change the board:

Preliminary remarks from JMAA Board of Commissioners Chairman, Dr. Rosie L.T. Pridgen, included a statement on behalf of the Board regarding the proposed legislation that would alter the makeup of the Board.

“It is the unanimous position of this five-member Board of Commissioners that we oppose any and all efforts to re-constitute the structure, composition, appointments, confirmations and/or any other measures of the Board of Commissioners for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority”, said Pridgen.

Of course they would issue that statement.  A bunch of nobodies who want to be somebodies.  The problem is, only one of them is qualified to sit on that board if one looks at the boards of other airport authorities.   There are no pilots on the board.  No businessmen.  No one who has a clue about tourism.  A CPA/lawyer, retired bureaucrats, and a nurse.  The street where a commissioner lives means more than his actual background.  What could possibly be wrong with this picture?


Anonymous said...

Pretty pathetic but not surprising. Birmingham's airport was very similar to Jackson's 5 years ago, but they made some tremendous upgrades in the last few years. Typically, I am against overreach by a larger gov't body, but in this case it seems necessary for the betterment of the Jackson metro area and the state of MS.

Anonymous said...

This is why Jackson is failing. Very few people with any authority are qualified to run a McDonald's, much less a city. I'd put our current mayor in that category as well.

Anonymous said...

It would seem that phoney Tony could replace sevetal members by appointment. How do we replace the current JMAA board members?

Kingfish said...

The terms were staggered to prevent what did take place. Terms don't expire at the same time. Similar to the MDE Board. Harvey never got around to replacing them so Chokwe had a unique opportunity to remake the board in one day. What was he supposed to do, not appoint replacements?

Elections have consequences.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the lists of other airports and having spent time travelling through them, I think there's something to be said for having members on a board who don't fly first class, or have a corporate jet or personal jet at their disposal.
While I agree that board members shouldn't be chosen on a political basis, these airports are hardly great models.
I want someone on a board with a lot of flying miles as a passenger in coach as well!
When I fly with my husband, flying is wonderful. I'm never bumped and always have a seat assignment, my luggage gets there and the gate person is always helpful. Unfortunately, if I'm travelling alone, his privileges don't extend to me. Nor can I use his club membership.
You'd think a spouse could be added at a discount, but that is not the case and I don't fly without him often enough to justify full price.
I want someone on the board who is consumer oriented!
It is a myth that a successful business person actually knows everything there is to know about running everything! They may just be good at making a widget and then hiring smart people after the widget is in demand! And, I know more than a few business owner's of large corporations who simply inherited enough company stock from Daddy to maintain control but are hardly geniuses!

Anonymous said...

Do members of the Airport Board receive any form of compensation?

Anonymous said...

8:30 +1

Anonymous said...

That is the Ms. way. Can you name anyone on any board in the whole state of Ms. that were picked because of their knowledge or experience? That is the main reason Ms. is always in last place, except for STDs Can't really blame it on the board members. It is the fault of who we elect to office. Elect crap expect crap out of them.

Anonymous said...

At 8:30 just pay like the rest of us do. I promise you will be o.k..

Anonymous said...

@8:30 you seem to understand the business about as well as the current board.

The point is we should use the airport to drive economic development. The board should be capable of attracting industrial/commercial tenants and carriers, as well as obtaining and retaining passenger carriers. The focus should be on dealing with other businesses.

It's not like the airport board has much to do with the passenger experience on any given airline anyway (including your specific concerns about being bumped and upgraded).

Anonymous said...

8:30 is correct. The board is to be representative of the community. Not of the airline industry. And those other boards are every bit as political as the Jackson Board.

Anonymous said...

There is no connection between being a successful businessperson or pilot and serving on a public board. The airport is run by the management, not the board. The board does need the expertise to provide oversight, and I see nothing about the existing board that says they can't.

Let me make a guess, if Harkin's proposal is passed, the new board will be filled by older, white, rich, male, Republicans. Surely, that represents the interests of average Mississippians. New contracts will be awarded to highly connected firms who are already feeding at the public trough. They will just be white, rather than black.

Kingfish said...

Ah, the Mississippi Way- appoint people who know nothing about anything to board instead of people who might have some expertise on the subject at hand.

You know, like the people who oppose putting financial planners or analysts on the PERS board even as non-voting members.

Anonymous said...

