Haffey addresses airport article | TheUnion.com

Haffey addresses airport article

This past Thursday, The Union reported on the update to the Airport Business Plan that was accepted by the Board of Supervisors at their March 27 meeting.

In the first line of both the article and the opinion piece was a reference to a sushi bar as part of the Airport Business Plan. This reference came from a brief comment made in jest at the board meeting. Yet it was reported as a fact of the business plan and then reinforced in the opinion piece suggesting a revisit of the plan.

Here’s a suggestion: How about the reporter and the editor read the business plan for the first time. If they do, they’ll find no reference whatsoever to a sushi bar.

As a result of your misstatement, Chairman John Spencer has been busy returning phone calls from airport users that think his idea of a sushi bar is misguided.

The Airport Business Plan was the culmination of many hours of hard work by a number of dedicated individuals including members of the Airport Commission, airport users and others in the community who don’t always agree but gave valuable input to this document.

I would like to recognize Terry Lowell, Dave Blanchard, Jay Winters and the newest member of the commission, Gordon Beattie. Terry, Dave and Jay reviewed and suggested much of the plan. Deputy County Executive Joe Christoffel and Airport Manager Greg Marshall did the analysis and facilitated the differing opinions. I would like to publicly compliment these individuals; all should be lauded for their efforts. It is unfortunate that their excellent work was trivialized and reported inaccurately.

I know we all believe everything we read in the newspaper, but in this isolated incident there were some errors. The reporter referenced $7,000 in revenue this fiscal year rather than next fiscal year. The actual figure is $11,500. The interesting and worrisome part is the plan projects a $27,500 deficit in August of 2009. Now there’s a story, but hey, sushi is tastier.

The opinion piece did make an interesting and very cogent point. Maybe the private sector should run the Airport. This has been the topic of many conversations within the County.

Over the last few years The County has encouraged the concept of privatization where possible. An example would be the Lovett Recovery Home now operated by a non-profit rather than County employees.

To the chagrin of the Superior Court and much of the legal community, the County recently issued a Request for Proposals for both Public Defender and Indigent Defense Services. It was ultimately decided to hire a Public Defender, but the County is still considering a contract for Indigent Defense. The County will always look to the private sector or non-profit community if they can do the job better.

In the case of the airport, it may be appropriate at some point to seek such proposals. One overriding consideration will be public safety. The CDF Air Attack base is an extremely valuable asset to our community in the event of a wildfire.

We all take great comfort in the drone of the spotter plane and tankers during the fire season. Nothing should happen to jeopardize an operation that is capable of responding within moments of an incident. This vital operation is another important story.

The good news is that the airport has much improved during the past few years and still has room for improvement. The airport has recovered from years of previous mismanagement thanks to the diligence of the Airport Commission, staff and constant input of the airport users.

Good news apparently isn’t welcome at The Union; look what the editor said about the Grand Jury’s recent positive report on the corrections camp. I know good news doesn’t sell newspapers.

The fourth estate has the absolute right to report, opine and define the debate on public issues. Along with that right they have a responsibility to report events and issues accurately.

Richard Haffey is the CEO of Nevada County

Editor’s note: The articles never stated that the sushi bar was contained in an airport document. The reporter attending the meeting didn’t think it was a joke. The plan still calls for a “restaurant.” We said that ” and also questioned whether it was a good idea. We also quoted from the business plan. Nobody returned our reporter’s follow-up calls. The chief issues we raised were why aren’t privatization and an airport district being explored now? As to the Grand Jury, we applauded the positive report on the corrections camp. We also asked why there wasn’t more scrutiny in government from the Grand Jury but said it was expected. Some stories are positive, and some stories are negative. We face a lot of serious issues around here: Perhaps public meetings aren’t the best forum to crack jokes that could be misunderstood, especially absent any returned phone call.

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