After over two years of questioning the runway extension and repeatedly being accused by the Naples Municipal Airport executive director, Naples Airport Authority commissioners, members of City Council and ex-Mayor Bill Barnett of both misleading and conning (Barnett's term) the public, the Daily News editorial on JetBlue the other provided some vindication.
Alan Parker and I have spent untold hours digging up facts and providing information on the runway extension. While the support of many hundreds of citizens has been rewarding, the continual criticism, rejection, and charges of misrepresentation by community leaders (as recently as at Monday's City Council workshop) was most discouraging.
We knew that the airport and the NAA would oppose us at every turn, but even the majority of the members of City Council, after listening for some 10 hours, rejected us as though their minds had long been made up.
Their flat-out rejection of our charge that the extension was to allow larger and heavier jets, followed by consideration of JetBlue's proposal, was inexplicable.
The JetBlue decision to not serve Naples, and its reference to community support, was a true reversal of fortune, even though the company's motivation is no doubt linked to business concerns.
But your fine editorial lent legitimacy to our efforts, perhaps not in the minds of the leaders but for the community as a whole.
And from a governance standpoint your questioning of airport leadership is more important than the isolated issue of JetBlue. We can only hope that our "leaders" will recognize that they have gone off course. And I hope that one or two may rethink their position when they read about their flawed judgments on your editorial page.
Unfortunately it is too late for the runway extension, and the 75,000-pound weight limit remains at risk.
I commend the Daily News for identifying and publicly addressing what has been, and remains, the heart of the problem.