Director Of Austin Airport “Resigns”

Director Of Austin Airport “Resigns”

My home town of Austin has a new mayor and with that a lot of changes. We had a terrible ice storm that was handled poorly. At various times over 30% of the city was without power, mostly because tree branches froze and the weight of the ice brought down branches and with them power lines.

There’s been some finger pointing over the trimming of trees, and the extent to which the city blocked the city-owned power company doing proper maintenance. Regardless, the head of Austin Energy wasn’t ask to leave, the city manager was.

While the response to the storm was the story this coalesced around, the city manager also did an end run around the city council and voters in negotiating a four year police contract – in advance of a ballot measure that would have placed accountability requirements outside the realm of collective bargaining. The council had expected a one year contract, awaiting the results of the ballot measure.

The city manager, the ‘last mayor’s guy’ (just given a big raise!) was replaced on an interim basis by.. the head of the new mayor’s PAC (himself a former city manager under this mayor who been elected previously).

But that wasn’t the only head to roll. Once the new interim city manager was in place, the director of the Austin airport suddenly resigned earlier this month. Austin doesn’t have an independent airport authority. Like the power company, and the convention center Hilton, it’s all part of city government.

She was replaced on an interim basis by the airport manager who had been… appointed by this new mayor the last time he was in office.

It seemed pretty obvious that the airport manager didn’t resign, but rather “got resigned.” It turns out there’s not even a resignation letter.

The airport faces huge challenges ahead. It has been one of the fastest growing in the nation year after year, it is essentially maxed out on flights, and has a plan creeping along to address growth. Meanwhile the airport shuts down on busy days – a year ago there were stories of people abandoning rental cars in order to walk to the terminal to make flights – and the need for additional fuel storage to accommodate growth in flights got bogged down in city council politics. Even an Escape lounge (locations of which are now branded as Centurion Studios) fell victim to politics right before the pandemic.

Austin desperately needs an airport that’s run outside of city politics.

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