Oops!

Thursday, August 13, 2015 – 10:30 a.m.

Finally! We taxpayers have a long-awaited admission from officials at the San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA).

A revealing article was published in Wednesdays edition of The Sun newspaper that finally delves into the reality surrounding beleaguered San Bernardino International Airport (SBIA).

The article, titled “Ontario ownership of airport won’t affect SBIA, experts say”, by Staff Writer Joe Nelson, focuses on the question of whether or not the restoration of local control of Ontario International Airport will affect the marketing of SBIA. The answers given were long in coming, and I’m sure they didn’t realize what they were admitting.

Here are a couple key excerpts from the article:

“I think when you look at the air industry itself, there’s enough room for both airports to thrive, except there will be different niches,” said county Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos, who is also the vice president of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority. “The local control of (LA/ONT) plays right into building this whole region up to become a region of destination.”

Bob Cable, owner Cable Airport in Upland and a commissioner on the San Bernardino County Airports Commission, said the airports in Ontario and San Bernardino and two entirely different entities with different operations, and doesn’t see Ontario gaining local control of its airport has having any real impact, either positively or negatively, on SBIA.

“They’re not apples and apples. They are apples and oranges,” Cable said.

Jack Keady, president of Keady Transportation Consulting in Playa del Ray, also believes operations at Ontario airport will not impact San Bernardino in any way. Ontario is only operating at 50 percent capacity, and improving that percentage will be its top priority, he said.

“The idea there will be any overflow into San Bernardino is pretty far-fetched,” Keady said.

All translated, the statements mean:

  • Taxpayers can forget about any commercial passenger traffic at SBIA.
  • Local officials have misled taxpayers for years about the facility’s prospects.
  • The $300 million officials voted to blow on the facility was a waste of taxpayer funds.
  • SBIA officials will now attempt to attract maintenance and general aviation activity to the facility.

Local officials should be ashamed of themselves. The $300 million could have used to improve infrastructure in surrounding neighborhoods and to attract other business to the area.

It wasn’t!

There’s no way officials can blame this debacle on Former Airport Developer Scot Spencer, who is charged with allegedly bilking SBIA out of $1.6 million by fraud.

To be blunt. Officials knew who Spencer was, and his background, when they hired him.

Former County Supervisor Dennis Hansberger, who voted to hire Spencer, even called him “uniquely qualified”.

While these very same officials have been hypnotized with a pipe dream, Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA), in Victorville, and March Air Reserve Base, in Moreno Valley, have already been successfully focused on the “niche” that SBIA now hopes to exploit.

For years, the Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA) has been giving SBIAA annual grants from local property tax increment to keep the facility on life support, and not to mention the dormant passenger terminal lights on, since the airport’s current business and lease income doesn’t come close to meeting expenses.

Current and former officials bear responsibility for this boondoggle, and taxpayers need to hold them accountable.

But then again. It’s not their money that went down a black hole!

It’s time for an apology.