Airport Authority holds meeting on Monday


[lin_video src=×9&auto_next=1&auto_start=0&div_id=videoplayer-1366668797&height=480&page_count=5&pf_id=9624&show_title=1&va_id=4027600&width=640&windows=2 service=syndicaster width=640 height=480 div_id=videoplayer-1366668797 type=script]

[lin_video src=×9&auto_next=1&auto_start=0&div_id=videoplayer-1366672971&height=480&page_count=5&pf_id=9624&show_title=1&va_id=4027784&width=640&windows=2 service=syndicaster width=640 height=480 div_id=videoplayer-1366672971 type=script]BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Birmingham Airport Authority met again on Monday afternoon, and the chairwoman, Gaynell Hendricks, read a statement to the board and to the media claiming that the Authority has been completely responsive to media requests for information.

Hendricks said the Authority is being careful not to violate state or federal laws by releasing certain information.

“We will utilize practices and equipment that will ensure the safety as we work to complete this job,” Airport Authority chairwoman Gaynell Hendricks said. “We will continue to receive regular updates.”

The statement read:

I am sure you have seen online headlines, read stories in the newspaper or seen television reports regarding the media’s request for records related to the tragedy in the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on March 22.

This authority has made voluminous records and information available to the media, and will continue to do so.

The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is the public’s facility, and we will be transparent when it comes to the operation of the airport. However, some documents were not released immediately, because we will not jeopardize operations by haphazardly responding to requests that could potentially violate federal or state laws. Also some of the requested information was held by our general contractor and architect, and not the Airport Authority.

Let me tell you where we are with the release of information.

As you know, we made detailed reports available to the media on April 9. Prior to that time, we issued several statements with updated information related to the tragedy on March 22.

The Alabama Media Group on April 16 requested a Temporary Restraining Order seeking to compel the authority to quickly release information. Judge Houston Brown granted a TRO temporarily restraining the Authority from refusing to produce and further delay producing nine items requested by under the Alabama Open Records Act.

The Airport Authority made more than 800 pages of documents available on the same day the TRO was granted. Several broadcast stations came and viewed the documents and did stories. No one from The Birmingham News came to view document on that date, even though they had initiated the lawsuit.

We want to include all media, so when we make documents available, I think we should continue to share the information with all media.

The Birmingham News wrote an editorial regarding their open records request, however, it did not contain complete information. The Airport Authority sent a letter to the editor seeking to clarify some of the points last week, however, to our knowledge, that letter has not been printed in the newspaper or posted on the website.

On Friday, April 19, Maynard, Cooper & Gale, our attorneys, submitted a motion to dissolve the TRO, because we have made information available and we have even made attempts to retrieve the information from our general contractor and our architect that is not in our possession.

The judge will hear The Birmingham News’ motion for preliminary injunction on Wednesday, and he will also have a hearing on the motion to dissolve the TRO.

We have started work on the second phase of the terminal modernization project, and we will utilize practices and equipment that will ensure safety as we work to complete the job.

You will continue to receive regular updates and I will also provide periodic updates related to the AMG records requests.

On Friday, the Authority released an 888-page document of what the Authority calls “records and information.”

However, CBS42 reviewed the material and sought the opinion of a construction professional. The document largely consisted of pictures, schedules of construction and a few contract copies.

“The board is exercising care to be responsive, truthful and accurate in the information they release, but also living up to the requirements of state and federal law,” said Jim Goyer, the Authority’s attorney.

CBS42 tried to talk with members of the Authority before and after Monday’s meeting, but they had no comment.

The only response the Authority offered was a statement saying that they are being transparent.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

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