January 26, 2016 12:06 PM | Bob Minter (Administrator)

*Preface – All blogs tagged “MY OPINION” are just that! They do not represent an opinion of others and are not a statement or position of the Tennessee Aviation Association.

MY OPINION* - “Tennessee Airports New Best Friend”

When the General Assembly passed PC #462 last year, which established an Aviation Task Force to explore how to deal with the funding reduction involving the Transportation Equity Fund, I was skeptical. Task Forces in this context are usually “paper tigers” and this one may still be but I think most of us who have attended the Task Force meetings in preparation for the current legislative session are impressed with the gentleman who served as its Chairman.

Tennessee’s Economic & Community Development Commissioner, Randy Boyd approached the task of chairing the Task Force with zeal. He visited a bunch of general aviation airports in advance of the meetings and engaged those who manage them. He’s a bright guy with a great personality… easy to talk with, and apparently has a refreshingly open mind. He was genuinely interested, wanted to learn all he could and those he spoke with were justifiably impressed. He brought that same enthusiasm to the Task Force meetings and used his staff to do some helpful and necessary research to assist the process. I really think this gentleman “gets it” in terms of the importance and value of our system of general aviation airports in Tennessee, and the absolute need to fund them properly. Arguably, he should, as our state’s chief jobs builder and new industry salesman. And, I have not detected an ounce of arrogance in Commissioner Boyd! Refreshing!

One of my pet “peeves” is a palpable arrogance within governmental bureaucracies these days. And it isn’t all from Washington. Some seem to believe that they are the center of a particular industry universe. When I “served” in state government we viewed ourselves as “a service agency” to local governments who needed help improving, maintaining and developing their local airport. We weren’t arrogant at all; we were “partners”! I am a strong believer of “government of and by the people” starting at home! Those “serving” as governmental employees need to be reminded that the operative word is “serving”!

While I am venting, another of my peeve’s is that when the legislature or when a state agency needs industry information (aviation in our case) they tend to turn to each other… to another state governmental entity. They apparently believe that the sought after expertise resides within these government departments. That is often a seriously misguided theory. It may be born of simple laziness because it is easier that seeking information from people in the industry who aren’t in the State Telephone Book. To be fair, that may be our fault. We need to be more connected with our government; the legislature and the agencies we have to work with. We need to make them aware of who to call when they need information and when they do call, we need to make sure we provide the facts, not opinion!

I hope that one positive result of the Aviation Task Force will be better connections and communications with the legislature and our own bureaucracy. There is a lot of aviation industry expertise in Tennessee and I believe Commissioner Boyd knows that. I honestly believe that he is truly “aviation’s new best friend”. Hopefully, the Governor will listen to him. I want to believe he will!