Gary mayor’s chief of staff named interim airport director
BY MICHELLE L. QUINN Post-Tribune correspondent September 30, 2013 11:41PM
The terminal and control tower at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 2, 2013 6:14AM
GARY — Two weeks made all the difference, as the City of Gary’s chief of staff, Bridget “B.R.” Lane, was appointed unanimously Monday as interim airport director by the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority.
The first try at Lane’s appointment, on Sept. 20, failed in a 3-3 vote, with one member absent. Board Chairman Tom Collins Sr. explained after Monday’s Airport Authority meeting that the entire board hadn’t been made aware of Lane’s potential candidacy when they took the original vote.
Alesia Pritchett, Shontrai Irving and Denise Dillard voted for Lane, while Collins, James Cooper and Tom Cavanaugh voted against her. Member Michael Doyne was absent.
In a prepared statement, however, Collins seemed to now support the decision.
“The board has agreed to enter into an employment contract with B.R. Lane,” Collins read. “For over a year, B.R. has already been actively engaged with all parties on a local, state and federal level regarding airport issues, and she shares our major objectives, which are to complete the runway expansion, and to develop sustainable sources of revenue for the airport.”
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who supported Lane from the start, reiterated Lane’s credentials, including her familiarity with all the issues the airport faces, such as efforts to create a public-private partnership to manage the facility.
“We can always get someone who understands aviation, but to move us forward, she’s the best candidate,” Freeman-Wilson said.
Though the position is an interim one, Lane did become an official airport employee as of Monday. As such, Lane said she wasn’t sure whether she would return to her chief of staff position if the P3 entity decides to hire its own manager.
Freeman-Wilson said someone would likely fill in for Lane, but whether the appointment would be an internal or external hire hasn’t been determined.
Collins said he was unsure of the salary Lane would make as interim director but indicated it would be the same as previous Interim Director Steve Landry’s position. According to the City of Gary’s 2014 budget, Lane would’ve made $80, 039.80 as Chief of Staff.
Collins also said he didn’t know the details of paying a Florida-based search firm $30,000 the board approved in April to find a new director.