San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 22nd, 2010
San Marcos council moves to privatize management of municipal airport


San Marcos Municipal Airport. Public domain image.

Associate Editor

The San Marcos City Council cleared the runway towards the privatization of the San Marcos Municipal Airport this week, directing the city staff to negotiate a management contract with Texas Aviation Partners of Austin.

Though the city would retain ownership of the airport, its administration, operations and maintenance, repair and upkeep, and its development and redevelopment would be put into the hands of the private enterprise.

Aside from the city council’s blessing, the San Marcos Airport Commission seems to also be on board, with the exception of Commissioner Shaune Maycock who voiced disapproval at a Monday special meeting.

Maycock said he isn’t against the move towards the private market, but is concerned that the process has moved quickly with only one bidder. Maycock went so far as to allege wrong-doing and backroom deals in the process, drawing fire from other members of the commission.

San Marcos Interim City Manager Laurie Moyer said the process has followed open and normal conditions.

On May 2, the city issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the operation of the airport, which drew only a proposal from Texas Aviation Partners. Moyer said 44 firms picked up the advertisement and three downloaded the RFP, but only Texas Aviation responded.

Maycock said he was displeased that Airport Commission Chairman Chuck Nash participated in the interviewing process with Texas Aviation. Maycock said that Nash isn’t a city employee and, therefore, should not have sat in the interview. Maycock said that if the city wanted an opinion from the commission, it should have asked the commission as a whole.

Airport Commissioner Ted Dake said the commission is transparent and not guilty of backroom deals.

“I haven’t been involved in any (backroom deals), and I haven’t seen any,” said Dake, who went on to call Maycock immature and hotheaded. Dake later questioned the city council as to how it allowed an airport vendor onto the airport commission. Maycock is the former president and CEO of Blue Skies Aviation, a company specializing in aircraft maintenance, inspections and major repairs and alterations out of the San Marcos airport. He now is the company’s director of maintenance. Maycock’s wife, Christie Maycock, now is the president and CEO of Blue Skies Aviation.

San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz said all San Marcos residents are allowed to apply for positions on any of the city’s boards and commissions.

Airport Commissioner Charles Soechting urged councilmembers to investigate Maycock’s allegations, which he called “reckless,” “untrue” and “defamatory.” Soechting suggested that the San Marcos Ethics Commission look into the alleged backroom deals and put the matter to rest.

Narvaiz said the matter would be put into a future council agenda for discussion and possible action.

In directing Moyer to begin negotiations, the city council stipulated that there should be a clause in the contract allowing for early termination by both parties. The council also wanted a turn-key option and language allowing for profit sharing, only after all costs associated with the airport’s operations and maintenance are covered. The council didn’t provide a specific length to the contract, but tasked Moyer with ironing out the details.

“The San Marcos airport has tremendous potential,” said Texas Aviation Partner Jim Parker, alluding to the airport’s proximity to Interstate-35 and its location between Austin and San Antonio.

According to Texas Aviation’s website, both Parker and Texas Aviation Partner Jim Wimberly have experience in the airline industry, specifically with Southwest Airlines. Parker is a lawyer by trade, serving as counsel and ultimately CEO of Southwest Airlines, while Wimberly has served as airport manager for William P. Hobby Airport in Houston and as vice president of ground operations for Southwest Airlines in Dallas.

Texas Aviation Partner Darin Davis owns a private equity firm dealing with debts and private equity investments. Partner Stephen Alexander owns a property and a project management firm.

(Editor’s note: The above has been revised to say that Shaune Maycock, the former president and CEO of Blue Skies Aviation, now is that company’s director of maintenance. Christie Maycock now is the president and CEO of Blue Skies Aviation.)

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0 thoughts on “San Marcos council moves to privatize management of municipal airport

  1. I have to make corrections to this article. First, I am not the President and CEO of Blue Skies Aviation. Christie Maycock is the President and CEO of Compliance Aviation, Inc. DBA: Blue Skies Aviation. I stepped down as CEO and am now employed by the company as Director of Maintenance.

    I was not the only Airport Commissioner who voted against sending this proposal to City Council. Dan Gibson also voted no. I voted no because I wanted to send the request for proposal out again to allow other bids to come back. The RFP was out for less than 30 days. Just because it was viewed 44 times and downloaded three times does not mean it was viewed or downloaded by companies who manage airports, anyone could have viewed and downloaded it. The proposal should have also been sent to the American Association of Airport Executives, as the city made membership a requirement to apply for airport manager. It was not sent to that association, which is where companies who manage airports go to look for these particular requests from cities.

