Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said, the Jackson-Megar Wiley Evers International Airport is operated by a highly qualified team of professionals headed by a CEO with more than 30 years of experience. At a new conference yesterday, Johnson says the airport is operating in the black and he's reviewed the legislative bill that would take control of the board away from the City of Jackson.
"It leaves us with no other conclusion for the motivation behind this takeover, but race," said Johnson.
Republican Senator Josh Harkins of Flowood, authored the bill. It would replace the five member Jackson Municipal Airport Authority with a nine member regional board. The new board would consist of representatives from Madison and Rankin Counties, the Mississippi Army National Guard and the state development authority. Harkins says he isn't questioning the expertise of the board, but wants more regional input.
"Why is there not a pilot on the board? Why is there not anybody with any aviation experience on the board? This is an airport we're talking about running. This is not any other kind of business or non-profit," said Harkins.
Derrick Johnson. "The question for me is, why the power grab now? We have justice court judges who only have a high school diploma and yet they're handing down laws. We have school board members who aren't even required to have a high school diploma to serve as a school board member," said Johnson.
Senator Harkins says a regional board would result in more economic development, which would benefit the City of Jackson. He says the city would continue to receive the sales and property taxes.