by Max Brantley
The Little Rock Airport Commission met for about an hour in a special executive session today to discuss the suddenly controversial job as director of PR and government relations, but took no action. Commissioner Wesley Clark participated by phone. Jesse Mason was absent.
Mark Raines had taken the job, then backed out. The Arkansas Blog reported over the weekend on internal disagreement, chiefly led by Commissioner Tom Schueck, who favored former City Director Michael Keck for the job. Schueck contended he thought the job would be the commission's to decide. Airport Director Ron Mathieu (backed by Commission Chairman Virgil Miller) had said it was Mathieu's decision, though he consulted with commissioners during the process and they interviewed finalists.
After the closed meeting, Chairman Miller said the commission had not made a recommendation on the job under discussion (presumably the PR job, though it was never explicitly identified.) The matter was referred to the personnel committee for further action. This was the procedure Miller had said last week he hoped would occur when the commission found itself still looking for a new employee. Mathieu will confer with the committee, led by Kay Kelley Arnold, on existing applicants and whether a new search should be launched.
The lack of action has some significance. Good sources said there was some sentiment among members of the commission to ratify Keck as the commission's choice. That did not happen, at least today. It would have been a strong signal about executive power vis a vis Mathieu and the commission.
Schueck razzed me today about my weekend report. He objected specifically to my repeating an account from anonymous sources that he'd complained publicly about Raines' selection. He said that was not correct. There is no doubt that his preference for Keck got back to Raines.