Legislator Willie Joe Lightfoot
[UPDATE 4:20 p.m.] County spokesperson Justin Feasel just issued this statement in response to the Democrats:
“Considering Legislator Lightfoot never took his service on the MCAA Board seriously, missing 50% of all meetings from 2007 to 2012 and three of five meetings in 2013, his rambling accusations do not merit a serious response. Had he spent more time fulfilling his duties, Mr. Lightfoot would know that all MCAA meetings are open to the public and that the Board abides by all public records requirements, upholding the highest standard of transparency. The best rebuttal to Mr. Lightfoot’s odd attack is his own statement in the MCAA’s December, 2010 meeting, where he declared, ‘This is one of the best committees [I’ve] sat on.’”
Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature are looking to change their representative on the county's Airport Authority board.
In a press release sent out this morning, Legislature Dems said that Legislator Willie Joe Lightfoot has resigned from the board. Democratic Minority Leader Carrie Andrews has recommended Legislator Cynthia Kaleh to take his place.
Under the law, the Legislature's minority caucus gets one representative on the board. Andrews sent the recommendation to County Executive Maggie Brooks who, by county law, submits the nomination to the Legislature for approval, says the press release.
That's the straightforward explanation of what's happening. But as with many matters involving the County Legislature, the backstory is more complicated. Lightfoot's statement on why he resigned is a good starting point:
"While I would have liked to have had a more fruitful time on the airport board, it’s clear to me that Democrats are not welcome there. At no time did I feel included as an equal board member with equal access to information. Despite repeated attempts to work together and resolve these concerns, it’s clear that the existing board has no desire to act transparently or collaboratively. For these reasons, I felt it was important to leave this board and provide a new legislator a crack at getting the airport board members [to] govern openly.”
Lightfoot has said that the authority board isn't independent of the county administration, and that it hasn't provided adequate oversight of the airport administration. But Republicans have complained about Lightfoot's attendance.
During a particularly contentious May Legislature meeting
, Republicans voted against reappointing Lightfoot to the authority's board. But that didn't necessarily mean Lightfoot was booted from the board. Democrats argued that, under law, Lightfoot would remain on the board until the minority leader appointed a replacement.
At the time, Lightfoot said that Republicans were retaliating against him for speaking out about the airport board.