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April 18, 2024

Quad City Times editorial wrong on Airport Authority

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On April 22, 2018


When does insisting laws be followed translate to “turf wars, petty squabbling, mud slinging, and attacking?”

When the local newspaper says it does – and especially when they can publish it within days of their target being elected as Rock Island County Republican Party Chairman.

In an epic failure of an Editorial, the Quad-City Times Editorial Board appears to have chosen to ignore the law governing the airport authority, and instead attacked the person insisting laws be followed.

One issue brought up was that County Board Member Drue Mielke voted in favor of the appointment…and then decided to challenge it. This is wrong. Mielke and the other votes in favor of the appointment, voted in favor of it “as long as Mr. Bohnsack lives in the MAA District.” Which he clearly doesn’t, making the appointment resolution invalid on its face.

Another issue brought up in the editorial was the appointment of Airport Authority Commissioner Jim Bohnsack. This editorial stated “While common sense might seemingly require Bohnsack’s residency within one of the eight towns taxed by the airport, the law makes no mention of such a thing.” They are technically correct (since they strategically inserted the word “taxed”) that the language in that the law makes no mention of residency of one of the townships “taxed” by the airport – but failed to state the law does mandate residency within the Authority territory.

So, Bohnsack is ineligible to be a commissioner base on where his residency is located.

Then, to go on and say the issue would be moot because a bill might pass allowing the Authority to tax more area (expand its territory) – actually proves the point that Bohnsack is not currently eligible.

According to the Airport Authorities Act, Jim Bohnsack is not eligible to be appointed as commissioner of the authority. Bohnsack does not reside within the territory and the mandatory information was not included on his appointment.

  • “must reside within the territory of the authority” (70 ILCS 5/3.1(d))
  • “All appointments…shall be in writing and shall indicate the legal residence of the person appointed and whether or not he resides within or without a municipality having a population of 5,000 or more” (70 ILCS 5/3.2)
  • “each commissioner shall reside within the Authority and shall continue to reside therein during his term of office” (70 ILCS 5/3.4)

Bohnsock does not live within the Authority territory. The Authority territory is defined as those Townships who have chosen to participate in the authority. This can be found on the tax rolls – those property owners who pay real estate taxes to the Authority reside within its territory. It is not an arbitrary boundary where only part of the authority territory gets taxed.

Another issue that WILL play a roll in any federal funds provided by the FAA, even those coming from the FAA thru the IDOT Division of Aeronautics, is that a requirement in receiving such Federal grants is that the Authority must be in compliance with all state laws. Until Bohnsack is removed from office, the Authority cannot comply with state law – the Airport Authorities Act, Sections 70 ILCS 5/3.1(d), 3.2, and 3.4.

All federal funding of this airport is now in jeopardy, and we will file complaints to the FAA alleging this airport is not in compliance with grant assurance requirements and is not eligible to receive any future federal funds until they can come into compliance with state law.

This is not our first rodeo; the Edgar County Airport is still fighting after 4 years to receive a federal grant – one that we have consistently filed complaints against due to the County’s failure to comply with state law. The FAA listens…even when IDOT and local authorities do not. See articles on the Edgar County Airport grant funding (here, here, here, and here)

Jim Bohnsack knows the right thing to do is resign immediately, just like Beth Whisman did with the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority (here).

We will work to see that he either resigns or is removed from office. That is what the law requires.

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  • Dave
    Posted at 20:07h, 22 April

    The QC Times doesn’t report the unbiased truthful news, they supervise formation of public opinion with their fabrications

  • Tracey
    Posted at 21:03h, 22 April

    Well that is what “journalists” and news outlets do.

  • Jannie
    Posted at 21:26h, 22 April

    I have found our local paper similar – they find a cause or “side” they wish to support and then only report things that support that. Print media will completely ignore any of the otherside of the issue. In fact in our town the park District is their “fair-haired” boy that can do no wrong –
    In this Airport situation – I would suppose the person could move within the authority and satisfy that requirement.

  • Robert O. Bogue
    Posted at 21:30h, 22 April

    Illinois became a block grant state in the mid to late 80’s…..thereby giving…..what is known as the Illinois Division of Aeronautics……… the authority to disperse FAA funds in compliance with FAA Grant Assurances (and FAA regulations).
    The FAA retains the final oversight, approval of, and authority over FAA funds….. and insists that State Law be followed. FAA GRANT ASSURANCES which can easily be found on the internet requires those receiving FAA funds to agree and comply with them. Violating a State Law would be a clear violation of these Grant Assurances and cause the FAA to halt funding to an airport.

    In Edgar County, the FAA has repeatedly stepped in and halted funding approvals previously made by the Illinois Division of Aeronautics…………. when the facts prove grant assurances have been violated.
    At the present moment, Edgar County is in violation of Grant Assurances…largely because State Law requires Land Zoning for county run airports…and Edgar County has none. Never had any.

    Edgar County does not have FAA funding now, nor will it have in he foreseeable future unless it adopts land zoning.

    How the matter of the $6-10 million FAA dollars wrongfully spent in violation of Illinois Law…and what remedy is applied to those that wrongfully had their land seized in violation of Illinois Law….appears to be a matter still pending.

    Jim Bohnsack needs to follow the law and resign, if, for no other reason than for the good of airport.