by Max Brantley
I'm led to believe Little Rock National Airport will have an announcement today on a selection of a director of public affairs and government relations, a job that could pay up to $135,000.
We reported a while back the five finalists for the position.
Mark Raines, the former KTHV newsman who more recently has been a spokesman for Chesapeake Energy, is believed to be the front-runner for the job. Raines was an inaccessible and prickly spokesman for Chesapeake. If he is the choice, we'll soon learn if that was more a reflection of his employer than himself. The public arena is a different world, of course. Raines TV background was primarily as a producer and news director, not on-air, but becoming a "face" of the airport is part of his duties.
UPDATE: Airport Director Ron Mathieu confirms that Raines was hired today. He'll be paid $125,000 a year, which Mathieu said was less than he made at Chesapeake. Raines lives in Cabot. Residency of Little Rock employees has been an ongoing topic of discussion in the campaign for the city sales tax increase. There is no city ordinance requiring residency of employees, though City Manager Bruce Moore has said he encourages city residency by department heads. Mathieu said he and the airport's No. 2 both live in the city. If there were an ordinance requiring other employees to live in Little Rock, he said, the airport certainly would comply, but Raines' residence wasn't an issue in filling the job.
CLARIFICATION: City Manager Moore said it is a "requirement" of his that department heads and key staffers at City Hall be Little Rock residents. He doesn't hire airport staff.