Wichita City Council rejects conservative blogger for airport advisory board

08/06/2013 5:46 PM

08/06/2013 5:48 PM

The Wichita City Council fired back against a longtime critic Tuesday, refusing the county commission’s suggested appointment of conservative blogger Bob Weeks to the airport advisory board.

The council voted 4-1, with Jeff Blubaugh opposed, to ask Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn to offer another name as a suggestion for the airport panel. The council, which holds final approval for nominations to the airport board, approved four other appointments suggested by the county commission. Council members Pete Meitzner and Lavonta Williams were not present for the vote.

Mayor Carl Brewer was clear after the meeting: The city wants a positive voice on the airport advisory board, which provides advice to the council on airport-related issues.

“We want someone who will participate, someone who will contribute,” Brewer said. “We want someone who will make Affordable Airfares better, who will make the airport better.

“You’ve seen what he does here,” Brewer went on, referencing Weeks’ frequent appearances before the council to question its ethics and spending habits. “So the question becomes, ‘Why?’ ”

Weeks spoke in opposition Tuesday to the Affordable Airfares program, which offers subsidies to low-cost air carriers. “Maybe they just want people to go along to get along,” he said later.

“If we want boards full of yes men, then that’s what they’ll get,” Weeks said.

Peterjohn said he plans to resubmit Weeks’ name to the city.

“What you have is an ethically challenged council out there with that contract,” Peterjohn said, referring to a controversy over the bid award to Key Construction for the new airport terminal. “They don’t want someone as smart as Bob on that board.

“I’m extremely disappointed that a supremely qualified person such as Bob would be rejected by the city,” he said.

Weeks runs the conservative blog Voice for Liberty in Wichita and is active in Americans for Prosperity events as a researcher. He speaks to the council regularly against public subsidies for private development and against voting for projects that benefit campaign contributors.

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