Viewpoint: Why is the mayor waiting?

Viewpoint: Why is the mayor waiting?

By Joe Baker

Why is the

mayor waiting?

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

In the wake of the disaster in New York and Washington, it is difficult to consider more mundane matters. Yet, there are continuing local issues that need to be addressed.

The question being asked by more than a few people about our airport is: Why isn’t Mayor Scott doing something about James Loomis? It’s a query we reiterate.

Here is an individual who is paid more than the mayor, who stubbornly insists that the only future of the Rockford airport is cargo flights.

He says this while other airports, like Memphis and Bloomington, are viable and growing in passenger volume and income. They are vital to the economy of their regions. Rockford, on the other hand, is just sitting here. Cargo does not boost the local economy.

There are airlines out there which, with the proper approach and marketing, would provide passenger service to this airport. So long as Loomis is in place, that isn’t going to happen. He has demonstrated he will extend little support to attempts to provide passenger flights in Rockford. Why didn’t he go to Memphis, Bloomington and Ontario with the Greater Rockford Transportation Coalition? All of those cities’ airport directors met our delegates, and our airport director was not with them.

In addition to disdaining passenger flights, Loomis has cut back on security. What if we had a smaller-scale incident of Tuesday’s national tragedies at this airport? Would he respond with his two-man crash crew?

No doubt there are efforts behind the scenes to persuade some airlines to serve Rockford. We say again, what are you waiting for, Mayor?

We could find a real airport director if we made a serious effort to do so. There are some out there who could take this airport and turn it into a going concern. They could make it self-sustaining.

Loomis can obviously bring cargo carriers to Rockford, but who wants to travel in a box? Taxpayers want to fly out of what they are paying for, or are we just support drones for cargo companies?

While we’re at it, what’s wrong with the airport board? Is it still just a good ol’ boys club? What have they done to promote Greater Rockford Airport? Are they there just as political payback by the mayor and the county board chairman?

So far, they have behaved like robots under Loomis’ control. When he gets caught off base, all they do is slap his wrist. Let’s get some better qualified types on that board and make some changes.

That’s the reason Memphis has been more successful; there’s very little politics involved in its operation. In Winnebago County, however, the chief interest is slicing the pie, not creating more pies.

Changes are in the wind for O’Hare Airport, but we can’t rely on O’Hare to send its spill-over flights to Rockford. We have to get after other providers to bring their flights to this city.

In the interim, we call on the mayor to take some action and for the airport board to stop sitting back and enjoying the perks and do its job. The airport board of directors should be called on the carpet by Mayor Scott, Chairman Cohn, Mayor Lindberg, Village President Linda Vaughn—they appoint the board members—make them act and make them answerable.

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