No matter what side of the Briscoe Field fence you’re on, you’ve got to have a feeling in the pit of your stomach that “somethin’ just ain’t right” about the decision-making by commissioners Beaudreau, Lasseter, and Howard last week.
A to move ahead with the Request for Proposals for possible commercialization of Briscoe Field. Lasseter, Beaudreau, and Howard voted “yes” and Nash and Heard voted “no.” However, no action was taken until last week … four months later … after two studies recommended commercialization “not feasible” and advised that “before issuing RFPs, the county must establish a goal with citizen input.” The . Problem? You betcha! They didn’t have the guts to inform their CEO () or their cohort (John Heard) of their decision until it was a done deal.
Were any laws violated? That’s yet to be determined. Did these three commissioners use poor judgment in pushing RFPs through without full disclosure to fellow board members and the taxpayers? Absolutely. Did they purposely deceive? I believe that is the case. Should not the Chairwoman be the lead person in requesting “staff” to proceed with such an important issue? How did the “Gang of Three” notify “staff” to proceed? Email, written requests, phone call, personal meeting? Who is “staff”? Glen Stephens? Why the cloak of secrecy? As a citizen, I feel that my trust has been violated by these three commissioners.
Two studies have been completed: The Atlanta Metropolitan Aviation Capacity Study and the IMG Study paid for by you and me to the tune of $80,000. The AMACS analysis shows commercialization of Briscoe “not feasible at this time” due to problems with airspace, a $2.2 billion cost, and concerns with land space acquisition surrounding Briscoe.
The IMG study suggested options and and recommendations which include:
-continue the 2010 process of statements of qualifications;
-continue the 2010 process, but re-open the RFQs to new respondents;
-restart the process;
-establish a clear goal for Briscoe with citizen input to lead to a higher likelihood of success;
-take time to understand the opportunity with studies (market, technical planning, environmental, financial feasibility, economic impact);
-market the opportunity with websites, information sessions;
-DEVELOP THE RFP CAREFULLY…THE BEST APPROACH DEPENDS ON THE COUNTY’S GOAL (Guess what? There is no clear, established goal);
-de-link the commercial service from the privatization debate.
The IMG study shows concerns over airspace, land space acquisition surrounding Briscoe, expansion of runways, substantial public funding, and no guarantee of commercial airline interest in Briscoe. This study is clear. It is non-biased, yet the “Gang of Three” still has questions for IMG. A meeting will be scheduled to meet with IMG ASAP. The three continue to ignore results of these studies as they bulldoze their way with an agenda that isn’t supported by public input or factual information. When the county contracted with the FAA to start this process, one of the stipulations was the county would set up a Blue Ribbon Committee with a wealth of citizen input. To date, this committee doesn’t exist. When and if the time comes, will the commission place an even number of opponents and proponents on the committee? We shall see.
If you’re interested in the well-being of our beloved county, visit the county channel and watch Beaudreau’s, Lasseter’s, and Howard’s “shenanigans” Tuesday night. Their behavior was shameful. But pay particular attention to the demeanor of Chairwoman Nash. You will see the actions and emotions of a true public servant … one concerned with the trust of the people and success of our county, not serving her own selfish interests. Are we facing a repeat performance of the previous Board? The next BOC meeting is Sept. 20. I’ll see you there.
Mrs. McNeil is a 30-year veteran teacher in Gwinnett County and Buford City Schools. She and her husband have lived in Lawrenceville since he built their home in 1976. They are happily situated a half mile from Briscoe Field.