Airport: O’Brien rumor mill starts
By Jim Hagerty
A few hours after the announcement that Bob O’Brien has stepped down as executive director of the Chicago Rockford International Airport, sources told The Rock River Times officials have named his replacement.
According to several sources, Mike Dunn, who is currently working for the city and county as the regional director of government affairs, will take over the airport helm.
However, Dunn, as of Wednesday evening, said he knows nothing about being named O’Brien’s replacement.
“I’ve haven’t had that conversation with anyone,” Dunn said. “In fact, you are catching me off guard. I’ve been with the mayor and county board chairman all day and they didn’t mention anything like that to me. Right now, I work for the county board chairman and the mayor. ”
Dunn did say he has been following what’s been happening at the airport and is aware that O’Brien has resigned.
“I’ve been away from the airport for about a year now,” Dunn said. “I am disappointed at what’s happening. But, like I said, as far as my involvement now, I haven’t spoken to anyone. If something develops there, I will certainly let you know.”
Dunn spent eight years as an airport commissioner. He was chairman of the board for six years before resigning last April.
O’Brien resigned, along with Board Chairman Brian Boyer, after a reportedly heated meeting Tuesday night.
O’Brien’s resignation is effective Thursday, March 31.
Meantime, longtime airport employee Franz Olson, has been appointed as acting executive director. Bharat Puri, nephew of First Rockford Group Founder and President Sunil Puri, will chair the board in the absence of Boyer.
Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) issued the following statement March 30: “I want to thank Chairman Boyer for his service to the Airport Authority Board. I also want to thank Executive Director Bob O’Brien for his hard work and dedication to RFD over the past nine years. His leadership has helped grow passenger air service and air cargo development. Perhaps most importantly, Director O’Brien helped build awareness to our community and beyond about what an important asset and economic engine the Chicago Rockford International Airport is to our future.
“Both Chairman Boyer and Executive Director O’Brien have been valuable contributors to building a solid foundation at RFD,” Morrissey’s statement continued. “I expect the existing staff and board of the Airport Authority will continue to build on this foundation to increase air passenger and air cargo service and related development.”
Attempts to reach Puri and Winnebago County Scott Christiansen (R) were unsuccessful.
The Rock River Times will have more on this story as it develops.
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