Wednesday, March 27, 2013 – 10:00 a.m.
Mayor Patrick Morris, the mayor of bankrupt San Bernardino, is still telling newspapers that San Bernardino International Airport (SBIA) will get a scheduled passenger airline.
Even though every competent aviation expert says that’s not going to happen.
Just read the story pubished in Wednesday’s edition of The Sun newspaper. What’s depicted in the article is outrageous, as are the excuses.
The dormant airport has been a black hole for local taxpayers. Sucking-up some $200 million in federal funding, combined with local property tax increment funneled from the Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA). The IVDA, which has been supporting the airport financially, is the agency tasked with redeveloping the project area surrounding the former Norton Air Force Base.
Some of the elected officials responsible for this debacle, in particular, County Supervisor Josie Gonzales, Former Loma Linda City Councilman Robert Christman and Morris, have started coming out of the woodwork to justify, and make excuses, for one of the most costly debacles in the county, and possibly the state.
Expect to hear from many, many others.
One can also expect Former County Supervisor Dennis Hansberger to come forward, with his all-knowing wisdom, to explain in his fatherly-like tone, why the board selected convicted felon Scot Spencer as the developer and project manager for the airport. Hansberger, in the past, referred to Spencer as being uniquely-qualified for the job.
Interestingly, Hansberger, to date, has been mysteriously quiet on the airport mess.
On Monday, Spencer and a second Associate, Felice Luciano, were charged with counts related to conspiracy to commit grand theft in the amount of $1.8 million from the airport.
Now these officials are putting forth the excuse that Spencer was all they could get in the recruitment to fill the position! That there was really no vast pool of candidates for the job.
That’s it! That’s the excuse for this mess? Spencer was really the only guy?
Could it be that maybe Spencer was the only person willing to tell the board what it wanted to hear? That fantasy being the former base could actually be transformed into an active civilian passenger airport. Even though a major regional airport, Ontario International, is just 30 minutes away. A regional airport, that itself, is struggling to attract flights.
Now were finding out from the aviation community that no truly serious candidate wanted the airport job, because the goal was destined for failure.
This worthless aircraft was used as collateral for a $500,000 taxpayer-funded loan.
Remember, this is the same airport authority board that loaned Spencer $500,000 using an aircraft as collateral, without an appraisal.
The county Assessor has valued that very same aircraft, for property tax purposes, as being worthless. An average person could look at the equipment and pretty much make the same conclusion.
The amazing part of this story is, that if the day comes that passengers were to depart from SBIA, there’s still a big problem.
Those passengers can’t depart from the existing multi-million dollar terminal because of its proximity to the maintenance hangars. A terminal that cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to renovate.
According to the newspaper, the airport has now embarked on a true feasibility story. What a concept!
There’s much more to come out of this Pandora’s box.