Friday, September 10, 2010

More On The High-Flying Airport CEO John Clark

WTHR's Mary Milz had yet another follow up story to her original story reporting on the high-flying Indianapolis Airport Authority John Clark's lavish travel budget. He took dozens of trips costing taxpayers close to $50,000 during his first 14 months on the job. In this latest report, Milz describes how the $270,000 a year CEO seeks approval for his lavish travel expenses from an airport subordinate, CFO Marsha Stone, who sat in on her interview with Clark. I found interesting this particular memo Milz disclosed in her report where Clark sought reimbursement for a trip to Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. She says Clark described the purpose of the trip as "business development." He expensed $735 for airfare and $2,306.51 for lodging. Here's how the memo seeking reimbursement read:

In a separate memo notes "the cost for hosting this business development opportunity was "$2,306.51 I am unable to get a receipt from the member (due) to _____ concern of having his membership information exposed to public record. I am seeking paying in the amount of $2,306.51 to be made to ______ for reimbursement of costs directly associated with the business of the IAA."
He can't furnish a receipt to Marsha Stone because the member of the exclusive private golf club doesn't want the information "exposed to public record" and, instead, asks Stone to issue payment to another person to reimburse the member for the expenses charged to his membership at the club. Now if that doesn't raise all sorts of red flags then I don't know what does. Augusta is near Atlanta where Clark is seeking the job as CEO of Hartfield-Jackson International Airport. He is one of three finalists for the job, but he insists he never applied for the job. As he explained to Milz, he's so highly respected in the field that he gets calls all the time from airport authorities all over the world asking him to apply for jobs. Atlanta asked him to apply for this job and he obliged their request. After all, how could he turn down an offer to apply for a job to the nation's busiest airport? I would note one of Milz' earlier reports included mention of a trip he billed to Indianapolis taxpayers to cover the cost of attending an NBA game in Atlanta between the Pacers and the Hawks. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn we've been footing the bill for Clark to jockey to get this new job in Atlanta.

Altanta's mayor has reportedly already made a decision, but is holding off announcing his choice until the new choice can wrap things up in his current position. All three of the finalists carry a lot of baggage. The other two were fired or resigned under a cloud from their respective positions in Tampa and Detroit. Clark left Jacksonville's International Airport for his job in Indianapolis after his lavish travel budget there and his mistreatment of airport employees drew scrutiny. A Florida prosecutor is still investigating Clark's travel expenditures.

Milz informs us the airport authority recently paid Flashpoint $100,000 to do a salary and compensation study to move more towards "a performance-based organization" and to do a comparison of his pay to other lesser-paid employees. Unbelievably, our airport authority offered to pay a more than $37,000 bonus to Clark after his first year on the job, which he turned down due to the bad economy. I suspect he turned it down because of his plans to move on to Atlanta. Milz says Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is aware of the travel-related issues surrounding Clark and will take that into consideration in making his decision. He also described all three of his controversial finalist choices as "strong candidates."

Milz report also points out Clark didn't turn in an expense report for his trip to the Super Bowl in Miami that included 5 tickets for three airline executives, CFO Stone and himself until several months later. Why the delay Milz asked?  "I'm tardy, simply tardy," Clark said. "I'm not trying to avoid anything. I just moved on to other things." Well, maybe it's time someone in the Ballard administration showed a little leadership and tells Clark to move on to other things.

UPDATE: The IBJ reports Clark has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Atlanta airport job. The Atlanta Constitution-Journal had this statement from Clark:

“After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to withdraw my name from further consideration for the position of general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International airport," Clark said in a prepared statement. "Being considered for a position of this magnitude is truly an honor and a valuable experience. However, I am committed, along with our valuable employee team, to delivering a world class airport here ... and continuing the focus on our 2010-15 strategic plan.”


Paul K. Ogden said...

This reminds me so much of John Dillon who was President of the Bond Bank Board, and who was hired by the Bond Bank Board to be a part-time consultant on the new convention center. He was paid $350,000 or so for this "part-time" consulting gig over a little more than a year's time and even also consulted on Lucas Oil Stadium even though that wasn't part of the deal. But where he is similiar to Clark is that he turned in invoices for pay months some cases as much as nine months late. They only said such things as "Attended Meeting 8 hours" detail whatsoever. Of course the Bond Bank paid the invoices without question. This is, after all, Indianapolis.

Advance Indiana said...

They know they can do whatever they want with our money, Paul. The Marion County Prosecutor's office is corrupt, and our U.S. Attorney's Office is no better. They can plunder the public resources at will without consequence. If you want to fleece the government, come to Indianapolis. There's no prosecutor who will breathe down your back. Why take the risk in Chicago or New Orleans?

Downtown Indy said...

The bad news is Atlanta is probably smart enough to not pick this bozo, so we'll continue to be subjected to his misdeeds.

Downtown Indy said...

How long before Milz uncovers the truth is that Clark was actually dropped from further consideration when the Atlanta committee narrowed its selections from 3 to 2?