Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

JAA Appoints Interim CEO, Gets Federal Money

Jim McCollum, a former BellSouth Regional Director and current member of the JAA Board, has been appointed by the JAA Board to serve as Interim CEO until a permanent replacement has been hired.  JAA also announced that they have “approved the establishment of a Cecil Field Development Policy that allows the JAA to offer special considerations, such as lease concessions and incentives, to help stimulate development at Cecil Field during this difficult economic environment. The policy will be in place for five years or until such time the U.S. economy and financial markets have demonstrated a trend of recovery – whichever comes first.”

In addition, the Board announced that they will appropriate $1.5 million dollars in order to receive matching federal stimulus grants of $4.6 million for airport improvement projects at Jacksonville International Airport.  The specific projects have yet to be identified, but JAA management will report to the Board before awarding any contracts.


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Indy Media Takes on John Clark

John Clark’s “baggage”, as the Indianapolis Business Journal put it, “has arrived before him.”  Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Bishop has a priceless quote in the article that can be found here.

The man nominated to be CEO of the Indianapolis Airport Authority has been a polarizing figure in Jacksonville, where he’s been CEO of the Florida city’s aviation authority since 2001. 

During that time, Clark amassed a long list of critics — ranging from the city council to airport police to neighborhood residents in the path of a proposed runway extension. 

Jacksonville’s alternative newspaper, Folioweekly, in November published a scathing article about Clark, painting him as a big spender with little regard for authority.

Recently named chairman of the North American division of Airports Council International, Clark has flown around the world for ACI conferences, at the airport authority’s expense. 

According to the newspaper, Clark has flown to Shanghai, Brussels, Frankfort, Paris, London and Buenos Aires in the past two years, racking up expensive hotel bills, including a $726-per-night room in Buenos Aires and $582 room in Paris. His trip to the London Air Show cost the authority $10,491 and his trip to Shanghai cost $11,304.

“I’ve said on several occasions I’d be happy to write him a letter of recommendation, if it got him a job somewhere else,” said Bill Bishop, a Jacksonville architect and city councilman who helped stop Clark and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority from extending a runway into a residential area.
Hours after the Indianapolis Airport Authority announced Clark’s selection on March 10, bloggers who had “Googled” his name starting having a field day questioning the authority’s CEO pick.

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Adios, John Clark

We’ve discussed his high salary and benefits here and here, and we’ve finally found another city that wants him. John Clark is headed to Indianapolis. Apparently, being the highest paid airport executive in Florida and Georgia wasn’t quite enough. Let’s hope JAA’s Board can negotiate a more reasonable salary and benefits package for the next Executive Director.

He can now travel to Hong Kong on someone else’s dime.

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JIA Slower, Clark to cut salary?

Jacksonville “International” [We don’t have any international flights, folks] Airport has announced that traffic was down 5% in 2008. According to the Business Journal, cargo also decreased 6% and available seats decreased by 14%. What has increased at Jacksonville Regional Airport? Executive Director John Clark’s salary.

In contrast to a 5% decrease in traffic, 6% decrease in cargo and 14% fewer available seats, John Clark earned his annual 5% pay increase to top off his base salary of $241,000. Oh, and let’s not forget his $72,300 bonus; his $10,200 car allowance; his $9,000 cell phone allowance; his $15,000 retirement contribution and his membership at his choice of the University Club or the River Club.

It’s always interesting when an executive’s salary continues to increase while his business is declining, particularly when the executive is laying off employees. We are still awaiting word on whether or not Mr. Clark’s salary will be decreased to reflect the downturn in his business. (Of course, a decrease shouldn’t hurt him too much. His salary remains higher than his counterparts at true international airports such as Miami, Tampa, Orlando or Atlanta.) Somehow I don’t expect the answer to be coming anytime soon…

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JAA and John Clark in new controversy

Jacksonville International [No we don’t have any international flights] Airport’s police are appealing to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to absorb their department, thereby removing them from under the dictatorial powers of high-flying John Clark, whose extravagant expenses and mind-boggling pay were previously discussed here. According to the Times-Union, a new bill is being introduced today that would require Sheriff John Rutherford and John Clark to discuss the merger. More can be learned here.

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Cashin’ In at the JAA

Folio Weekly has a top-notch expose out this week on John Clark, the head of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.  Serving as the head of an independent agency is quite lucrative—at least in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mr. Clark’s compensation ranks him as the highest paid airport executive in the state, even higher than Atlanta’s airport.  (And, in case you are wondering, Jacksonville comes nowhere close to competing with Atlanta, Miami or Orlando in terms of volume.)  According to Folio, Mr. Clark’s compensation includes:

  • Base salary of $241,000 (with an automatic 5% annual increase through 2012)
  • $850 monthly car allowance
  • $750 monthly cell phone/business expense allowance ($50 annual increase)
  • 100% coverage of health insurance premiums
  • Membership dues to the River Club or University Club
  • $15,000 annual retirement contribution
  • Business travel expenses, as needed, which included such things as $10,491 to attend this year’s London Air Show and $11,304 to attend an Airports Council International meeting in Shanghai

Folio pointed out that Mr. Clark recently ordered staff cuts at JIA, presumably to preserve the 30% operating margin that triggers an automatic 30% bonus payout to him ($72,300).  The City Council, particularly Clay Yarborough, Glorious Johnson and Bill Bishop, appear to have taken an interest in reigning in JAA by attempting to restrict his dictatorial powers to move around his budget.  With JAA operating at such impressive margins, perhaps its time for it to start contributing to the City’s general fund, much like another independent authority (the JEA) does…

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