Tuesday, May 14, 2019

More Coverage on JMAA Paris Trip

Justin Vicory picked up the ball from last week's JJ post about the JMAA Commissioners going to Paris next month and ran with it for some more yards on the Clarion-Ledger website today:

The Jackson airport board recently approved travel expenses for all five of its commissioners and five staff employees to take a 12-day business trip to the International Air Show in Paris.

Billed as an economic development opportunity, the trip was unanimously approved by the five Jackson Mississippi Airport Authority commissioners at a March 25 board meeting.

For more than a week, JMAA has not responded to repeated requests for additional information and documentation...

The Jackson Municipal Airport Authority is funded by airport revenue. Most of that is from passenger spending. The airport also receives federal grants for specific projects from the Federal Aviation Authority.

It is not clear what part of JMAA's budget is being used to fund the trip. ...

JMAA officials have attended the air show in the past; however, it's highly unusual for the entire board and additional staff members to attend.

None of the three surrounding airports contacted by the Clarion Ledger said they had similar travel plans. ... Rest of article

Keep in mind Memphis used to be a hub for NWA before it merged with Delta and is a much larger airport.  The story continues:

Records from the March 25 meeting states the trip will be "extremely beneficial" to the authority, but does not say how.

Meeting minutes read that the air show "will offer a unique opportunity for engagement with all the economic, political, institutional and technological global aviation industry persons and entities in a single venue regarding aviation and economic development issues of importance to the JMAA."...

Lumumba on Monday lauded the goal of the airport board to pursue economic development opportunities, calling it "forward leaning," but also questioned the specifics of the trip.

"...not knowing what exactly will be presented at the Paris air show limits my ability to be critical and it limits my ability to be overly optimistic," he said.

The Mayor tried to be as diplomatic as possible. He's no dummy and probably is none too happy with the Commissioners right now for putting him on the spot like this.  He didn't cite any economic development coordination with JMAA.  Such an omission probably means the Board is flying solo to Paris.

Economic development teams such as MDA, Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce, MCEDA, Rankin First, or the Golden Triangle Development Link usually coordinate such trips and only go if they have a serious line on a project. It is heavily attended by CEO's of airlines and aviation manufacturers.   The first few days of the air show are closed to the public while real business is conducted.  The air show is not like a trade show in Vegas where participants collect goodies from booths and party at night.    It's not for prospecting and is real work for those who attend.  Several people who attended past shows said there is little reason for airports to attend.

Good job to Mr. Vicory.  Meanwhile, check out the crap coverage from the so-called Mississippi Business Journal:

Commissioners of a Mississippi airport and five of the airport’s staff members are planning a 12-day trip in June to attend the International Paris Air Show, at public expense.

The Clarion Ledger reports the trip could cost about $50,000 for travel, lodging and other expenses.

The trip received unanimous approval from the five Jackson Municipal Airport Authority commissioners at a board meeting March 25, the day before the airport CEO resigned. The board governs Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport.

Minutes of the meeting describe the trip as “extremely beneficial for the authority,” but didn’t point to deals the commission might be considering.

Jackson City Council member Ashby Foote said the trip sounds like a junket.

Some state lawmakers have been trying to add suburban representatives to the airport board.
 Business journal indeed.  More like a business joke.

Note: One common misconception about JMAA finances.  No JMAA money goes to the city of Jackson.  It doesn't go to the city's general fund.  The law requires JMAA money to stay at JMAA. 


Albert Schweitzer said...

If, as has been told, parking fees are the main source of income for this airport, will they be discounted in this charge too?

Perhaps they should swim back?

Anonymous said...

Airfare to Paris, twelve nights of lodging and meals... if you can pull that off for a mere $5k per person, I'd be pretty impressed.

I flew back from the Paris Air Show with the Governor in 2013. Don't know who paid for his trip that year, but he at least had a plausible excuse to go. These turkeys... not so much.

Kingfish said...

Tickets were $1,300 or so on skycanner a couple of weeks ago when I checked. $5400 would probably cover the air fare and hotel if you knew how to do it right. Smart people don't get the hotels but the private apartments for rent. The employees are limited to the GSA limit of $140 per day per diem

Anonymous said...

That was a 15-yard shank punt on Junior's part KF. He's just as likely wanting to know why the board didn't find a way to include him on the junket.

Anonymous said...

