EDITORIAL: Let national search land airport director

2013-09-23T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Let national search land airport director nwitimes.com
September 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

An stealth move to push through the hiring of a new Gary/Chicago International Airport director failed on a 3-3 vote Friday. That's the wrong way for the new airport board to operate.

Airport Authority Chairman Thomas Collins, an appointee of Gov. Mike Pence, expressed his surprise at the nomination of B.R. Lane, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's chief of staff, to serve as executive director at the airport.

Freeman-Wilson supports Lane for the job, saying her prior experience as head of regulatory compliance with a major gaming company prepared her for the airport director job. The director has to deal with agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Whether she's a good choice or not, she hasn't been vetted by the proper process.

In April, the Airport Authority approved paying $30,000 to ADK Executive Search, of Atlantic Beach, Fla., to conduct a nationwide search for a new airport director.

That's the right way to get the right person for this position. In fact, the mayor's transition team conducted extensive searches for key posts in her administration. Why should this be any different?

There are many changes at the airport in the offing. Not only does a new director need to be hired, but also privatization of airport operations to be considered.

Working with an investor with deep pockets requires an additional skill set, and the hiring process must take that into account.

The same is true of bringing the massive runway extension project to completion.

The airport director also must work diligently to attract regularly scheduled passenger service to the airport.

The national search should be turning up top candidates with these qualifications. If Lane surfaces as the best candidate, fine. But follow the proper process to make sure the best candidates are interviewed.

And don't try to sneak someone in. That would taint the hiring process and the administration of whoever becomes director. Do this in an open, transparent process.

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