Last night at 401 State Street in Hudson, the audience was treated to the unusual spectacle of government trashing government’s own credibility—for the purpose of getting people to trust the government’s latest claims.
During this second informational meeting about the County airport, elected officials and Richmor executives struggled to create an impression that their Ghent facility was neither particularly busy, nor going to expand.
But when confronted with contradictory statements from the County’s own studies and grant applications, officials and executives came up with a novel defense: trashing their own previous claims.
After Richmor’s Maylon and Sharyn Richards repeatedly denied any intention to expand (a claim echoed by several officials), this attendee cited specific language from a 2012 grant application submitted by the County on their behalf.
As previously reported here, that application revealed the County’s hush-hush plan “to absorb a substantial amount of corporate and smaller freight aircraft operations” from “other airports in the region.” The application proposed renaming it the Upper Hudson Valley Regional Airport, and advocated “prioritization for the attraction of corporate aviation businesses... in order to service Richmor’s Corporate HQ [and] expand airport operations.”
In response, the author of that grant application—County economic development czar Ken Flood—rolled his eyes at hearing his own words. As far as all that stuff about expanding the airport, he said, “that was just grantsmanship.” Grantsmanship evidently being the new erm for “b.s.-ing fellow government officials in order to get funding.”
The State application was signed by Flood under penalty of perjury. Future recipients of grant applications written by Mr. Flood might want to consider that he may be using a gilded shovel... Meanwhile, Richmor’s reps claimed not to have been consulted by County about that application, or the 2003 study projecting up to 50,000 operations per year, though Ms. Richards is a member of the County’s Economic Development Corporation—and these documents repeatedly focus and rely on information about their business.
Likewise, when audience members pointed out the astronomical numbers of annual flights contained in various County studies, the responses from Richmor and various officials were that “Well, you know what kind of stuff gets put into government reports...”
This leaves the public to wonder: If people weren’t supposed to believe the County before, why should anyone believe it now?
The hearing also featured Richmor saying that a study claiming an improbable 19,200 operations per year wasn’t conducted by anyone with a financial relationship with the airport. Ghent resident Patti Matheney pointed out that in fact, the study was done by the son of the owner of Stanwyck Avionics, which indeed does work for the airport—and which many expect would be a vendor to install new equipment if the County’s plan goes ahead.
19,200 flights per years computes to over four takeoffs or landings per hour, every day, during daylight hours. As noted by local farmer Richard Harrison, whose property is near the airport, the actual number seems more like four per day.
Data from FlightAware, which in turn relies on FAA numbers, indicate more like 1,600 operations annually, excluding flight training. For more information on the County’s wild airport numbers, see this previous post.
Other headscratchers from the meeting included Richmor simultaneously touting the airport’s economic importance to the County, while bemoaning the steady decline in activity there; and officials still being unable to produce evidence of collecting any landing fees from Richmor, which contractually is obligated to pay the County $50 each time a turbined plane lands.