Kennard Connection May Make LA Job Candidates Wary

The shadow of former airport chief Lydia Kennard appears to be affecting the search for the next director of Los Angeles World Airports.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- who invited several City Council members to join him last week in interviewing three finalists for the post -- is said to be nearing a decision on an appointment.

The three candidates are Gina Marie Lindsay from Seattle-Tacoma Airport; Thella Bowens, president of the San Diego Airport Authority; and Susan Kurland, a former associate administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

All three are said to have done well in interviews, but several have questioned the continuing presence of Kennard and how much freedom they would have running LAX and the city's other airports.

Kennard has served twice as executive director of LAWA and was credited with helping resolve lawsuits over a massive modernization plan for Los Angeles International Airport. At the same time, however, she has not won any friends among the airlines, which are suing LAX over proposed rent increases.

For Villaraigosa, Kennard is seen as a valuable adviser, and the Airport Commission recently awarded her a $200,000-a-year consulting contract on matters involving LAX.

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