Edelen predicts 'some pain' in battle over CVG airport board

08/28/2014 11:55 AM

Changing the geographic and political power structure of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport board won’t come without “some pain”, says state Auditor Adam Edelen.

Edelen wrapped up a nine-month special investigation into the governance of the CVG board and called on a major restructuring of the appointees less than one week ago.

In an interview with Pure Politics on Wednesday, Edelen said there will be a fight with entrenched political leaders in the region for who controls the airport.

“Certainly they don’t call them good ole boys because they’re powerless. There is a good ole boy culture in Northern Kentucky which would like to maintain the status quo,” Edelen said.

Currently the Kenton County Judge Executive controls the selection process of the 11 board members, but Edelen is proposing to spread out the selections across northern Kentucky counties and give three positions to Ohio lawmakers.

Calling the board structure a model for “shared responsibility”, Edelen said Ohioans have skin-in-the-game with more fliers coming from their side of the river.

“While it’s clear that CVG is and should remain a Kentucky asset certainly Ohio which supplies two-thirds of the fliers out of that airport ought to have a voice,” Edelen said. “There ought to be a way, in my view, that binds the two governors in the political leadership on both sides of the river to promoting this important economic asset.”

To change the airport board structure, the Kentucky General Assembly will have to change a statute in the 2015 session but no legislation has been crafted. Edelen said the bill should be drafted by a northern Kentucky legislator.

“I’ve offered a path forward with specific recommendations, but really the political leadership in northern Kentucky is going to have to come together try to form some consensus about how do we design a system of shared responsibility,” he said.

The Kentucky Enquirer , who first reported the board’s travel and entertainment expenses, wrote that Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, indicated a tough road ahead for the bill.

Thayer and Edelen have clashed before on legislation proposed by the auditor, but Edelen said he likes Thayer and that he two have always been able to reach an accord.

“It has been my experience in the past that Senator Thayer when given an opportunity to do big things is willing to do it,” Edelen said adding there are other players in the region to consider too.

“The truth is I personally like Damon Thayer a lot. We don’t agree on much — but he’s a hard guy not to like. Listen, we’ve had our ups and downs but my guess is he’ll be around for a while and I think I’m going to be around for a while,” he said.

Edelen has called for the following officials to have the power to appoint members:

- Three appointments by Kenton Co. Judge-exec., with confirmation by fiscal court – Two appointments by Boone Co. Judge-exec., with confirmation by fiscal court – One appointment by Campbell Co. judge-exec., with confirmation by fiscal court – Two appointments by Kentucky governor – One appointment by Ohio governor – One appointment by mayor of Cincinnati, with confirmation by city council – One appointment by Hamilton Co., Ohio Board of Commissioners


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