The Rochester Intl. Airport: Its Not About the Credit Cards

For all the hoopla about the Rochester International Airport and the the County Airport Authority, you’d think cigars and credit cards were the real issue. You could be forgiven in thinking that, since just about every report on the issue brings those two things up. Every. single. time.

But Rochester City Newspaper has published the full report(PDF) and even the executive summary makes it clear: the problem isn’t expenses or credit cards. The problem isn’t the Authority at all, really. The issue is the fact that the Authority is a patsy agency for the Airport itself and County at large:

This report concludes that the board of directors of the Monroe County Airport Authority (Authority) has consistently fallen short of this duty … The Authority does not follow its own policies. The board … defers management and policy decisions to Monroe County … The board has shown a lack of independence and a willingness to be directed by the county’s Aviation Department, which operates the airport. The board merely adopts the budget amount presented to it by the county, without any detail for the cost of managing and maintaining the airport. Moreover, the County Executive, as the appointing authority for the board, and the County Legislature, which approves those appointments, have not held directors to the standards of accountability expected of public board members.

This is about the County using the Authority as a sop for lots of extra payments for… what, exactly? Who is going on these trips that aren’t accounted for? Where did those cigars go? And why is it that the only people being scrutinized by Maggie Brooks and the rest of the County are the people at the Authority?

County Executive Maggie Brooks said in a press release that by appointing a new airport director, recovering improperly spent money, and implementing new travel and credit-card policies, county officials have taken appropriate action.

County officials defend airport board

LATE UPDATE: It occurs to me that, in light of the actual charges levied against the Authority in the report, the issue of Maggie Brooks’ use of the Airport credit card deserves a closer look.