Realignment Road Show Hits South Florida
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Last month NATCA took the "realignment road show" to South Florida. PBI Facrep Shane Ahern and MIA FacRep Jim Marinitti along with Southern Region RVP Victor Santore and Realignment Committee Chairman Mitch Herrick traveled to satellite airports around South Florida and The Treasure Coast and spoke about the FAA's plan to close the TRACON at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) and move it to Miami. "We had a fantastic week of meetings and I think we did a good job of informing the public about the FAA's plan and helping to firm up support for our elected officials" said Shane Ahern. Jim Marinitti added that, "It is important for the membership to speak with their leadership and the members of Congress that have really stepped up to the plate for them."
For over a week they met with dozens of pilots, airport managers, elected officials and other members of the local community who raised concerns similar to those heard in other areas where consolidation is being considered -- what will it really cost? How will safety and services be impacted? Will the airport run as efficiently with the TRACON in Miami as it would with the TRACON right here in Palm Beach?
In a letter sent after the meeting to one of the presenters, a pilot wrote: “Just so you know and may appreciate, I am a very conservative person and normally would perceive this issue as one of a union bent—however, clearly it is not and I empathize with many of the relevant points that you made during your presentation, specifically the issues of reliability of service and safety. I have sent out an email through your web page to every pilot that I know in our area asking them to support your efforts.”
Also, St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky raised such concerns in a letter to FAA Administrator J. Randolph Babbitt. In the letter, the Commissioner calls the proposed removal of the TRACON a "major step backwards" and urges the FAA to keep the TRACON at PBI to maintain safety and service.
The week culminated with a NATCA PBI local meeting at a nearby eatery where Congressman Alcee Hastings along with NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and RVP Victor Santore met with approximately 25 members of the PBI local. The congressman, President Rinaldi and RVP Santore spent a very informal evening answering questions and sharing camaraderie with the members.
Mitch Herrick, who is also the NATCA South Florida Legislative Coordinator, remarked: "What a great setting and what a great opportunity for the members at PBI to get first-hand answers from their president, RVP, and a U.S. congressman. NATCA has no bigger friend than Alcee Hastings and we are fortunate to have him on our side on this issue."