Originally created 07/12/01

Can't keep it quiet



Whatever Augusta Regional Airport Finance Director Michael Parish did to lose his job at Augusta Regional Airport is still a matter of wild speculation.

A trip to Phoenix, misuse of funds and some improprieties have been alluded to, expanded on and gossiped about. But the facts will become known during an internal audit of the airport financial records, and after Parish answers some questions about expenditures.

Yes, it will eventually all become known, which is why it's so mystifying that Augusta Aviation Commission chairwoman Marci Wilhelmi would try to cover up the matter. She didn't even bother to tell other commissioners, who were caught unaware when the media called with questions about Parish's departure.

Instead, she took the, "don't worry your pretty little head about it" approach to reporters, clamming up on details but saying the airport would follow county procedures in investigating the situation.

There is, to be sure, a valid question of personnel confidentiality for Parish. But that has to be weighed against the public's right to know how its tax dollars are being spent, and in this regard, the Augusta Aviation Commission chairwoman has fallen short.

Wilhelmi should have, when she learned about the alleged problem possibly weeks before it became public, called for either a meeting of the commission's personnel committee or a meeting of the entire commission to inform the panel and the public.

Instead, she kept commission members and her boss - John Q. Public - in the dark.