County won’t fill airport commission seats

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Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission chairman Bob Rosenbaum, right, tells the Dukes County Commission he can wait for two new members until January. That's Richard Knabel, another airport commissioner, to his left. - Rich Saltzberg

At their May 1 meeting, the Dukes County Commissioners voted 6-0-1 to leave two recently vacated seats on the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission vacant until Jan. 20. Commissioner John Alley abstained from the vote. Airport commissioners Clarence “Trip” Barnes and Rich Michelson each recently resigned, which brought the subject of their seats onto the county agenda.

Ahead of the vote, commission chairman Gretchen Tucker Underwood asked airport commission chairman Bob Rosenbaum if the airport would function well until January if overseen by a commission of five, as opposed to seven. “We have been running fine on five,” he said.

“I just want to ask the reason behind it,” Alley said.

“I think that based on the information we’ve received from the chair of the airport commission, things are functioning fine without filling these seats,” commissioner Christine Todd said. “For us to properly address this with the way we’ve done it in the past it would require advertising again, setting up interview processes again, only to have to turn around and do it again in January. So I don’t see the point if things are functioning well now to have this process take place twice …”

Commissioner Tristan Israel was also on board with waiting. “I think just because of the amount of time, energy, and politics that ends up being involved in all this, I think it makes total sense to wait for January,” Israel said.

“Let me just say this,” commissioner Leon Brathwaite said, “we’re in a very unique position. It’s unique because we have two vacancies. If we only had one, we would have to fill it so they would not have an odd number of members.”

After further deliberation, the commissioners brought the matter to a vote.