    I am not against the idea of an airport management company. In fact, I feel it may bring a level playing field to the businesses at the airport. What I have a problem with is what Texas Aviation Partners (TAP) (verbally) says they will not do: impose ramp fees, tie down fees, increasing taxes existing merchants already pay and so on, but their proposal says (in writing) that these fees may be imposed, which will hurt business and airport traffic. TAP states that they will not impose those fees and that it is up to the city if those fees will be imposed; they would simply collect those fees for the city. I would simply like to see what TAP states verbally put into writing. It is a simple correction that would alleviate a lot of concerns that the merchants have at the airport about these fees.

    The last thing that worries me, is that if any management company can only apply additional fees, taxes, charges etc to new vendors, then what is to stop them from running off the existing vendors from which they cannot profit from by charging additional fees and offering that newly available real estate to vendors whom they can charge those fees? This might not be done immediately or overtly, but a management company could benefit by evaluating the vendors they are not profiting from and making conditions unfavorable for those businesses until they go away and make new space and reduced competition for vendors the management company can more easily profit from.

    As to the allegations of “back door dealings” I am also not the only Commissioner who feels something has been going on behind the scenes, but I want to explain what I said and why. At a recent commission meeting an Airport Commissioner walked into the meeting, before we even started, and announced that “it seems like we have a new company to manage the airport” this was before we even held the meeting to make a recommendation to council.

    During this same meeting I was asking Texas Aviation Partners (TAP) about items in their proposal, when they could not answer these questions Chuck Nash gave an answer for them. When this happened I stated that I didn’t even know why we were having this meeting since it seemed as though it was already a done deal, I received a nod from Commissioner Gibson in agreement. I also said that it seemed like there is something behind the scenes going on and some back door dealings.

    I never said that I suspected any particular person, just that it seemed like something was decided or discussed without quorum before the meeting actually occurred. Again I received a nod from Commissioner Gibson who felt the same way. There were also commissioners who where “cheerleading” for TAP instead of taking an approach like City Council does, which is to be mostly unbiased, even if they support the idea. Rick Menchaca, former City Manager, also made appearance at a previous meeting and stood up and spoke positively about TAP’s proposal (before the RFP had been sent out).

    I felt that this was improper. In other words, we, the Airport Commissioners should like the proposal because the City Manager and Airport Chairman liked it. During this meeting I was adamant that the Commission should not make this recommendation to council to enter into an agreement without taking bids from other companies who manage airports, which was met with exasperation and eye rolling. It was clear that this proposal was going to be pushed through without getting any other bids.

    Because of my continued efforts, the RFP was sent out. The monthly meeting was cancelled for the month that the RFP was released and no opportunity to discuss the RFP was given to the commission. I still to this day feel that the RFP was not submitted for an appropriate length of time (less than 30 days) and that the city should not enter into a contract with a company when they have only received one bid, which is an opinion that was echoed by at least one City Council member.’

    As to Dr. Dake’s statement “Why would the City Council, in their infinite wisdom, appoint a vendor from the Airport to the Airport Commission” (I notice a few realtors have been appointed to P&Z and this has not resulted in significant controversy.) For far too long the Airport Commission has been derived of members who own aircraft and view the airport as their “personal playground” The interests of the merchants have never been effectively represented. The weight of the Airport Commission should be composed mostly of people who work, have a vested interest and participate in everyday activities at the airport; these people know what the airport needs to make the airport economically self sufficient. Since day one of my appointment I have been met with animosity and resistance from a few specific Airport Commissioners because I was appointed to the Commission and am not already a member of their private club.

    I am an independent voice and I speak for the viability of the airport and for the people who depend on the airport for their livelihood. I cannot help that my opinion is unpopular. I do not like being the only one to speak out publicly against these inequities. I am not the only one who feels that it is time for fresh people on the Airport Commission.

    I don’t think the commissioners are engaging in illegal activities and I don’t believe that they mean to benefit financially by their votes on the commission. I’m not alleging that there is anything “sinister going on in smoke filled rooms” as Commissioner Soechting suggested. I don’t think Soechting or Dake have anything to do with the decision process that I’m complaining about, all they do is vote in agreement with the Chairman who presents the commission with the proposals that he wants approved. If a proposal does not win the favor of the Chairman it does not get heard by the commission.

    Anyone seeking evidence to corroborate what I have said here should submit an open records request to the city and listen to the tapes of the last three commission meetings themselves. The meetings when these issues erupted were on February 2nd, April 6th, and June 15. I would make special note of some of the off-hand remarks made by the commissioners. The Meetings for January, March, May, and July were all cancelled by the Chairman. The cost is $2.50 for a cassette tape.

