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RIP OFF RAMP: $27 MILLION taxpayer built ramp for a failed 2003 Aviation World's Fair, but has never been used 1-minute for aviation purposes


NEWPORT NEWS (December 22, 2006) - - Although he's been the counsel to the Peninsula Airport Commission for years at an unknown total compensation or annual cost to the public, Newport News lawyer Herbert V. Kelly Sr. does not have a job description or contract to serve in such capacity with that public body, Virginia News Source learned Thursday.

The Unalienable Rights Foundation (UARF), a Virginia Beach-based public interest foundation - filed a Freedom of Information request originally on October 16, again on November 2, and December 9 requesting information on Kelly's contract.

Kelly did not respond until December 20. The UARF told VNS it received Kelly's response Thursday. Kelly wrote UARF:

"Acting on behalf of the Commissioners of the Peninsula Airport Commission, as to your concerns, I am replying to your December 9, 2006 request.

"This is to inform you that the items you are asking for do not exit [sic] (exist)."

Kelly's response makes it clear he has no contract to represent the airport commission as its legal counsel.

It leaves in limbo what the man's status is, the validity of his legal counsel, and the impact of the commission's action upon his advice.

As a general rule, counsel for such public bodies would have more than word of mouth employment agreement to do legal work and provide legal advice to such agencies.

For decades the Peninsula Airport Commission has been operated by a 'Good ole boy clique,' ignoring federal regulations, misusing federal funds, violating state disclosure laws, and operating the airport as a private 'club,' and discrimiating and retaliating against anyone objecting, including its general aviation tenants.

Among other questionable issues, the airport commission:

Appointed one of its own employees as an unqualified building inspector to circumvent having a qualified inspector from the city of Newport News inspect airport construction;

Cut a special deal to bring a new fixed base operator (FBO), Mercury Air Center, to the airport rent free for its first 5 years and has established separate standards for the new tenant and the original FBO, Rick Aviation;

Took $27 MILLION in local, state, and national funds appropriated for a 2003 Aviation World's Fair, to build a huge concrete ramp, and then refused to cooperate in bringing the fete to fruition. (The airport commission was accused of sabotaging the world's fair project so it could use the funds for its own purposes according to the former State Director of Aviation. Ken Weigands said the ensuing turmoil that occurred during a transition between a Republican and Democrat gubernatorial administrations allowed the $27 MILLION to "fall through the cracks."

Wanted the $27 MILLION for its own Airport Business Park. Although the world's fair failed, the money was used to build the airport's new ramp. To date the $27 MILLION "white elephant' ramp has never seen a minute's use for aviation purposes.

Allowed the airport manager (also now its building inspector) to use the $27 MILLION taxpayer ramp free to host his own vintage car club show, however.

Allowed the airport manager to use government computers to promote, advertise, and organize his vintage car club activities.

Is apparently an illegally constituted body according to state law.

So far the most of the problems and questionable activities publicized have been ignored by the Newport News Commonwealth's Attorney's office.

Previous Virginia News Source stories detailing problems at the airport are below:

1. Peninsula airport buildings may be illegally constructed
2. Peninsula airport: Who's in charge? Lawyers? PAC? Nobody?
3. Peninsula airport forced eviction of Hampton University's aviation program
4. Troubles building at Peninsula airport
5. Airport manager using government property for private use
6. Rip off $28 MILLION airport ramp has never been used for an aviation purpose - not even to park an aircraft
7. Judicial favoritism, harassment by Peninsula Airport Commission and Newport News Court
8. Peninsula airport's action designed to drive defense contractor out of business
9, Troubled airport run as a private club? 
10. Airport lawyer works without contract or job description

     Related Links
· More about Freedom of Information [Project FOIA]
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Most read story about Freedom of Information [Project FOIA]:
UARF's Josh Thompson's Letter to Virginia Beach Mayor Sessoms, Do you want UARF

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