A Plane Case of Quid Pro Quo

Commissioner Lori Parrish opposed a rent increase for small airlines. A major supporter is a lobbyist for the airlines. You figure it out.

Yet she continues to insist that the airport rate hikes were "terrible." She also insists that she was not lobbied by Milledge but rather by another representative from Hudson General, whose name she can't recall.

Bill Sherry was clearly furious about how Parrish and her colleagues treated him. According to a knowledgeable source, Sherry offered his resignation to county administrator Roger Desjarlais at the end of the September 28 evening meeting -- only to withdraw it the next morning. At least two of the commissioners realized that night how upset he was.

"We talked earlier about the loss of key personnel," said commissioner Cowan, after he and his colleagues voted 6-1 (Rodstrom voted no) to approve the rate increases. "The human psyche being what it is, those things said positive about us never soothe us quite as much as those negative things tend to wound us. I'd like to tell Mr. Sherry how much I appreciate the work he's done on behalf of Broward County." Chairperson Ilene Lieberman, who had criticized Sherry earlier, chimed in, albeit a little less warmly. "Mr. Sherry, Commissioner Cowan is not alone. A number of us commended you on what you've done at the airport…. No one is perfect, but we know you are a quick learner."

After Lori Parrish scolded aviation director Bill Sherry for not giving small airlines earlier notice of a rent hike, he offered his resignation
Melissa Jones
After Lori Parrish scolded aviation director Bill Sherry for not giving small airlines earlier notice of a rent hike, he offered his resignation

Parrish, however, couldn't leave well enough alone. "Bill, I disagree with [you on] this issue, but I don't disagree that you inherited the [rate notification] process. And if I had to make a motion of confidence or give you a raise, heck, I'm in a good mood."

Sherry, who is paid $114,000 a year but lacks a fixed-term contract, would not comment on whether he had offered his resignation. But he says he met individually with all seven commissioners after the meeting to discuss what happened. "The commissioners had had a long day, and I think they got tired and maybe said some things that ought not to have been said," he says. "They expressed apologies to me, and I've accepted the apologies. We all make mistakes. The matter is closed, and now we need to go on with the business of running an airport."

He chose his words carefully when asked how he gets along generally with the commissioners. "There are meetings that go well and others that have gotten tense," he said. "We deal with large issues, and when dealing with seven commissioners, each of whom has a different perspective, sometimes the conversations get rather involved and contentious."

Willie Horton, who recently left his job as Broward's director of environmental services for a similar but better-paying post with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, diplomatically echoed Sherry's comments. "There were challenging times with Commissioner Parrish from time to time, but that was her right. I personally have not taken offense, although at times it may get irritating." Asked how working in St. Louis compares with Broward, he said there is a big difference between working for an appointed board that focuses on sewers, and working for seven elected Broward commissioners who have conflicting agendas. "The sewer district board is extremely unified and able to work out issues in a very rapid manner. It was a little more difficult to get consensus in Broward."

Parrish denies that she and her colleagues have driven anyone off with their hectoring, attributing the departures of Horton and other department chiefs to the lure of bigger bucks. She now claims not to know that Sherry was upset and had offered to resign. "Bill's a great guy and has done an excellent job. I think he took it personally. But I was arguing on the issue. It wasn't personal."

Contact Harris Meyer at his e-mail address:


« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help