Atlanta mayor counters idea of state takeover of airport

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is opposed to the idea of a state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and said she has spoken with the state legislator behind the move.

“I am trying not to be on the bad side of the state,” said Bottoms, in her first year as mayor, “but continuing to have very open dialogue with the state.”

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State. Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) earlier this year introduced a bill to create a statewide board to manage the airport. But after encountering resistance, including from Bottoms and Gov. Nathan Deal's administration, Jones instead introduced a resolution to create a study committee on the possibility of making the change. Last week, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle appointed members to the committee.

“Sen. Jones and I have spoken and I’ve shared with him my concerns. He’s shared his concerns about where we are with the airport, which we recognize what those challenges are,” Bottoms said.

Among the challenges the airport faces are a federal bribery investigation into City Hall that has reached into airport contracts, concerns raised in a city audit about red flags in contractingconflict of interest issues and foibles like the power outage that shut down operations at Hartsfield-Jackson one day last December.

“I am in continuous conversations with the governor’s office as well,” she said. “I am just working to make sure that we have solid leadership and processes in place.”

She said she thinks plans to name a new city chief procurement officer "will go a long way to help squash some of the concerns we've had around the airport." The previous chief procurement officer, Adam Smith, in April was ordered to report to a North Carolina federal prison to begin serving a 27-month sentence for his role in a City Hall bribery scheme.

Bottoms said Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest and most efficient airport, “and a leadership change or a structural change won’t help improve that. You can’t get any better than that. So we will continue to fix what we need to fix on behalf of the city of Atlanta.”