Mass resignations on city airport commission

Airport Commission Chairman Al Gradijan

Airport Commission Chairman Al Gradijan

The Cottonwood Airport Commission is now only about half its original size. Two members resigned during a Thursday night meeting and a third member resigned Friday. The seven-member commission is now only four-strong.

Margaret Austell submitted her resignation to Airport Manager Tim Costello for "personal reasons" Friday, but the departures of Larry Minch and John Altizer both are clearly rooted in the heated debate over airport operating rules and how they were adopted.

Members of the Commission as well as many airport users have opposed adopting the Airport Rules as ordinance as too overbearing.

In addition, Northern Arizona Avionic announced it was closing business at the airport at the first of the year because of the floundering economy and the "anti-business attitude of the Airport Commission."

Larry Minch, the Commission's former vice-chairman, stepped down early in the meeting. He announced his resignation, stepped into the audience and then spoke as a private citizen during the Commission's Call to the Public.

Altizer submitted his resignation when the meeting turned to new business. The first item of new business addressed "Proposed Rules of Order." Unlike the disputed Airport Operating Rules, which the council adopted by ordinance last week, the Rules of Order are an intended guide of how the board's meetings will be conducted. City Attorney Steve Horton assisted Chairman Al Gradijan in the drafting of those rules of order.

Minch, as a private citizen, repeated his earlier-stated concerns that the Commission had ruled one way in one meeting on the Airport Operating Rules but without rescinding its earlier unanimous vote, voted a second time for a different outcome

He recalled that the operating rules had been agreed upon as a guideline, not as an ordinance in law, and was adopted by the commission unanimously. However, in October, a five-person board voted three-to-two to adopt the entire lengthy best operating practices as an ordinance in law. Minch and Altizer were the two votes that opposed the adoption.

That procedure, according to Minch, violated the standards of Roberts Rules of Order, which are required by the Airport Commissions enabling Ordinance #505, which reads, "Revised Roberts Rules shall apply"(Municipal Code 2.100.100)

A second Minch objection alleged that the agenda reference to "Airport Ordinance" was too vague to show that the Commission was taking a "totally different and new concept" whereas the same two words on three prior agendas described a "seven-item bulleted list to be sent to the Council to be codified."

Altizer also objected to the commission's failure to follow Roberts Rules, and a possible violation of the Arizona Open Meeting Law, but also said that he strongly objected to being criticized, insulted and degraded for expressing a view different from the Commission chairman and city management."

Gradijan was not available Friday to discuss the resignations. The board is expected to discuss replacements at a future meeting.

Ironically, the three men - Gradijan, Altizer and Minch - together drafted the initial wording for the Airport Commission enabling ordinance.

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