City Council president says he wasn’t told BTV director was placed on leave, under investigation

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Burlington International Airport Aviation Director Gene Richards was placed on administrative leave June 30 following a personnel complaint. In a statement, Mayor Miro Weinberger office said an “official investigation was initiated immediately.” 

But City Council President Max Tracy said he was unaware of the complaint for almost a week, and was only informed by a city employee July 5. He then received confirmation from the city’s human resources office that Richards had been placed on paid leave. The matter was first reported by Seven Days.

“It’s, altogether, unclear at this point whether I had not reached out they would have let us know that Director Richards was on leave prior to the publication of that Seven Days article,” said Tracy. “We need to know what’s going on with our city department heads.”

Likewise, Airport Commission Chair Jeff Munger and commission member Bill Keogh said they were informed by Deputy Director of Aviation Nic Longo only two hours before the article was published.

Neither Mayor Weinberger nor Longo was available to comment Wednesday and automated reply to emails sent to Richards’ BTV email account said he is “not currently available via phone or email.” 

Tracy says he had a good relationship with Richards. “I have worked with Gene on various airport projects, and I’ve had a generally positive working relationship with him,” he said.

City Council approved Richards as named aviation director in 2103, after he served as interim director for a year.

“I think that the council needs to be treated as an equal partner in this, and in order to fully collaborate with the administration, we need to have information in a timely manner,” said Tracy\

City Council is scheduled to be briefed on the investigation in an executive session Monday. Longo will serve as interim director while Richards is on leave. 

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