Indianapolis Airport chief faces first-year review


Apr. 23--Indianapolis Airport Authority chief John D. Clark III, dogged by a legal inquiry into work records at his former job in Florida, is about to get a report card on his first year as head of the airport here.

A committee of the Airport Authority board has begun the chief executive's job review. The full board is expected to vote in May on the review and his pay, which could include bonuses of 18.5 percent or more in 2010 on top of his $270,000-a-year salary.

However, with pay and benefits frozen for other airport staffers this year, Clark said he won't take a bonus this year. He did receive a $37,400 bonus for 2009.

The 49-year-old Clark is receiving strong support from Indianapolis board members. He was hired, in part, for his international connections and to lead a new management style in a recession-bitten era.

Still, a legal inquiry in Florida has put him under a cloud.

The Florida state's attorney in Jacksonville, where Clark was chief of the airport for 14 years, subpoenaed his time sheets for his last three years on the job. Records for his three job-interview visits to Indianapolis early in 2009 also were subpoenaed.

Rich Komando of the Florida state's attorney's office declined to say why authorities want Clark's work schedule or identify the source of complaints about him. Clark has denied any wrongdoing.

In an unrelated matter, Clark faces a reckless-driving citation from the February morning after the Super Bowl in Miami, when he was clocked at 135 mph in his Porsche on I-95 between Miami and Jacksonville.

Indianapolis airport board President Michael Stayton said the board fully supports Clark's business decisions here, and he thinks Clark's travel expenses here have been appropriate despite critics in Florida who raised questions about his extensive international travel from Jacksonville.

In his first year in Indianapolis, he has expensed 23 business trips at a cost of $36,700.

Two of those trips were for international travel related to his work as immediate past president of the Airports Council International -- North America. He traveled to Manchester, England, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at a cost of $10,500.

While in Jacksonville, Clark was ACI's chairman, and his international travel was more extensive. He made separate business trips to places such as Paris; London; Shanghai; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Cairo, all within a year and paid for by the Florida airport.

Stayton sees the travel as important in raising the profile of the airport.

"We've got to use our competitive advantages to become the airport of choice in the Midwest. John's going to have to reach out beyond our national borders to do that," Stayton said.

Clark says the trips are a legitimate part of his job.

"I have been active in this industry for a number of years. That requires travel. What I believe it brings to Indianapolis is a seat at the table when global and national policies are being debated and discussed as it relates to aviation," Clark said.

Call Star reporter Bruce C. Smith at (317) 444-6081.