"The trip received unanimous approval from the five Jackson Municipal Airport Authority commissioners at a board meeting March 25, the day before the airport CEO resigned."

Worth repeating.

Anonymous said...

The crime and urban decay of post-refuge Paris will make the JMAA board and other attendees feel right at home. Hopefully they utilize the same security precautions that they use here. Don't forget that Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris. It is not uncommon for celebs to be robbed in Jackson.

They would've done better to call this boondoggle a team building exercise if they really want to deflect criticism.

Anonymous said...

Clowns gonna clown. The fault here lies with the person who put these people on the board and is shirking their oversight responsibilities. We do a horrible job of holding boards accountable. School boards are another notable example. I'm sure JJ readers are equally infuriated with our republican controlled legislature.

Anonymous said...

Show me a city run by Democrats and I'll show you a city in trouble. They just don't get it. They just don't see the big picture.

Cynical Sam said...

I hope they have budgeted for the good champagne, not the cheap stuff. After all, it's "their turn."

Why are their staffers going? To take notes? They will probably be told throughout the junket...err...important business trip, "don't write this down."

Anonymous said...

We're in the big house now!

Anonymous said...

I’d make these trip documents exhibit A in the trial for the state to take over the airport.

Anonymous said...

I’m sure JMAA will provide a list of the companies they are meeting with over the 12 days they will be in Paris (by the way the air show only runs for 6 days half of which are closed to public)

Anonymous said...

What possible business initiative would the JMAA have, that can only be addressed by sending 12 people to Europe for 12 days? Are they courting Air France to lease some gates at JAN? Who provides the oversight in such cases of shenanigans?

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that the State should take control of the airport or wait til the dummies get some folks killed. I will not fly into Jackson again.

Anonymous said...

France???? Oh man! We thought they meant Paris, Texas. You gotta be kidding!
Oh well, since we already voted on it and since we do have some extra money, we might as well go.... It might not be too bad.

Our mistake, sorry.

Anonymous said...

I heard Rankin County was taking over the AIrport by emergency injunction as soon as the wheels are up.

Should be a change in ownership before they get back.

PittPanther said...

Do JMAA commissioners serve at the pleasure of the mayor? Can they be replaced at any time, or are they in for a fixed period of time? You know Jr wishes he could fire the lot of them.

Anonymous said...

With the absence of the total board and it’s director, who will actually run the airport? If so, is this in violation of bylaws of the board or any state or local law?

Also, do we get to change the sign at the airport entrance back to Jackson International while they are absent?

I understand there are numerous issues with the plumbing. Why is that not addressed before this shenanigan takes place?

Will they get to wear big hats?

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Let’s out this junket in perspective. Federal and state employees and officials have been enjoying all expense paid trips to foreign destinations for decades. Some junkets are fruitful, and some not. However, the JMAA’s sending 10 folks to the Paris air show is clearly out of line. I’m fact, when one considers that the trip includes five additional expense paid days over and above the week long show puts this trip in the outrageous category. Even worse, the JMAA will pay for all travel related expenses. Literally that would mean anything the folks want to spend while in a Paris.

I have been to Paris three times on my own dime but never for more than seven days at a time. Unless the JMAA folks are going to share a HomeAway apartment and cook in, there is no way they can fly, stay and dine in Paris for 12 days at $5000 a person.

But the total cost is not the issue. It is the arrogance of believing that sending 10 folks to Paris for the air show is ok. It is not.

I wonder if there are actually ten free JMAA parking spots at the airport. If not, some of the staffers may have to take an expense paid Uber to and from or actually pay for parking. How inconvenient.

Ok, so I will give the junketeers a tip: The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they will save the day and buy a new runway and ship it back to Jackson.

Anonymous said...

I spent 5 days in NYC recently and the cost for three hotel rooms for those five nights was $8100.00. I call BS on the Clarion Ledger's $50,000.00 "could cost" proclamation.

Hold That Cab Please! said...

Don't over look this: Lumumba says he really can't criticize or high-five the trip since he is unaware of just what will take place or what they might be exposed to....Which opens the door for him to announce he will tag along...just to find out.

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of respect for Chairman James Henley. He is a very talented and smart man. However, I just don’t know why James would think this 10 person trip was something that could pass the sniff test. I can see two folks going for the length of the show but not more folks for 12 days. Absurd and arrogant.

Anonymous said...

@8:14 - boy, did you get screwed.

Anonymous said...

