Friday, December 21, 2012

Burke resigns from airport board

Hailey mayor says he might take city seat

Express Staff Writer

Martha Burke

City and county leaders said this week that the resignation of Hailey City Councilwoman Martha Burke from the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board will no doubt shake up the board’s leadership.

Burke’s resignation letter, dated Dec. 17, was given to the City Council and Mayor Fritz Haemmerle on Monday. The council voted to accept the resignation during its meeting Monday night, which Burke did not attend.

Burke’s letter said she was tendering her resignation due to “my recent comments made during the Dec, 4, 2012, FMAA meeting and the subsequent fallout they caused.”

Burke went on to say that she felt her “credibility and effectiveness” had been compromised as a result of her comments.

Haemmerle said he believes Burke was referring to her comments regarding the city of Hailey’s position on alternatives for the current airport site. Burke said during the meeting that the City Council had given her and other authority members Susan McBryant and Don Keirn strict guidance regarding which options they could and could not support.

“Unfortunately, we agree with you,” she told the board at that meeting. “We are not being allowed to compromise. We are being given direct guidance by our mayor and council members.”

Haemmerle said Burke had previously voted in favor of his letter that outlined which alternatives the city of Hailey would support—that is, that the city would only support very modest changes that would not move the runway or expand the airport outside its current boundaries.

“Martha supported that letter,” he said. “She gave an appearance that she didn’t support the letter [during the FMAA meeting], but she voted for it. The City Council members probably weren’t too happy with the fact that we all unanimously agreed to a letter that one of our representatives took to the FMAA and then didn’t agree with.”

McBryant, Hailey’s new senior representative, said Burke’s experience would be missed, but that the board likely would not suffer.

“It’s like any other board of directors,” she said. “People come and go all the time. You lose one set of assets and gain another.”

The City Council is set to appoint a new representative at its meeting on Jan. 7—and Haemmerle said he is interested in the position.

“It’s been far too long since the mayor of the town sat on the authority,” he said.

But Airport Authority member and County Commissioner Angenie McCleary said Burke’s resignation could impact the positions of vice chair and chair of the board. Burke was vice chair, and McCleary said Burke would have been a “natural” fit for the position of chair when new officers are elected on Jan. 9, as current Chair Tom Bowman also plans to step down from the board in the near future.

Bowman said he is sorry that the Hailey airport delegation would lose Burke’s “many years of valuable experience,” but added that her resignation does not affect his plans to step down after the January board meeting.

Kate Wutz:

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