Newly created CLT commission responds to Charlotte’s lawsuit - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Newly created CLT commission responds to Charlotte’s lawsuit

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CHARLOTTE, NC (Erik Spanberg/Charlotte Business Journal) -

A revamped version of the N.C. law to create an independent entity to govern Charlotte Douglas International Airport makes the injunction granted by Mecklenburg Superior Court "moot because the law it challenges no longer exists," the newly created airport commission stated in a court filing Tuesday morning.

The filing marks the latest step in an ugly dispute over whether the city will continue to run CLT.

State lawmakers spent nearly the entire General Assembly session grappling with the fate of Charlotte Douglas. The Democratic-heavy city government opposes the shift, while Mecklenburg Republicans in the legislature have led the charge to create an authority or commission to oversee the airport. Along the way, longtime city aviation director Jerry Orr has been removed, at least temporarily, while the governor, lawmakers and Charlotte political leaders snipe at each other.

Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican ally of the local lawmakers behind the airport campaign, has pushed in recent weeks for middle ground, but without success.

On Monday, while City Council members deliberated their options during a two-hour closed-door meeting, state Sen. Malcolm Graham, a Mecklenburg Democrat, described the governor as "a joke."

Another former Charlotte mayor, Richard Vinroot, who is also a Republican, represents the airport commission and Orr, its executive director.

Both versions of the legislation passed in Raleigh designate Orr as the head of CLT. A court hearing Thursday morning will give both sides a chance to make their cases on the future governance of the airport.

Today's 29-page court filing by the airport commission cites a number of reasons for lifting the injunction and also states the city fired Orr on July 18 after he sent a letter to City Manager Ron Carlee regarding the transition to an airport authority.

Orr's letter "explained his understanding that the Authority Act (passed by the General Assembly) ended his responsibilities as Charlotte's Aviation Director and made him the Authority's Executive Director ... When Mr. Orr explained that he had not resigned, city officials insisted that he leave the Airport."

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