UPDATE: Whoa. Two of three Airport Commission seats already filled | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, December 19, 2015

UPDATE: Whoa. Two of three Airport Commission seats already filled

Posted By on Sat, Dec 19, 2015 at 7:36 AM

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Sad to report that there are no more Little Rock Board of Directors meetings until next year, so nothing to glean from the usual weekly release of agenda items.

I'm on the lookout for discussion of appointments to fill two — and eventually three — openings on the coveted Little Rock Airport Commission. It's unpaid but has always been a prestige spot. It was so prestigious that Robert East, one of those heading off after a maximum two terms, raised so much of a fuss about being passed over once that the Commission was expanded and he came on board in a new seat. Also term limited is Tom Schueck, the bumptious steel magnate who also was an expansion member in 2005. They'll have to look hard to match his, er, personality. East is no retiring violet either.

Additionally, Wesley Clark has said he won't seek a second term, so Stodola will have three slots to fill, subject to City Board confirmation. Six votes from the board control all city business, so mayoral control isn't always a sure thing. There was a division on a recent appointment that wound up going to Stacy Hurst. She claimed a traditional right as an outgoing city director (a tradition to which some objected) to claim a spot on a city board . Virgil Miller and Jesse Mason fill the other two slots.

Which brings us to the holiday rumor mill: One airport watcher offers these names as potential appointees: Construction executive Gus Vratsinas; retired County Judge Buddy Villines, a former City Hall insider, and a wild card, Nathan Rutledge, a lawyer and managing director at the Crews and Associates investments firm who  also is son of First Security Bank CEO Reynie Rutledge. No guarantee implied. If you have others, send them along.

UPDATE AND CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION: Well...

I just learned that the City Board actually voted at the end of an executive session Tuesday to fill two of the Airport Commission slots already. They went to Gus Vratsinas and to JOHN Rutledge, Nathan Rutledge's older brother, who's president of First Security Bank in Little Rock. So my guy was about 75 percent right, perhaps not so high a mark after the fact. No action yet on that third slot. All three old commissioners serve through the end of this month. I believe John Rutledge is licensed pilot, which answers one question I had. One member of the commission must be rated to fly. Bob East meets that standard currently.

I learned this from somebody who watched the meeting who said Director Erma Hendrix seemed to have opposed the airport appointees. 

I hope to get the list of applicants for the seat next week and run down the names. It would be nice to say an average Joe or Josephine get appointed to this commission for once, somebody who might be viewed as more in line with an average traveler. Wishful thinking I know.

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