Guest Column: Havens’ editorial ‘mean-spirited’

Guest Column: Havens’ editorial ‘mean-spirited’

By James H. Powers

I want to comment on Jeff Havens’ Nov. 20 editorial about the airport, using the building-blocks of his editorial as my terms of reference:

l “The source” The problem with “the source” is that we know nothing about him, including his identity, expertise, credibility and motivation. I also am “a source,” but at least I have the courage to sign my name at the end of this, enabling others who know me to judge whether my counsel should be seriously considered. Many have noticed a culture of openness that has come about at the airport since Bob O’Brien took charge. O’Brien comes to virtually any meeting to which he is invited, he speaks openly and convincingly, and he has dialogue with all who are there. This new environment is refreshingly open, honest, and filled with two-way dialogue. Given that, I cannot understand why any “source” could not participate in the dialogue—submit questions, offer opinions—just like the rest of us!

l The Kiehl Hendrickson Group Airport Survey As an interested citizen, I attended the Airport Commission meeting when the out briefing was given on this study. As I recall, the briefer apologized that less than 33 percent of the targeted travel agencies responded. This lack of response was especially pronounced for the agencies between Rockford and O’Hare, precisely the counties where we can compete with O’Hare, because of our passenger-friendly environment! Further, many individuals and businesses book their travel via the Internet. I do! My point is, O’Brien’s leisure and business surveys are needed!

l Scientific Surveys O’Brien does not want a scientific survey. He wants as many respondents as possible to show the airlines the seriousness of the market place to support service here. The destination info is to a certain level secondary.

l Joel Cowan and Governor-elect Blagojevich No doubt Cowan and the Governor-elect have expertise in certain fields, but those do not include running an airport. Despite that, Havens uses Cowan to comment on the appropriateness of an airport name and the Midway Airport threat; he makes Orlando a destination-imperative merely because Blago used it as an example destination. (By the way, O’Brien is working on Orlando as a destination!) I do respect Blago’s perceptions regarding an individual’s leadership ability. During the campaign, I heard him specifically mention O’Brien and Rockford’s good fortune to have him as airport director during this critical period of rebuilding. Apparently, Havens missed those comments! Or, perhaps he merely discarded them because they did not “fit” his synthesis of discredit.

The airport director is an appropriate target for media scrutiny and editorial comment. But not in the mean-spirited manner of Havens’ editorial.

James H. Powers is a member of the Greater Rockford Transportation Coalition.

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