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Friday, July 16, 2004


Feds rankle airport manager

Baird in tiff with Transportation Security Administration

Express Staff Writer

A tiff has developed between Friedman Memorial Airport manager Rick Baird and the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration, perhaps because the TSA’s bureaucratic right hand didn’t know what the bureaucratic left hand knew.

It began with a chilly, formal letter Baird received from Boise-based TSA official Julian Gonzales announcing an investigation into Baird’s failure to attend an Airport Security Coordinator class as required by the new airport security act.

In his letter, Gonzales wrote that on May 13, "Aviation Security Inspector Brian Walston. . . .discovered that the Friedman Memorial Airport has failed to train" Baird as the airport’s security coordinator.

Baird fired back an equally frosty letter to investigator Walston--with copies to Idaho’s U.S. Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson for good measure--that "it is important that we have a clear understanding of your ‘discovery.’"

He told Walston that in May he informed Pat Sepe, TSA’s resident airport security official for Friedman Memorial, that he would attend an ASC class when one is held closer to Idaho, "insofar as the requirement for formal ASC training was not funded by the TSA." Baird is a stickler for conserving expenses incurred by the Hailey airport.

The only four classes held so far for airport executives were one each in Minnesota and Rhode Island and two in Virginia.

Baird also noted in his letter:

"I am troubled by the fact that this has apparently turned into an investigation with apparent threatening ramifications. I am further troubled by the fact that Mr. Gonzales’ letter is the first indication I have received of this investigation that apparently was initiated on May 13, 204." Baird’s letter to Walston was sent June 11.

"I am every concerned that the sense of cooperation that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has on several occasions professed to me has deteriorated to this point," Baird stated.

The exchange of letters was included in the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority’s monthly meeting packet. But it was not discussed at the board’s meeting Tuesday, July 13, and Baird declined to discuss the abrasive spat any further.

However, during the board meeting, Baird told board members that the TSA had asked for office space in the airport terminal, which is to be expanded and renovated. TSA now has an office in a nearby industrial park.

Baird said he would discuss space for the TSA, provided it paid for it.

"TSA doesn’t pay for anything," Baird said dourly as an aside.


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