The Charleston County Aviation Authority normally doesn't allow public input during its monthly meetings, but last week it did - and it got an earful.
Some members of the public apparently are still stewing over the airport board's deci- sion to retain Arnold Goodstein as its attorney for $350,000 without seeking competitive bids, at least until the new budget year begins in July.
They also said they didn't like board Chairman Andy Savage's response to document requests or his conduct during the January meeting of the authority, which devolved into personal attacks.
On Thursday, Charleston County Republican Party Chairman John Steinberger said he was upset by Savage's response to a request for records related to Goodstein.
Steinberger said he was trying to ascertain how Goodstein could work full-time as the agency's outside counsel while also being classified as a fully disabled veteran. Under Veterans Affairs guidelines, a person can be fully disabled and have a full-time job.
In his Dec. 21 written response, Savage wondered why Steinberger would question Goodstein's military service and why he was asking the authority for records over which it has no control. Savage called Steinberger's records request "a cowardly attempt to cast discredit" on Goodstein and called for an apology.
When Steinberger was allowed to speak at the end of the Aviation Authority board meeting in January, he took offense at being called a coward. Savage reiterated that it was a "cowardly" act and the meeting quickly spiraled out of control before board members adjourned.
Another citizen addressed the board Thursday. Jock Stender also criticized Savage's response to Steinberger. He said the chairman should be replaced along with Goodstein and North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, who also sits on the board.
By law, Summey, as mayor, gets a board seat along with the mayors of Charleston and Mount Pleasant, where the authority owns airports.
Stender didn't like the way Summey handled Goodstein's proposed contract in November. Stender also called for the board to expand its membership to Berkeley and Dorchester counties, part of a budding movement for a tri-county aviation board.
Authority members did not respond to any comments.
In response to turmoil on the board, College of Charleston School of Business Dean Alan Shao was asked by Savage to address the board, and Shao urged members to respect each other's opinions.
"Negative comments should be taken care of in-house," he said.
Board member and former S.C. first lady Jenny Sanford asked his best advice for a board such as the authority made up of political appointees.
"Sometimes we get caught up and don't listen to each other," Shao said. "What's the end result? To improve the airport. We are all trying to accomplish the same results."
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