John D. Clark’s baggage has arrived at Indianapolis International Airport before he has — but it’s not the American Tourister variety.
The man nominated to be CEO of the Indianapolis Airport Authority has been a polarizing figure in Jacksonville, where he’s been CEO of the Florida city’s aviation authority since 2001. During that time, Clark amassed a long list of critics — ranging from the city council to airport police to neighborhood residents in the path of a proposed runway extension. Jacksonville’s alternative newspaper, Folioweekly, in November published a scathing article about Clark, painting him as a big spender with little regard for authority.
Recently named chairman of the North American division of Airports Council International, Clark has flown around the world for ACI conferences, at the airport authority’s expense. According to the newspaper, Clark has flown to Shanghai, Brussels, Frankfort, Paris, London and Buenos Aires in the past two years, racking up expensive hotel bills, including a $726-per-night room in Buenos Aires and $582 room in Paris. His trip to the London Air Show cost the authority $10,491 and his trip to Shanghai cost $11,304.
“I’ve said on several occasions I’d be happy to write him a letter of recommendation, if it got him a job somewhere else,” said Bill Bishop, a Jacksonville architect and city councilman who helped stop Clark and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority from extending a runway into a residential area.
Hours after the Indianapolis Airport Authority announced Clark’s selection on March 10, bloggers who had “Googled” his name starting having a field day questioning the authority’s CEO pick.
Indianapolis Airport Authority President Randall Tobias said he’s well aware of published reports on Clark and of blog chatter, but that the Jacksonville airport executive has been thoroughly vetted . . .
“We performed an exhaustive check of references” on Clark, said Tobias. “There’s kind of an old saying: If you haven’t irritated someone, you probably haven’t stretched to do your job.
John has very high marks,” said Tobias, noting his recognition by peers.
One would hope that someone with better judgment in the Ballard administration would step forward and deep six this appointment, but it is doubtful that will happen. Recall that Tobias was forced to resign his position at Bush's State Department following revelations by ABC News that he had been a customer of the D.C. Madam's escort business. Tobias denied receiving anything other than massages from the escort service. The Star reports today that Tobias recently filed for divorce.