Cassie MacDuff

10:00 PM PDT on Monday, September 26, 2011

Cassie MacDuff

The FBI raid on San Bernardino International Airport last Wednesday concerned enough people to pack the room where a special meeting of the airport authority board was held late Friday afternoon.

The agenda called for public comments to occur first.

Instead, San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris — the board’s president — announced the order would be reversed: The board would go into closed session first.

A restless crowd was kept waiting nearly two hours, the latest show of disrespect for the public by the San Bernardino International Airport Authority.

The redevelopment agency already operates behind a virtually opaque veil.

The board meets in public but seldom discusses matters publicly, leaving the impression the board is merely a rubberstamp for the executive director.

Agendas and minutes aren’t posted on the agency’s website. And no one answers the phone number listed as the way to contact staff.

Agency lawyer Karen Feld said the board met in closed session first to get its lawyers’ advice before responding to public comments.

So why not explain that before disappearing behind closed doors?

Better yet, why not let people have their say first, and board members respond after the closed session?

At least that way the audience wouldn’t have felt it was snubbed deliberately.

When the board finally emerged, Morris read a brief statement saying the raid hadn’t compromised airport operations, business would return to normal Monday and bills would be paid.

To call it an anti-climax is an understatement.

Nearly 80 federal, state and county investigators last week swarmed airport headquarters and the offices and home of its controversial developer Scot Spencer, seeking evidence of bribery, theft and fraud.

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