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Friday, November 4, 2011

Jerry Orr Flying High Again

Charlotte Douglas International Airport Director Jerry Orr has done it again.  And our City’s leaders, who all say they are for “jobs, jobs, jobs” are all purportedly behind this move, too, although the approval vote won’t officially take place until November 14th.
First, Orr suggested that for our safety, we should give an exclusive contract to only three cab companies to sit out front and receive all the outgoing business from the airport.  
Boy, were some faces red when it was exposed that one of those companies was made up of convicted felons—convicted over matters of producing fraudulent documents.  Even more embarrassing, on the small committee that approved the whole thing was Major Timothy Danchess, former head of Internal Affairs for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, and Mujeeb Shah-Khan, a highly-ranked attorney for the City of Charlotte.  It seems background check wasn’t high on the list for an attorney and a police officer, or for the Airport Director, who said he started this process over a safety concern. 
Well, you can still drive any taxi in Charlotte right up to the front door if you're dropping off, so safety doesn’t seem to be the real issue in the exclusive pickup contract.  And if the cleanliness or uniformity of cabs is an issue, then pass inspection requirements for everyone.  Ditto for Drivers’ background checks.  Doesn’t every cab passenger deserve quality and safety, no matter where they are in this city? 
That move was about something else.

Now there’s an announcement that all other banks’ ATM’s will be removed from the airport except for Bank of America, who will also receive exclusive advertising rights.  Great move to show Charlotte as a one-trick town for all the visitors arriving next year for the DNC 2012 convention, and any advance teams visiting as well.
What about convenience and fees for our visiting public?  Isn’t this just another monopoly at the airport, with funds going somewhere—but certainly not to the user or the City?  Will the extolled profits reduce costs to airport users in any way?   
The CRVA (Charlotte Regional Visitor’s Association) is charged with advertising at the airport.  Remember the CRVA?  They have barely been on the tongues of a politician or reporter since the constant stream of scandals drove them underground, but maybe this idea was one they helped with.   Someone needs to check the books on this deal.

More likely, this is just one more example of promoting one business over another for a relatively small payout which is going toward unstated expenses.  This is a town with extremely high unemployment, and heavily reliant on the banking industry.   Mayor Foxx claims he is bringing in jobs.  Was it a good idea to give several banks the boot out of our international airport, and put up exclusive promotional materials for Bank of America, especially just before the DNC 2012 convention is coming?                (No.)

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