Eight complaints justified using millions in taxpayer money

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Complaints from eight people about TAC Air’s quality of service at the Chattanooga Airport before 2010 apparently justified using $4 million in state taxpayer money.

Chattanooga City Council member Larry Grohn told Tennessee Watchdog he requested and received records of those complaints, but what he found didn’t exactly reveal widespread dissatisfaction.

As Tennessee Watchdog reported, members of the airport authority cited those complaints as a reason to use the money. TAC Air has since left the airport.

NOT ENOUGH: Larry Grohn said the minimal nature of those complaints didn’t justify the airport authority’s actions.

“When I requested the emails and correspondence and all of the records against TAC Air, I only got eight letters. That was it,” Grohn said.

“I was told by airport authority officials that there were other people coming to them and just verbalizing their experiences with TAC Air. Two of the complaints for support for having another FBO were handwritten notes from an individual who doesn’t even keep his plane at the airport.”

Grohn said the minimal nature of those complaints didn’t justify the airport authority’s actions.

“You want to support a multi-million dollar project based on something somebody told you, but you have no proof that this person lodged an official complaint. You have a handwritten note that is undated,” Grohn said.

Grohn said he filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get the information. Members of the airport authority would not volunteer it, he said.

Grohn has previously complained to Tennessee Watchdog about the lack of transparency in how the airport authority ultimately used $12 million in taxpayer dollars to acquire TAC Air’s office and hangar facilities last week.

As previously reported, airport authority spokesman Albert Waterhouse declined to respond to several messages seeking comment over the past week and a half.

Additionally, two authority members declined to answer Tennessee Watchdog’s questions on the matter. Tennessee Watchdog left messages with three other airport authority members Tuesday, but none responded before publication time.

As a fixed base of operations, TAC Air provided fuel and other services. Airport authority officials have admitted the taxpayer-subsidized FBO, under the management of Wilson Air, has lost more than $1 million of taxpayer money.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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