Amount of power in question for 4 city appointments to airport commission

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

With Charlotte City Council's four appointments last night, most of the seats are now filled for the airport commission.

Mayor Patsy Kinsey plans to name her three appointees by Oct. 1.

The question is what the appointees will have the power to do, since they don't have Federal Aviation Administration authority to run the airport.

The four appointed were:

-- Pamela Bennett, who is a current member of the Airport Advisory Committee, which has stopped meeting during the legal battle

-- Anthony Fox, an attorney at Parker Poe law firm

-- Robert Stolz, CEO of the Wurth Group in west Charlotte

-- Pam Syfert, Charlotte's former city manager who retired in 2007

The appointees did not respond to a request for comment.
Councilman Billy Maddalon admits right now they have limited power.

"For the time being, this is status quo. That the commission is not running the airport, the staff is running it is going to be the case," Maddalon said.

Charlotte City Attorney Bob Hagemann said, under the judge's ruling, the commission can adopt a seal, maintain offices, sue and be sued in the name of the commission, purchase insurance, hire and fire, seek approval from FAA and fix the compensation of the executive director.

The executive director would be Jerry Orr, who is still on city payroll. Orr's attorney, Richard Vinroot, said he had a conference call with the FAA on Tuesday, a welcome sign after what he called a lack of communication.

He declined to discuss the details of the call, but he wondered if the FAA may not have the final say in the airport decision.

"The FAA may in fact ask the judge to resolve the issue," Vinroot said. "I don't think they are that complicated."

Hagemann said the new appointees have been cautioned about speaking to the media before the full commission is formed, which could be why phone calls to the appointees weren't returned.

Channel 9  asked when Orr will be off the city payroll, since he no longer works for the city.

"That's a good question," Hagemann said.