What A Bargain 

City hires new airport director on the cheap

A mere 10 months after the sudden, unexplained resignation of Boise Airport Director John Anderson, Mayor Dave Bieter says he's hired a new one. And at a bargain, too.

Bieter announced last week that Richard McConnell, formerly of the Rick Husband International Airport in Amarillo, Texas, will be the new airport director. McConnell will make $100,000 in salary, according to the mayor's office. That's substantially less than his predecessor, who was making $114,491 when he left.

McConnell will have to be confirmed by the Boise City Council first, but presuming he does, he will start his new assignment the first week of September. The council is set to hear his confirmation on August 21.

It's been a long road to here, starting first with Anderson's long-term but controversial tenure at the Boise airport, followed by his sudden departure. When he "retired" in a terse note to Mayor Bieter in October, Anderson was the city's highest-paid employee. He is now the general manager of the McCall airport.

Since then, the city has made a few attempts at hiring a new director and even offered the job to a candidate who turned it down earlier this year.

When that happened, the city opted to use a headhunter, at a cost of about $30,000, to find McConnell.

City Councilor Jim Tibbs, who acts as liaison to the airport, said he enthusiastically supports McConnell's hiring. Tibbs is also running against Bieter for mayor in the November election.

McConnell is "a good guy. I'm very impressed with his vision and his credentials," Tibbs said. "He was clearly the top candidate."

McConnell, Tibbs said, was among four candidates for the job.

Bieter spokeswoman Elizabeth Duncan said Amarillo has several similarities to Boise.The city has about 180,000 people.

In an interview with BW, McConnell said he had been looking for an opening like Boise's for a while and contacted the headhunter firm himself when he heard about the opening.

"I wanted to be back in a challenging realm," McConnell said.

He'd been with the Amarillo airport for 17 years, he said. According to the Amarillo Globe, McConnell resigned without much of an explanation in February. According to the Globe, he was making $79,000.

McConnell said his departure was related to some changes in city management, particularly the city manager's position.

McConnell holds a master's of business administration from West Texas A&M University and another degree in airport administration from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND. McConnell is 45 years old, married and has two children ages 14 and 12.

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