By Josh Dulaney, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 09/28/2011 03:34:06 PM PDT

Donald L. Rogers, the executive director of San Bernardino International Airport Authority, announced his retirement Wednesday at a meeting of the authority’s board in Loma Linda.

His announcement comes shortly after the FBI began an investigation into operations at the airport.

Rogers initially informed county Supervisor Josie Gonzales and San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris of his decision to retire in an April 26 letter.

In that letter, Rogers, 71, wrote that his resignation would be effective Aug. 31, saying:

“It has been my pleasure to serve as executive director for both the IVDA and SBIAA for the past 8 years. This amazing development opportunity has been very special for me, and I truly appreciate
Don L. Rogers, 71

Rogers rose to assume executive director duties at the airport after T. Milford Harrison — who served as the airport’s executive director for two years — was let go in 2002.

At the time, the airport’s top job was filled on an interim basis by a trio of men who were negotiating with Texas-based Hillwood Investments to become master developer of the San Bernardino International Airport.

Rogers, a CPA, along with the late real estate developer William Leonard and attorney Tim Sabo, were those men.

Rogers led that team.

Rogers, Sabo and Leonard previously negotiated a deal with Hillwood Investments for the Inland Valley Development Agency land around the airport.

Rogers ultimately became the interim executive director of the IVDA and the airport, a role he stayed in until his resignation Wednesday.

“It has been my pleasure to serve as executive director for both the IVDA and SBIAA for the past 8 years. This amazing development opportunity has been very special for me, and I truly appreciate the confidence shown in me by the members of the boards of both agencies, over the many years.”

In a letter to the Inland Valley Development Agency and San Bernardino International Airport Authority boards on Wednesday – from which he read at the dais – Rogers said that since the Airport Authority had not taken action near the end of August, he had previously offered to continue a few more months until his replacement could be found:

“I now think the process will proceed faster, and that it will be in the best interests of the IVDA if I retire now,” Rogers wrote. “Therefore, effective at 5 p.m. today, I hereby retire from the position of executive director of both agencies. My assistant director, Mike Burrows, can continue operations until an interim director or replacement executive director can be located.”

Gonzales, who is a member of the SBIAA board, and who co-chairs the IVDA board, offered “no comment” when asked if the Airport Authority pressured Rogers to resign.

Morris, who presides over the Airport Authority board, said it had been Rogers’ intention for months to retire.

He said Rogers helped the board redevelop a blighted World War II air base into a logistical center and asset.

As to Rogers’ successor, and whether Burrows would take the position, Morris said, “He may well be applying. I have not discussed that with him. He is certainly free to apply.”

Burrows was not immediately available for comment after the meeting.

Rogers made his public announcement one week after federal agents served search warrants at the airport and at the Riverside home of airport developer Scot Spencer.

More than 80 FBI agents filled a 26-foot U-Haul truck with records – including computers and mobile phones – as part of an investigation into mail and wire fraud, bribery, conspiracy and money laundering, and theft and fraud related to federal funds.

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