One Gary contract ends for former Indy airport CEO

2013-10-15T18:00:00Z 2013-10-17T07:01:08Z One Gary contract ends for former Indy airport CEOBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

The first consulting contract landed by former Indianapolis International Airport CEO John Clark at Gary/Chicago International Airport has ended, with Clark's company collecting $165,952 for its work through August.

Clark's contract ended Oct. 8 and the new Airport Authority board, appointed at the end of August, did not extend it.

"As far as I know that contract has expired and there has been no discussion on it," new Airport Authority Chairman Tom Collins Sr. after Tuesday's regular authority meeting.

JClark Aviation billed the airport for 740 hours of work since it was hired by the previous airport authority board in April 2012 to develop business there, according to billing records obtained by The Times through an Access to Public Records request.

During that time Clark and business associate Al Stanley worked on a broad range of projects, performing many of the tasks formerly done by previous airport directors.

Clark was CEO of the Indianapolis airport from 2009 through March 2012. He left the Indianapolis job after controversy erupted about his billings for extended overseas trips to Switzerland, Brazil and Morocco. He landed the Gary job one month later.

JClark Aviation was one of a slew of companies hired on no-bid contracts by the previous Airport Authority. It also granted Clark a contract that could result in an additional $500,000 payday if he succeeds in landing a public-private partnership that meets the airport's goals by the end of this year. That contract is still in effect.

The Airport Authority also still owes Clark for any work performed in September and the first eight days of October under his original business development contract.

When asked about any possible extension or renewal of Clark's business development contract, recently appointed airport interim director B.R. Lane said the just-expired contract will be reviewed as part of a comprehensive review of all airport consulting contracts.

The previous Airport Authority board also voted in July to hire Clark as overseer for the airport's $166 million expansion project. Clark rolled the billing for that job into his business development contract with the airport.

The job of expansion project overseer is now being done by Lane, according to airport spokesman James Ward.

At Gary, Clark was successful in concluding a deal with Chicago real estate baron Elzie Higginbottom's Eastlake Management & Development Corp. for a new aircraft service facility at the airport. He also negotiated a renewal of the Boeing Corp. lease through Aug. 2016.

But Clark's efforts to expand Allegiant airline's Gary service by adding St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport as a destination yielded no results.

In February he traveled to an Allegiant airline conference in Phoenix on the airport's dime. He collected $463 from the airport for trip expenses and billed it $6,431 for the 26 hours he spent working before, during and after the conference.

Three months later, Allegiant announced it would stop flying from Gary. It ended its twice-a-week flights to Orlando-Sanford International Airport in August, leaving the airport once again with no regularly scheduled passenger service.

Clark did not return calls or an email requesting comment.

The billing records obtained by the Times show Clark exceeded the $10,000 per month limit placed on his compensation in October 2012 in every month since then. The largest overage was for August, when Clark collected $17,444 total.

When that $7,444 overage was questioned at a September airport authority meeting by member Michael Doyne, he was told Clark was permitted to exceed the $10,000 cap with permission from the airport director and authority chairman.

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