When all else fails to keep your cronies in power, scream racism. If you think they're not qualified, you are automatically racist.

Kingfish said...

I didn't approve your comment because that was an old picture of that city's board and some of those members are no longer members.

Alpha Storm said...


Anonymous said...

11:06, Kingfish, what the board is , who is elected to fill the board, or who chose the board members, it would be nice if they knew a little something about what they are on the board of.
Why have non-voting members on any board? Just cluttering up the place.

Anonymous said...

The Board is in charge of two airports. General Aviation in Jackson has been neglected for years. It is not all about airlines. Many corporations and people use private aircraft to do business. The board has not on pilot on it. Not one has any relation to general aviation that is a billion dollar business in Mississippi. Evers Field is hostile to General Aviation. Under Vanderleest he wanted GA out of the airport while totally neglecting Hawkins Field. Only one fixed base operator ( they service and fuel GA airplanes) on both airports. There use to be three at Hawkins. It is a disgrace the way the airports in Jackson are being run!

Johnny Wadd said...

Need more nurses to serve on more of Jackson's boards like this. If anybody knows how to do an outstanding job, while dealing with complete bullshit, it's nurses.

Aileron said...

"...elections have consequences", "...who is elected to be on the board". Why even allow these comments. If you think these are elected positions, you don't belong in this conversation.

Additionally; If this board has no impact on 'managing the airport', what the hell is its reason for existence? Their travel budget alone is a perk that out-distances the perks of most boards in this state.

Anonymous said...

5:27, who do you think makes the decision on who is going to be on these boards?

Anonymous said...

5:27 - elections have consequences. Elections determine who appoints and confirms the members of these boards.

Agree with you though that the board does have some impact on management of the airport, and that's the problem. You can have a good general manager, but if the board is only interested in their perks and contracts for their buddies, the airport is stuck in neutral when it should be in overdrive.

And BTW @2:06 - if you want to go open another FBO at either airport, I'm sure they will lease you the space. I think the FBO at Hawkins is crappy, but there isn't business enough to support a second, much less a third like in the 70's and 80's. GA business has changed dramatically since those days (thank you Jimmy Carter, for driving all the aircraft manufacturers out of business) due to fewer and more expensive private aircraft.

But go ahead and see if it is the airport board that is the reason for only one FBO - offer to lease the space and open up your business.

Anonymous said...

One of the consequences of being elected should be not being re-elected if you can't do the job ! The job is to make government work best for the citizens, not to feather your own political, social or financial nest!

That some of you accept cronyism as a part of politics rather than a reason to kick someone's ass out of elected office is the problem!

10:50 am you are very narrow minded and don't understand how economic development is evolving in the electronic age if you think an airport is only to drive economic development and has nothing to do with transportation of people as well.

Anonymous said...

The expertise, or lack thereof, of the board is certainly an issue. Conspicuously absent to the question of whether the State should take over the airport is just how the State would operate differently from the City. Yes, the board would be seated by the Governor but how would the day-to-day operations be different? If it's a question of air service, how would the State convince other airlines that flying to Jackson would be profitable? Commenters have complained about fares, so would the State use taxpayer funds to subsidize the fares? If no one answers these questions, the effort appears to be a suburban power-grab where it's your cronies vs. my cronies. Good citizens should be more skeptical.

Anonymous said...

I have to completely agree with 7:53 am.

Anonymous said...

Dear 9:12 . I tried to build a hangar at Hawkins some time ago and also was invited to build T hangars. They wanted a huge price for the lease and you pay taxes on the building , then after 10 years they wanted you to deed your building to the city. I am not nuts so that went away. As far as a FBO , they set requirements so expensive that only one can survive. Until they get realistic about what an airport is pilots will continue to fill Madison and Raymond airports. The board and the management is the reason there is not enough business at either airport to support but one FBO. Why would a pilot want to pay $4.61 a gallon for Fuel at Hawkins or $5.87 at Evers when at Madison they can buy to same fuel for $3.85 or $3.70 at Raymond? Until you get some knowledgeable people on the board and get real there is never going to be a great GA presence in Jackson and that is a billion dollar business in Mississippi.

Unknown said...

The real question here isn't about the airport but its really about Fondren. When is fondren going to try and breakaway from jackson and become its own city??? ITS COMING!

sljohnson said...


sljohnson said...

Dang, Pridgen filed bankruptcy, are you kidding me??!!

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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