Saturday, January 25, 2014  
Search By Keyword
Breaking News Alerts
Email Alerts
Email Address
Text Alerts
Mobile Number
 )  - 
Mobile Provider
standard messaging rates apply
Affordable Care Act
Overall, do you believe that the Affordable Care Act will better your situation?
Aviation Authority Board Minorities Can Be Game-Changers
12/18/2013 3:31:31 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Recent news that two women have been named to the Charleston County Aviation Board is welcome. The aviation board had been obscure for a long time. A lot of stuff ran under the radar.

But in the last couple of years the board has gotten more publicity, due in no small part, to the redevelopment of the 28-year-old Charleston International Airport facility expected to cost about $150 million.

The construction, which incorporates everything from the runways to parking lots was touted as an economic opportunity for minorities. Not the game-changer that was the reconstruction of Atlanta, Ga.’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that began in 1977 under the administration of then Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, but an economic injection to Black contractors that could serve as a model for other construction projects in the region.

Unfortunately, things haven’t panned out well for the minority business community as far as the airport construction is concerned. And I don’t know if placing more minorities on the aviation board will change the game that’s been played for decades.

Last May I reported that some four million dollars had been spent to construct a tarmac and runway apron. A local source said only one minority contractor, a Columbia-based firm, was used as a subcontractor in the project earning about $200,000. That five percent participation in the contract for the project to date doesn’t bode well, the source contended. In 2011 the aviation authority, which regulates the airport, announced a minority business participation goal of 8.2 percent.

Setting goals without a mechanism in place to insure those goals are met is just so much posturing and rhetoric. Having minorities in place doesn’t always constitute a guarantee mechanism either.

Black folks have sat on the county’s aviation board for some time now, but that never has translated into economic opportunities for Black businesses. Sure a few Black folks made a couple of dollars, but widespread economic opportunities never has come from their presence at the table.

Currently two Blacks sit on the aviation board - brothers Teddie and Spencer Pryor. Both are good guys, smart guys. But you’ve got to wonder why Black businesses aren’t getting more from the airport construction than what’s come out so far. Especially since Teddie Pryor is chairman of Charleston County Council and director of tourism for the City of North Charleston!

I ain’t lookin’ for no fight. I’m just askin’ a question.

In recent months the aviation board has been revealed as another bastion for the good ole boys network. The politicians who run things - they choose the board members and sit on it - have gone off the chain.

A couple of months ago after the former female airport director, Sue Stevens, resigned amid allegations of back room dealings and intimidation, the board hired a fellow politician to take her place.

Boy did that ever look shaky. But right behind it came this latest maneuver to increase the salary of the aviation authority’s attorney by some $50,000 taking him to a potential $280,000-plus annual salary.

When my editor heard that one, he immediately asked me to look at a story comparing the aviation authority attorney’s salary to that of Charleston County’s attorney. Need I say the aviation authority’s attorney is white and Charleston County’s attorney is Black? Some Charleston County officials nearly blew a gasket over their attorney’s approximately $300,000 annual salary.

But anyway, back to naming two women to the aviation authority’s board - I don’t see that as an extremely liberal move.

One of the women named is Jennie Sanford, ex-wife of former S.C. Gov. and current Cong. Mark Sanford. She’s tossed her hat in a couple of political rings lately. I keep wondering why. I don’t see her as politically astute or capable of making policy for the aviation authority. But then political appointments usually aren’t made based on ability.

So now we’ve got two Blacks and two women on the aviation authority board. Girls, don’t look for a whole lot to come out of those appointments. Still, I’m willing to bet that white women will get a whole lot more out of their being on the board than Black business gets out of our brothers being on the board.

I think the one ray of hope about all this is Andy Savage. I think Andy’s a good guy who will try to make sure things are run fairly. I just don’t think he’s been focused on the Black business aspect. So Andy, I hope you see this piece as a tap on the shoulder.

Visitor Comments
Account Login  

  need help?  
Current Conditions
Charleston, SC
Radar & More >>
click ad below for details
Show All Ads