Today technically marks the end of seven years at the helm of the Charleston County Aviation Author-ity for outgoing Airports Di-rector Sue Stevens.
She announced July 23 that she was stepping down after claims of being bullied by board members, slighted because she was the female head of an all-male, 13-member board and subjected to alleged misdealings among some board members related to the $189 million construction overhaul of Charleston International Airport’s aging terminal.
Though she has been in the office only briefly since dropping those bombshells, today is her official last day on the job after 26 years with the Aviation Authority in different capacities.
In her place, the board temporarily named longtime Deputy Director Bill New, and then quickly hired state Sen. Paul Campbell, a former Alcoa executive, as new head of the county’s three airports.
New agreed to stay on until Jan. 31, when he plans to retire. But that most likely will change.
During the last board meet- ing, Aviation Authority Chairman Andy Savage said talks were on to keep New around through June 30, the end of the agency’s fiscal year.
New said it’s not a done deal, but he is considering hanging around the embattled agency a little longer. The airport authority is under a State Law Enforcement Division investigation related to construction contracts referred to in Stevens’ letter of resignation.
The reason New is being asked to stay is simple.
Lawmakers go back into session in January. That means Campbell will be in Columbia three days a week through early June, when the General Assembly adjourns. Though Campbell insists he can do the job from afar, Aviation Authority members probably quickly realized that with Campbell running the agency on-site part-time and New leaving in January, no one would be left on-site full-time to oversee the task of running three airports, including the state’s busiest while it undergoes a total makeover over the next two years.
So, it appears New will helm the ship while Campbell is in Columbia, at least next year. After that, it’s up in the air. Let the speculation begin.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.