The Metropolitan Washington Airport’s Authority Board has been the subject of wide-ranging criticism for its overly generous travel policy granted to its directors.
The generous travel policy led Gov. Bob McDonnell to remove Loudoun resident Dennis Martire from the MWAA Board, citing Martire’s travel on behalf of MWAA as his cause for doing so. But just this week a Fairfax judge ruled that McDonnell had not demonstrated cause to remove Martire.
It’s not surprising that the judge ruled against McDonnell. No taxpayer money was involved — numerous MWAA directors traveled using funds derived from the service fees paid by airlines and other airport users. However, most people would probably be in favor of a more austere travel policy if it could free up additional resources to improve the airports.
An obvious solution would therefore be to revise MWAA’s policies with some common-sense reforms and then move on. Instead, critics of MWAA and its travel policy have responded in ways that are extravagantly disproportionate to the original incidents, and even to the much-maligned travel budget itself. Gov. McDonnell has elected to embroil the state in litigation over a $9,000 plane ticket that will cost millions in legal fees to resolve. Even if MWAA’s travel budget was too generous, we shouldn’t let the governor compound the mistake by wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on needless litigation that a more prudent governor would have avoided.
Public servants have an obligation to ensure the solutions we propose aren’t many times worse than the problems they are designed to solve. Gov. McDonnell has lost in court and now it’s time to work together to ensure MWAA is operating properly and completing Phase II of Rail to Dulles.
Stevens R. Miller
Past member, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, 2008-2011