Monday, May 3, 2010

Two Press Releases, Two Blunders

It was reported today that Mitchell International Airport had another recording breaking month in March. Good news all around, I think anyone would agree.

Leave it to politicians to mess it up.

Scott Walker sent out a press release touting the numbers, and accrediting it to his business buddies in the airline business. Overall, it's not a bad release, and one that would be appropriate for a community leader.

Except there is one hitch. At the bottom of his release, Walker included this language:
General Mitchell International Airport is owned by Milwaukee County and operated by the Department of Transportation & Public Works, Airport Division, under the policy direction of the Milwaukee County Executive and the County Board of Supervisors. The airport is entirely funded by user fees; no property tax dollars are used for the airport’s capital improvements or for its day-to-day operation. For more information on Mitchell International, visit
Again, in itself, not bad. But it takes on a whole new light when shown in the context that he won't commit to keeping this wildly successful airport in the public sector. Instead, he is still talking about privatizing it, even though such schemes have been shown to be utter failures around the nation.

County Board Chairman Lee Holloway saw through Walker's game, and also sent out his own press release, which was a little more self-serving:
Our success should be credited to those who provide policy direction and administration for the airport, including Supervisor Michael Mayo, Sr., Chairman of the County Board’s Transportation, Public Works & Transit Committee, and Airport Director Barry Bateman. They are both doing a wonderful job. Credit should also go to AirTran Airways, Republic Airways (Midwest and Frontier) and Southwest Airlines, which have all added service during the past year. AirTran recently established a hub in Milwaukee, second only to Atlanta. Republic is moving maintenance jobs here and expects to grow its Milwaukee hub further.

“This competition, combined with steady oversight from Milwaukee County, are key reasons for Mitchell’s success. This is why I have opposed attempts to sell the airport to an outside vendor. The County Board is effectively managing the growth of our airport. I am pleased that attempts to lease the airport to a private firm have been unsuccessful, because we may not have seen the same results.”
Again, besides being on the self-serving side, Holloway missed one key reason for the success: The county workers who make the Supervisors and Directors look good and keep the airport a place where all the airlines want to do business.

Just saying.

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