By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Unless the City Council corrects leadership problems at the Tupelo Regional Airport, its former director will publicly expose those problems in a lawsuit.
Tupelo attorney Jim Waide represents former airport executive director Terry Anderson, whom the Airport Authority fired in December. The two met with the council and other attorneys Tuesday night in a closed-door meeting at City Hall.
During the 45-minute session, which Waide had requested, he and Anderson presented their case against the authority and its firing of Anderson.
Although the authority had never given a firm reason for the dismissal, Waide said it’s because Anderson ignored one member’s warning not to talk to the media.
Without going into detail, the board in early December said at a special-called meeting it had lost confidence in Anderson. A week later, Anderson was fired.
A new director, Josh Abramson, started April 19.
Waide and Anderson also requested the council correct alleged wrongdoings. If it doesn’t, Waide said, his client will be forced to file a lawsuit.
“Terry would love to see some corrections made of airport practices,” Waide told the Daily Journal on Wednesday. “He would also prefer not to file a suit … because the suit would inevitably involve substantial humiliation and embarrassment for some members of the board, and he hopes a solution will come without that.”
Waide declined to name the members to whom he referred, nor would he disclose their alleged wrongdoings. He said only the members were currently serving.
Airport Authority Chairman Dan Kellum, who acts as spokesman for the board, declined to comment because he wasn’t at the meeting.
Board members Jim Frerer, Bo Gibens and Glenn McCullough voted to fire Anderson on Dec. 8, while Kellum voted against the move. Former board member Carlyle “Smitty” Harris resigned after the special-called meeting a week earlier, saying that he could not support the board.
Harris was replaced by Tupelo banker Fred Cook.
The council has no jurisdiction over the Tupelo Regional Airport or its governing board. However, because the council had created the authority, it does have the power to disband it, said city attorney John Hill.
If the council disbanded the authority, it could either create a new one or decide to assume airport governance itself, he said.
Council President Fred Pitts said his group listened to Anderson and Waide but didn’t ask questions or discuss the matter afterward. It’s unclear at this point what, if any, action the council will take.