Airports director to begin paid leave Monday; deputy director to step in

By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published July 24, 2013

Airports Director Sue Stevens will step down from her position by Monday as part of an agreement between her and the chairman of the Charleston County Aviation Authority.

“After consultation with our counsel, I have taken steps to ensure the stability of our operation and have advised Ms. Stevens that it is my preference that not later than the close of business Monday she avail herself of well-earned paid leave with the understanding that she will remain available for consultation as needed until her separation date of Sept. 30,” Chairman Andy Savage wrote in an email to board members Wednesday night.

Bill New, interim director of the Charleston County Aviation Authority.
Bill New, interim director of the Charleston County Aviation Authority.

Bill New, deputy director of the aviation authority, will serve as interim director.

“One of the benefits of having Ms. Stevens as our director for the past six years is that she has very effectively employed and trained our staff so that the management of a crisis such as this will have a minimum (if any) impact on our primary mission,” Savage wrote.

The aviation authority will also retain a labor lawyer to handle future communications between the organization and Stevens’ attorney, Nancy Bloodgood of Foster Law Firm.

Given the timing of Stevens’ departure, Savage said, the aviation authority faces an increased urgency to find a permanent replacement. The aviation authority is redeveloping its terminal; finalizing a land sale to the Boeing Co., which requires approval by the Federal Aviation Administration; and is preparing to sell bonds to help pay for the redevelopment project.

Savage wrote that he plans to make a recommendation during a board meeting Tuesday for a permanent replacement for the director’s position.

“I anticipate that you will be pleased with my effort and most likely surprised by the attractiveness of this position to extremely well-qualified candidates, and in particular, one who has national corporate management experience, political savvy and an engaging personality who is willing to accept employment within our current budget limitations,” Savage wrote, adding he asked this person to come to the Tuesday board meeting. “This is not someone who is being considered on a reactionary basis as this position is too critical to not be fully vetted by each of you. I have asked our attorney to prepare a ‘fill in the blanks’ conceptual contract for the board to consider Tuesday regardless of who we ultimately select.”

Yesterday, Stevens announced her resignation effective at the end of September during a meeting with Savage, the authority’s attorney Arnold Goodstein and Stevens’ attorney. In making her decision, Stevens cited verbal abuse and disrespectful treatment from certain authority board members.

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