The only way they could justify the cost of this trip is if they come home with a Jackson to Paris non stop flight for $499 per person.

7:41 am they won’t be hanging out at the Louvre, they’ll be hanging out at the cheap souvenir stores and Hookah bars in Montmartre.

I could stay in Paris for $5,000 in 12 days but I stay in quaint little hotels recommended by Rick Steves and lunch is usually a Croque Monsieur on a park bench for me. I doubt that they will be as frugal as me since the City is picking up the tab.

Anonymous said...

This whole debacle has nothing to do with 'need to go' or 'cost-benefit analysis'. It's all about 'we in charge' and we can gone do it 'because we can'.

Pure and simple. Now move on. There are potholes we need to be naming.

Anonymous said...

The amount of expenditure, be it $50,000 or $500,000, is not the real question. The real pre-approval question is or ought to be, "Specifically and in detail, what are the goals and justification for each and every person, board member and/or employee, going to the Paris Air Show?" The post-trip question ought to be, "Specifically and in detail, explain how the previously established and documented goals and justifications for each and every person traveling were or were not reached." If that minimum requirement cannot be met, no one from the airport ought to go to Paris. If substantive and justifiable pre-trip goals are defined and detailed and not substantially met, the board ought to be replaced for mis/malfeasance and the employment status of each and every traveling employee reviewed.

Anonymous said...

The Jackson Airport is one of the few in the nation that only allows 15 minutes of free parking. I guess that the extra fees will pay for the Paris Airshow trip. You can't get a parking place, walk to the terminal and pick up a passenger or lost luggage in 15 minutes. Another reason why the airport is so unfriendly for the public. I can see one person going to the show for business but 10 is a scam. Please State of Mississippi take over the whole operation and get these no nothings off the board.

Anonymous said...

From Dr. Strangelove:

President Merkin Muffley:
General Turgidson! When you instituted the human reliability tests, you assured me there was no possibility of such a thing ever occurring!

General "Buck" Turgidson:
Well, I, uh, don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir.

Anonymous said...

I have a (rhetorical) proposal:

These folks are allowed to go if they foot the bill for entire trip. Then, when they return, they get a percentage of all the money their trip produces for the airport as not only reimbursement on their worthwhile out-of-pocket investment, but a fairly-earned profit as well. If a smart businessperson were offered such a deal and he or she were just reasonably confident in both their abilities and prospects for ROI, they'd jump on it in a minute. In broad terms such capital expenditure "deals" are undertaken by thousands of businesspeople every day, so why shouldn't the airport board and personnel not relish such an offer (again, rhetorically)?

Anonymous said...

8:55 You obviously overlooked, Chairman Henley is Reverend Henley now. That should explain everything. Rev. Ike would be proud.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....looks like Phil-Billy is getting in on the action before it is too late: "Governor-led Business Development Mission to Ireland with optional stops in Belgium and Netherlands, June 18-25, 2019". What company is going to cut a deal with a lame duck Governor? I guess we should all look the other way on this one, though. Move along. Just smell the roses.

Kingfish said...

The Governor has led several MDA delegations to the air show over the years. Guess you didn't read what I wrote.

Anonymous said...

3:04PM said/asked:

"Hmmm....looks like Phil-Billy is getting in on the action before it is too late: 'Governor-led Business Development Mission to Ireland with optional stops in Belgium and Netherlands, June 18-25, 2019.' What company is going to cut a deal with a lame duck Governor?"

Lame duck has nothing to do with it. Does anyone seriously think that companies in Ireland (and "optionally" Belgium and the Netherlands) are longing to do business in Mississippi and the only thing holding them back is that the boards/owners of those companies are breathlessly awaiting Philbilly and his posse to personally show up and lead them by the hand to the business paradise that is Mississippi. Wherever company money can be invested to produce a profitable return, companies are seeking to grab a piece of the action without any woo-pitching by redneck government officials.

Anonymous said...

I read what you wrote but my point is the timing of it. I support the Governor as the state CEO being out there drumming up business. But the fact that he is going out of office (i.e., lame duck) means no one he meets with will negotiate with him knowing the next CEO could change the deal. Therefore, a junket.

Unknown said...

Board members should not worry about new business. They should focus on airport maintenance. They have been working on one of the runways for almost three (3) years. How long does it take to repave a runway? How many airlines want to come to a one runway facility?

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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.

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