Deadline looms to select final 4 members of airport commission

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Tuesday is the deadline for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to name the final four members to the controversial airport commission.

State law said the appointments have to come by midnight, but so far neither Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey nor county commissioners have acted.

County commissioners are scheduled to vote on one of those appointments Tuesday.

A bigger mystery is who the mayor will choose with the three picks she controls.

Her spokesman isn't saying when she'll announce.

Those picks will give the city a majority on a board it doesn't want but that could start meeting soon.

The new airport commission was designed to run daily operations at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. A judge's ruling said the city of Charlotte keeps control for now.

The commission, though, still has some authority and commission attorney Martin Brackett said it could begin meeting and doing business soon.

"There's a huge amount of work to be done by the commission, even while the litigation is still going on," Brackett said.

State law set a deadline of midnight tonight for members to be named with three appointments to make, Kinsey has waited until the last minute to choose.

County Commission Chairman Pat Cotham and county commissioners have a list of 13 names to whittle down to one.

"We're looking at their qualifications and why they want to be involved. So we're going to select someone," Cotham said.

Whenever the full commission in place, it's Jerry Orr who will lead it. He's still being paid the same $211,000 a year that the city paid him to run the airport and last week told us he's keeping busy.

"I've been outlining the commission's role so that when the commission is OK'd to take over we can get started running," Orr said.

Among the commission's powers is the authority over employees including Orr. Brackett said the commission's plate will be full.

"A lot of it is going to be getting them up to speed as quickly as possible and then see what they want to be doing," Brackett said.