The worm turns at LR Airport | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The worm turns at LR Airport

Posted By on Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 6:38 AM

Ron Mathieu
  • Ron Mathieu
The Arkansas Times is still waiting for an interview with Ron Mathieu, director of the Little Rock National Airport, and the airport's media manager, Tiajuana Williams, over Mathieu's $40,000 sponsorship of the football field at Little Rock Christian Academy, where Mathieu's son attends school.

The Times is still waiting for e-mailed responses to questions sent last week when Ms. Williams said there would be no interview for us.

But Mathieu did grant the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette an audience yesterday. He told the newspaper he now believes he might have made a misjudgment in pushing this deal we revealed. There's even talk of attempting to get the money back. Also, some airport commissioners who were reticent to talk to us less week, much less criticize Mathieu, have now changed their tunes. They aren't happy that Mathieu misled them at a June meeting about ad expenditures. They've apparently read some of the howls of outrage about this smelly deal and now think maybe it wasn't such a good idea. Timing is unfortunate. The airport has a lavishly promoted groundbreaking this morning for an airport expansion.

Mathieu told the D-G:


“I am aware that a number of commissioners believe that it should’ve been handled differently,” Mathieu said. “I can’t say I disagree with them.”

This is quite a change from the angry statement he issued Friday afternoon after our story revealing the deal broke. It was, he said in a statement released at a news conference of which we were not informed except by email after our office closed, a story of "innuendo and untruths." The sponsorship was an "interesting opportunity" to be "creative," he said. He said he'd deferred decision-making to his subordinate, Williams, and he also said: "It is important to note that the Little Rock Christian Academy board, like airport counsel, have reviewed this matter and both consider it to be a clean business transition. [sic]"

Clean transition? I asked Carolyn Witherspoon, a member of the law firm that holds the airport's $10,725 monthly retainer contract over the weekend if she had reviewed the matter and found it a clean "transition." I don't have a response to that yet, but I'm wondering if Mathieu threw counsel under the bus. UPDATE: Witherspoon said she had seen the deal and "it did comply with the policy." That, presumably, would be the policy that gave Mathieu discretion for spending up to $50,000 on his own hook. But wait: I thought Mathieu said he had nothing to do with the contract, that it was all Willliams' doing. Does she ALSO have authority to spend $40,000 however she wants? UPDATE: It was not Williams, but deputy director Bryan Malinowski who signed the contract. Same question. Where did he get the authority if not given by Mathieu.

The D-G provided information that Mathieu and his media manager refused to supply us without a trip to his lawyer's office. He's paid almost $181,000 a year and the Airport contributes a fat 10 percent in addition to that to a retirement and deferred compensation plan. It didn't mention the $42,000 vehicle he drives courtesy of the airport. It doesn't mention his lavish travel on airport business.

Airport Chairman Bobby East,
who wouldn't comment to us Friday, tells the D-G he's been talking to Mathieu and will have an executive session on the matter. I think the meeting ought to be in public. And I repeat my opinion of last night that a review of all Mathieu's judgment calls might be in order before a hurryup reprimand and decision to move on. I note that Jay Chesshir, executive director of the taxpayer-subsidized private Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, is on the groundbreaking program for the invocation this morning. The clubby airport operation and its lack of tough oversight is all too reminiscent of the city of Little Rock's refusal to provide public accountability of the money it shovels to the chamber. Chesshir (who if I'm not mistaken is also a parent of an LRCA alum) perhaps will have some sympathetic balm for Mathieu this morning. Reception to follow.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • One dead in shooting at Buffalo National River

    KTHV reports a man was fatally shot Saturday at the Buffalo National River in Searcy County in what is being called an officer-involved shooting. No other details at the moment.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Super Bowl line

    Over to you.
    • Feb 7, 2016
  • Federal judge reprimands John Goodson for misconduct in class-action case

    John Goodson  — the Texarkana attorney, D.C. lobbyist, and husband of Arkansas State Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson — was reprimanded today by a federal judge for his conduct in a class-action case.
    • Aug 3, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • "20 or so CSA irrregulars mustered to protect the Confederate statue on the town square…

    • on August 20, 2017
  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • Gary, don't forget the sore, bruised, and lacerated knuckles.

    • on August 20, 2017
  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • Boy, gofer you have convoluted things for everybody with attributions that are not true, unless…

    • on August 20, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation