Less than a week after City Council fired Gene Richards as Burlington International Airport aviation director, Mayor Miro Weinberger says he had no immediate plans to start the search for a replacement.
Weinberger told the city Airport Commission that he has confidence in Deputy Director Nic Longo, who took over when Richards was placed on leave in late June after he was accused of verbally abusing employees and creating a hostile work environment. The mayor noted that he generally doesn’t fill any municipal vacancy until a national search is performed.
“I don’t feel enormous urgency to move to that at this moment,” he said, “but I would welcome input from the commission.”
Weinberger, who served on the commission for nine years before being elected mayor, said he has not yet decided how to proceed.
“If we do go through a search, I want to assure the commission — as it says in the charter —there will be a search committee and two members of the Airport Commission will serve on that search committee,” Weinberger said.
Commissioner Helen Riehle, chair of the South Burlington City Council, asked Weinberger if he was considering changes to how employees can file a formal complaint about a manager.
“The allegations made it sound as if the staff, or the employees at the airport, did not have a safe way to complain,” Riehle said.
Weinberger said he had no new information or recommendations to offer.
“That is one of the things we’re trying to understand better and consider, and we may well be recommending changes,” he said.
Former City Council President Bill Keogh is now the chair of the Airport Commission. He said that city staff have traditionally sent the commission a brief letter, once a year, evaluating the airport director’s job performance.
“And we just signed it; I think we made some minor changes this past year,” Keogh said. “We will schedule a review of the director, whoever it is — and we will write that letter, and not staff.”
The BTV director of aviation position isn’t the only department head vacancy in Burlington at the moment. The police chief position is also still vacant. According to the city’s website, the police chief search committee is planning to conduct its first round of interviews in the next few weeks.