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Sedgwick County commissioner wants to resubmit Bob Weeks’ name for appointment to airport board

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, August 20, 2013, at 1:07 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, August 20, 2013, at 5:05 p.m.

At Commissioner Karl Peterjohn’s insistence, the Sedgwick County Commission will consider resubmitting the name of conservative blogger Bob Weeks for appointment to the airport advisory board.

The Wichita City Council voted 4-1 earlier this month to reject Weeks’ nomination to the board. The council, which holds final approval, approved four other appointments suggested by the commission.

“I want the full council on the record for the vote,” Peterjohn said Tuesday during the commissioners’ weekly meeting with county staff members.

Council members Pete Meitzner and Lavonta Williams were not present for the Aug. 6 vote. Jeff Blubaugh was the lone vote supporting Weeks’ appointment.

There was clear indication during Tuesday’s discussion that Peterjohn would have the votes necessary to resubmit Weeks’ name to the council. The commission is expected to vote on the matter on Sept. 4.

Each of the five commissioners is allowed to make one nomination for the 13-member airport advisory board. The whole commission votes on the nomination before submitting the name to the City Council.

Weeks was nominated by Peterjohn and approved by the commission.

Weeks speaks to the council regularly against public subsidies for private development. He has been a critic of the Affordable Airfares program, which offers subsidies to low-cost air carriers.

Peterjohn said he’s never heard of the City Council rejecting a recommendation from the commission.

“This was unprecedented,” he said. “Bob Weeks is a man of integrity. Second, he is one of the most intelligent men I’ve met.”

Commissioner Dave Unruh said he would vote for Weeks but added, “It’s a bad choice” to resubmit Weeks’ name.

“Why pick a fight? Why not pick someone else to nominate?” Unruh asked Peterjohn. “I’m sure he’s not the only intelligent person you know.”

“He’s at the top of my list,” Peterjohn replied.

Unruh said, “I don’t want to start an issue between city and county governments. The council clearly rejected Weeks. Do you think the vote will change?”

“It’s not going to change if we don’t try,” Peterjohn said.

Unruh and Commission Chairman Jim Skelton, a former City Council member, suggested that Peterjohn talk to council members individually before resubmitting Weeks’ name.

Peterjohn said Weeks needs to be on the airport advisory board to provide accountability.

He cited the controversy over last year’s bid award to Wichita’s Key Construction and Michigan-based Wallbridge for the new $100 million airport terminal. A lower bid was presented by Wichita’s Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co. and Indianapolis-based Hunt Construction.

City officials had ruled that the Dondlinger team didn’t make a good-faith effort to land enough disadvantaged business subcontractors for the project, which Dondlinger disputed.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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