Posted: 4:58 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013

Charlotte airport commission supporters claim tampering

By Scott Wickersham

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —


Supporters of the airport commission said Charlotte's friends in Washington are tampering with the battle over the airport.

On Monday, airport commission attorney Richard Vinroot sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration admonishing the agency for a lack of communication, saying the FAA "has taken the astounding step of refusing to engage the commission in any discussions regarding the airport."

Vinroot implied the influence of former mayor Anthony Foxx, who now oversees the FAA, is the reason why.

"I take him at his word that he would not get involved. But I don't see that in terms of action by the FAA. It appears clear to me the FAA has a very cozy relationship with the city attorney," said Vinroot.

And Sen. Bob Rucho is accusing the city of trying to use the airport as a piggy bank, ruining its competitive edge.

"One planned raid on the piggy bank was city leadership's desire to locate streetcar facilities on airport property as a way to use its funds," Rucho said.

City Councilman Andy Dulin said Rucho is wrong.

City Councilman Warren Cooksey calls it a "misrepresentation."

He said the Metropolitan Transit Commission floated the idea because the 2030 transit plan calls for streetcar to run to the airport.

And city leaders said Jerry Orr himself was fine with that option.

Dulin said all these accusations are a sign of desperation from commission supporters.

"I'm disappointed that former mayor Vinroot is fighting his city like this on a bad case" says Dulin.

On Wednesday, Charlotte City Attorney Bob Hagemann declined to comment on what Vinroot said about his "cozy" relationship and said he's respecting the FAA process and waiting for their decision.

The FAA is being tipped-lipped about a timeline for its decision.

Insiders said they believe it may not be resolved until early next year.

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