Monday, January 14, 2008

Erasing Fayetteville

It has been ten years since the Northwest Arkansas Council wiped out commercial passenger service at Fayetteville's Drake Field with the witting support of Mayor Fred Hanna and Steve Ward of the Fayetteville Chamber of Cowbirds. Now there is a campaign to eliminate the unspeakable word "Fayetteville" from any connection with their XNA airport serving Wal-Mart Headquarters in Bentonville.

I don't think this is directly related to our "community leaders'" efforts to brand everything XNA. If it is, they've recruited
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Robert Smith to lead their campaign to quit saying that XNA is in Fayetteville. At the suggestion of UA Engineering Professor Jim Gattis, travel guru Smith enlisted the help of Congressman John Boozman (R-Pinnacle Gated Community) to make the airlines stop mentioning Fayetteville.

Boozman's staff said he was too busy fighting health care, education, and efforts to end the occupation of Iraq, that he didn't have time to draft a bill to prohibit saying Fayetteville, but he did send a letter to the
Air Transport Association asking them to have their member airlines to be more accurate and eliminate the confusion by calling it Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.

Fayetteville city employee Ray Boudreaux, who is paid half time to be in charge of the Drake Field airport, was not mentioned in the article, but it must have been another blow after losing the multi-million dollar trailer storge project to the Hope Airport and the multi-million dollar aircraft assembly plant to the Rogers Airport. Now this.

The other half of Boudreaux's handsome salary is for being the city's director of economic development. Public opinion of his effectiveness was recently undermined by Mayor Coody's admission that Boudreaux had no worthwhile economic development strategy. Today the Northwest Arkansas Times ignored him completely and called for the city to "
put Fayetteville Economic Development Council President/CEO Steve Rust in charge of finding a notable buyer" for the empty Tyson Mexican Original building, one "with the potential to produce jobs [and put the building] back onto the property tax rolls." Bad day for Ray.

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