I have followed four Fairhope city councils and one thing I can tell you is with each new council several things became abundantly clear. The new members of the council are usually influenced by longer serving members. However, the newer members are usually kept in the dark as to the backstory involving long-term issues concerning the city. Another observation was the utter lack of transparency and accountability. I give our previous Mayor full credit for using the aforementioned tactics.
Fairhope’s last mayor doubled down and refused to cooperate in any transition with the new Mayor. Consider for a moment what a daunting task it must be to become Mayor with no cooperation from the previous administration and virtually no information about city operations, until you are sworn in. Then consider that a couple of council members who survived the last election wear the same hat as the defeated Mayor.
Fairhope has elected a Mayor who ran a campaign on a platform of transparency, accountability and the elimination of conflict of interests in hiring and city contracts. She will be faced with the effects of decisions made in her absence. These are deals and contracts that have more red flags than the Soviet Union.
The Shux restaurant on the Municipal Pier, a contract of 30 years, is a glaring example. Another is the triangle lawsuit settlement, among others.
Several weeks ago I was given information, by concerned citizens and city employees, regarding a lease involving the Fairhope Airport Authority.
This will be the first of multiple related articles; and, as we glean more information, we will keep you informed. I will submit my findings and allegations to Mayor Wilson and to the City Council and request that they make a complete investigation and report in a timely manner to the citizens of the community.
The Airport Authority has a Board of Directors who are supposed to handle Airport contracts leases and general business. Airport business sometimes involves millions of dollars and the members are entrusted with confidential information.
Please see related article:
Fairhope Airport Authority to accept $2.9 Million in grant funding
FAIRHOPE — The Fairhope City Council accepted a resolution at last week’s council meeting for the Fairhope Airport Authority to accept $2.9 million in grant funding for the construction of an …
A request for proposal ( RFP ) is a type of bidding solicitation in which a company or organization announces that funding is available for a particular project or program, and companies can place bids for the project’s completion. These proposals can take weeks or months to properly construct.
The Airport Authority sent out an RFP on September 21, 2015 and had a submittal date of October 13, 2015. This was only 22 days? The next step was an RFP opening of the bids October 20, 2015. This was for a ground lease for a commercial hanger on plat 2, a second commercial hanger. October minutes of the Airport Authority reflect
”Vince Boothe and Jack Burrell were appointed to a committee to review the bids and make a recommendation for awarding the bid at the Authority’s meeting in November.”
Three bids were submitted.
The November 17th minutes address the recommendation/approval of ground lease for commercial hanger on plat 2:
“Before there was any discussion of the committee recommendation Ray Hix recuse himself and left the room.”
Mr. Hix is on the Airport Authority Board and a member of the Airport Operations Committee.
“Jack Burrell went over the material that he and Vince Boothe used to select the winning bidder for the hanger on plat 2. There was an open question and answer discussion for all attending. Afterward Jack Burrell made a motion to award the bid to Hix/Snedecker Companies DBA Mid-Bay Air,llc subject to approval of the State Ethics Commission. There was a second by Vince Booth and unanimously carried.”
Mr Snedecker is the Fairhope Municipal judge. On Dec. 17, 2015 the memorandum of lease was recorded.
Please let this marinate in you mind: Jack Burrell, the President of the Fairhope City Council, is also on the Airport Authority, and on the committee reviewing and making the motion to accept the Mid Bay bid.
This motion was seconded by the same board member who assisted Mr Burrell in the review process— Vince Boothe. Mr Hix, an Airport Authority Board member, who is privileged to confidential information of the board and associate member of Jack Burrell, was awarded the bid along with his partner Mr Snedecker, the Fairhope Municipal Judge.
Please tell me who in this picture was not connected with the city or Airport Authority?
The answer is the other two bidders.
Think about that.
If it was a legitimate ethical bid, Mr. Hix would have resigned from the Airport Board to pursue his business interest and Judge Snedecker would have been cleared by the ethics commission well prior to any bid opening. To simply recuse yourself from the board is not acceptable. The board itself should have seen the obvious conflict and all recuse themselves from voting on an associate of the board and most likely a friend. Mr. Burrell’s actions suggest a cozy inside deal protected by the then acting Mayor. He should resign his positions until a full investigation is conducted.
The litmus test for the new council is, would you do this?
Because if you would, YOU DON’T KNOW JACK.
This sweetheart deal is exactly why we elected a new Mayor and three new council members.
Another interesting fact is that the Lease is recorded as a memorandum of lease, which is a simple memorandum— not a lease and operating agreement which spells out the specifics of the lease. This has been required of all leases at the Airport, and the Mid Bay lease is 30 years long.
Who attended the awarding of the bid and where are the Ethics Letters?
Who are the other bidders and their history in the aviation field and what was their estimate of construction completion?
Midbay has yet to start construction.
Many questions come to mind that cannot be answered until obtaining further information which the Ripp Report will do through a FOIA, freedom of information, request from Fairhope.
One question that will not be answered by a FOIA request is, does Mr Burrell have any business interests with either Mr. Hix or Mr. Snedecker or does his personal occupation have any conflicts with his political position?
To the new members of the city council I say this is not what we expect of you, watch your back because;
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK