Richards defends tenure at BTV as Weinberger seeks to have him fired

Local News

Gene Richards said he does not deserve to be fired after turning around Burlington International Airport, which he describes as in rough shape before he took over as aviation director nine years ago.

Instead, Mayor Miro Weinberger has called a special city council meeting on Sept. 9 to consider terminating Richards after an independent investigator found that he mistreated employees and used poor judgment in utilizing city property.

“The mistreatment of city employees documented in this investigation is unacceptable and Mr. Richards can no longer serve the city in a leadership role, despite his many past accomplishments,” the mayor said in a statement.

On Saturday, Richards said he could’ve learned from the feedback to become a better manager if he’d been given an opportunity. “We need to be fair to all of our employees and everyone should have that opportunity,” Richards said.

An investigation was launched after a Federal Aviation Administration employee discovered repeated use of a gasoline facility by a private vehicle. Investigators investigation concluded Richards used the gasoline facility to fuel his personal vehicle 59 times in a six-month period without any documentation of the purpose of the fuel and travel.

The report concluded that he didn’t violate any specific policy but suggested he used poor judgment by declining to consult city officials.

Richards, who has been on leave since June 30, told investigators it was OK to gas up because he used his vehicle for city business. During COVID-19, the gas was sitting for months, and risked going bad, he added.

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