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
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.
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
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
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?