    Respectfully Submitted,
    Shaune Maycock

  2. “I notice a few realtors have been appointed to P&Z and this has not resulted in significant controversy”

    Can’t argue with that !

  3. Mr. Maycock seems to be concerned deeply, both with his responsibility to the community and his desire to see the airport prosper, even if, or maybe because, it is being “privatized.” I also hope everybody remembers who bought and paid for everything out there except the rolling stock and other specialized equipment.

    Not at all a bad idea to INSIST, if possible, on open and competitive bidding on public projects. Competition, along with smart decisions on the City’s part, will inevitably give us the most for less. If the provider turns out, indeed, to be the sole source of services, etc., then the contract should be entirely and emphatically built on that basis, with contract lengths (unlike the huge 40-YEAR LCRA entanglement that was just guaranteed for us, by us, without much public scrutiny until then ink was dry, likely not even then) made in short enough increments to guarantee a new scrubbing now and again. Companies don’t last forever, and their business changes character over time, unlike signed and binding contracts, Be nice to sort of float alongside them; that way we can nourish the ones that excel at public work (I think here of the Lions Club) and pay off for us. And dismiss lackluster performers politely but firmly, without going through the intricate ballet of contract-breaking or the agony of waiting and weeping until one runs out. And of course, every contract should have some “recovery of defaults” and penalties for nonperformance on specific tasks and expectations. And no scamming for “contingencies,” which are added onto every contract for services or goods, sometimes even discounted from the start just to HAVE the low bid.

    Maybe Mr. Maycock and Mr. Gibson are mistaken, on the other hand, about this particular contract. Maybe some Commissioner(s) or trusted airport denizens just talked and agreed that the proposed contractor was the best in the bidness, or the only likely bidder. Maybe City Staff had its thumbs on the scale, for some–even a good–reason. Thirty days posting does seem like a very short time to take such complicated and highly competitive bid responses, since there CAN’T be a huge crowd of companies that do this stuff. Might take a while for word to filter out, unless the Manager or other player has a really big, effective network. I can vouch at least for Mr. Nash in this regard– knows EVERYBODY. To a lesser degree, that goes for others in the aviation game whom we all know.

    None of this bears on the main point, which Maycock seems to be making fairly clearly. I don’t personally relish the combined thought of our community and, say, Halliburton, which is the most noted example of destructive “no-bid” contracting. They have pillaged our whole country–actually, at one early point, had supposedly LOST (as in, “I’ve misplaced my glasses” lost) $10B in cash US money. Radical, but real, example, but the public principle is exactly the same.

    The APC and the Council will eventually settle their respective hash. But there are lots more contracts out there to be carefully let. Somebody needs to watch the fenceline, maybe even several people. It is less about practice than about the policy driving it and the behavior of those we depend on to work for us all. Or, to be crass and blunt, it’s also (Hope not primarily!) about the money, not the sociology.

  4. I submitted a proposal to the interim airport manager seven months ago and it has been ignored. I submitted additional information as the city requested and still wait for a response. I complained at the recent special meeting that my proposal was overlooked while the Texas Aviation Partners went straight to council. Commissioner Soechting suggested that the proposal languished because of some inadequacies with my paperwork, but what he fails to realize is that the proposal that was submitted was modeled after the proposal he submitted two years ago for a project he entitled “Just Fueling Around.” The city saw no problem with that proposal and was approved by the Commission and by Council, of course the Chairman was in favor of Soechting’s proposal. I can see why it went through as easily as the proposal from Texas Aviation Partners.

    This points to something that has been very detrimental to the airport for at least the last decade, balance of power. One person holds the power to present council and commission with proposals and he only presents that which he favors. I have been told to accept this as “status quo,” but I won’t. It might not be illegal, but it’s absolutely wrong and I don’t think we (the collective city tax-payers) who fund airport activities should put up with it any longer.

    Furthermore, this airport is what is called “federally obligated.” In short that mean that we risk losing funding for our 2 million dollar CIP, dubbed “North Side Development” and risk having to pay back the FAA the cost for our pretty new tower if our city gets caught restricting competition or supporting or protecting a monopoly. It’s called an “Exclusive Rights Violation” and it could be a big (expensive) problem for the city.

    I have made every effort to inform the city of their responsibilities in this regard, but I have been ignored as well. Anyone wishing to learn about “Exclusive Rights Violation” can go to and search for Advisory Circular 5190, which refers to Exclusive Rights and Minimum Standards.

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