Charleston County Aviation Authority retains lawyer amid debate

By Liz Segrist
Published Jan. 17, 2014

The Charleston County Aviation Authority voted Thursday to retain its attorney with the caveat that the board will evaluate how to handle hiring of legal representation in the near future by opening up the application process to the public.

The authority voted to give Arnold Goodstein a 6.5% raise to bump his salary to around $250,000 during its monthly meeting at the Charleston International Airport. Goodstein has been the authority’s chief legal counsel for more than 20 years.

Authority members debated for over an hour about whether to retain Goodstein and give him a raise or to open up the application process to the public through a request for qualifications process.

The debate has been going on since the authority hired Amy Jenkins, an outside attorney that specializes in employment law, last year to give her opinion. Aviation Authority Chairman Andy Savage reiterated at the meeting that Jenkins said the authority should seek bids to fill the legal services contract.

“From the public perspective, we have been alerted that we are not to code,” authority member Jenny Sanford said. “It’s my belief that a public body should not only be to code, but better than (the code).”

Savage said it has been a “hand shake, pat on the back” situation for decades and that it should become an open and transparent process for the public.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Charleston County Chairman Teddie Pryor, both authority members, advocated for Goodstein and the raise.

Board members that took issue with the hiring process noted they had no doubt that Goodstein would be the most qualified and experienced candidate by far to serve the authority’s needs. The candidate was not the issue, rather the process, board member Mallory Factor said.

Along with Factor, board members Sanford and Thomas Hartnett agreed that Goodstein is more than qualified for the job, but they wanted to establish a process by which anyone could apply for the position in the future.

The motion that approved Goodstein also requires the board to create a new process to evaluate how it hires legal counsel.

Sanford also requested the board adhere to a timeline so that the current process does not remain indefinite. The board will define the process before the new budget is passed July 1.

Also of note during the meeting, Airports Director Sen. Paul Campbell said the Charleston International Airport has not lost any business amid the merger of American and U.S. Airways.

The merger ends daily nonstop from Washington’s Reagan National Airport to Detroit and San Diego, as well as 15 other cities, including Augusta and Savannah; Fayetteville and Jacksonville, N.C.; and Myrtle Beach.

“We maintained all of our slots through the first round,” Campbell said.

Renovations at Charleston International Airport are underway as well. The rental car pavilion is scheduled to open in late March. Pilings have been installed for the Concourse B Extension and the floor has been completed for the baggage claim renovations.

The airport recently experienced a short power outage during construction and relied on a generator. The airport also encountered water leaks twice during construction. Campbell said the staff is addressing these issues when they arise.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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