Cassie MacDuff

10:00 PM PDT on Friday, September 30, 2011

Cassie MacDuff

The retirement, resignation or whatever you want to call it of Don Rogers as executive director of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority is an opportunity for the oversight board to get a grip.

For too long, the board — made up of elected officials from San Bernardino County and cities near the airport — has rubber-stamped whatever Rogers recommended in multimillion-dollar contracts on the former Norton Air Force Base.

For too long, it enabled Rogers to hand over the keys to convicted felon Scot Spencer, until Spencer controlled virtually every aspect from hangar-leasing to airport management to construction to maintenance.

Rogers’ cozy relationship with Spencer (settling a lawsuit in Spencer’s favor, for example, within days of receiving it), and the board’s lax oversight, were two key criticisms in a June 30 grand jury report.

Rogers should have been out the door then, months before the FBI swooped in Sept. 21 and carted off computers, hard drives and documents in search of evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Rogers knew his days were numbered last spring as the grand jury wrapped up its two-year investigation.

He offered to resign April 26 in a letter that touted the giant warehouses put up on surrounding land by master-developer Hillwood. The resignation was to be effective Aug. 31.

But a few days before he was to step down, Rogers withdrew the resignation because the board had made no move to replace him.

One can only speculate what kinds of conversations went on behind closed doors when the board held an emergency meeting two days after the FBI raid.

Closed-session talks are secret. But the agenda didn’t suggest termination or even discipline of Rogers was to be considered. It would have had to be posted for the board to discuss it legally.

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