Thursday, March 28, 2013 – 10:30 a.m.
I was stunned to read an online opinion editorial by County Supervisor James Ramos on Wednesday.
The op-ed titled “San Bernardino airport has a brighter future” published on The Sun newspaper website, and also in the print version, is bizarre to say the least.
It’s also and example of just how out-of-touch, and in denial, officials tied to San Bernardino International Airport really are.
In his op-ed, Ramos says
“As we move past the era of corruption at the San Bernardino International Airport, we can begin to move forward and look at expanding opportunities at our airport. It is vital to continue to support those businesses that have been successful during this economic downturn.”
Move past? Really? This whole debacle is just starting to unfold. The charging and arrest of airport project manager Scot Spencer, and associate Felice Luciano, is just the beginning.
No one, I repeat no one, blows $200 million of taxpayer money and it all just goes away with the arrest of two people. Particularly, two people who didn’t sign the checks or make the approvals.
But, for Ramos, the phrase “move past” is so true. Especially since Ramos’ Native American Tribe, The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, owns several acres of property adjacent to the airport. And any increase in the economic value of the airport would ultimately enhance the wealth of the San Manuel’s land holdings, and ultimately Ramos himself, as a profit-sharing member.
In his editorial, Ramos points to several businesses at or near the airport, but he inaccurately touts them all as being successes for the airport.
First, Ramos calls attention to renewed lease contracts for airport tenants Southern California Aviation Services, LLC and Jett Pro Line Maintenance, Inc.
But, what Ramos fails to discuss is the fact those two lease contract don’t even make a dent in the multi-million dollar annual operating loss at the airport.
Second, Ramos touts the Stater Bros. Markets warehouse as an airport success. But, in actuality, the whole endeavor could be viewed as a gift of public funds, when one takes into account the below-market real estate price, and millions of dollars in tax breaks, the privately-held, for profit, company received from the airport authority.
And finally, Ramos brings up the Kohl’s and Amazon.com distribution centers as another symbol of the airport’s successes. But those two developments come at the hands of the Inland Valley Development Agency, and more-importantly Hillwood Development, not the airport authority.
Ramos also forgot to mention the Pep Boys Auto Parts and Mattel Toys distribution centers. Both are successes for Hillwood.
Hiring Hillwood, a division of Texas-based Perot Industries, was the only smart idea to come out of the redevelopment of the vast project area surrounding the former Norton Air Force base.
Just a thought…..