Airport Director Resigns Under Pressure From City Commissioner <


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Airport Director Resigns Under Pressure From City Commissioner

Shane Nolan

April 30, 2010 - Winter Haven Airport Director Cheryl Connor has submitted her letter of resignation to Dale Smith City Manager. Connor states her reason is due to unwarranted behavior from City Commissioner Jamie Beckett, "continual interference with airport operations and management is intolerable." Connor has ten years experience with Winter Haven Airport.  

The city's charter prohibits commissioners from interfering with city employees. The charter states, "the commission and its members shall deal with the administrative service solely through the city manager and neither the commission nor any member thereof shall give orders to, nor make requests of, any of the subordinates of the city manager, either publicly or privately”.

Airport Director Cheryl Connor on the left and Commissioner Jamie Beckett on the right  


“Commissioner Beckett has made it impossible for me to do my job and comply with our grant assurances with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Florida Department of Transportation. I have been put in the position of being asked to fight the FAA and FOOT regarding our grant assurances despite several e-mails from FAA and FOOT rendering their rulings. 

“Commissioner Beckett said that we do not need FAA/FDOT money and that they can't tell us what to do. Without grants from FAA/FDOT the airport cannot operate. If we violate the grant assurances, FAA and FOOT have warned us that they will cut off our grants (meaning losing millions of dollars) and they might ask the City to pay back millions of dollars in grant money. 

“Commissioner Beckett insisted that we allow camping under the wings during Sun n Fun and have available showers and commodes for the campers despite the objections of an airport committee member that told him no one will use the showers and we should discourage campers because they don't invest money in Winter Haven by using our restaurants, motels, car rentals, etc. The shower/commode trailer cost the City over $2,500, Since no one camped nor used the shower facility, it was a waste of tax payers money. 

“Commissioner Beckett told me that he has a family member that is getting flight instruction from an airport tenant and the family member washes the aircraft of the instructor. Flight instruction costs thousands of dollars and this creates the obvious appearance of a conflict of interest. 


“In my opinion, the continual interference with airport operations and management is intolerable and places airport management in a very difficult position with FAA and FOOT, Mr, Beckett has said publically that he applied for the Airport Manager's job a few years ago and did not get an interview. In my opinion, he is trying to manage the airport as a commissioner.

“I will not sacrifice my integrity and go against promises the City made to FAA and FDOT in our Correction Action Compliance Plan so I regretfully tender my resignation as of May 14, 2010 (two weeks notice). If you will accept my resignation immediately, that will be better for me”. 

Winter Haven Municipal Airport (KGIF) is located in the central portion of Polk County Florida. The airport is owned and operated by the City of Winter Haven and provides a full-range of corporate, business and general aviation services to the surrounding community. The airport serves approximately 85,000 people residing in Winter Haven, Auburndale and Lake Alfred. Aviation services include flight training, aircraft fueling, maintenance, rental, sales and courtesy vehicle.
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