Lydia Kennard, the former Los Angeles airports director who resigned at the end of January to work for an aviation-related real estate company, was granted a lucrative consulting contract Monday.
Calling Kennard a "superstar" and "not replicable," the city Board of Airport Commissioners approved the one-year contract, with a two-year extension option, at its regular meeting. The board had modified its original deal, however, after about a dozen people spoke against bringing Kennard back.
Most of the speakers were residents of Playa del Rey, Westchester or Inglewood, communities that are near Los Angeles International Airport and directly affected by it.
As a consultant, Kennard will serve as an expert on facilities planning and development, air traffic regionalization and property development for Los Angeles World Airports, the city's airport agency. She will be paid $250 an hour, with a $200,000-a-year maximum.
Saying they had no personal grudges against Kennard, some of those objecting to the contract argued that her new job as chief executive at a real estate company created a conflict of interest because she would be consulting on development issues from which she might benefit. Others said the contract amount was excessive.
"We are definitely opposed to someone who didn't finish the job and is now coming back for twice the pay," said Dianne Callahan of Playa del Rey.
The board had proposed a two-year contract with a one-year extension option but, after the objections, adjusted the term and added a requirement of monthly staff reports on Kennard's services.
Airport board President Alan Rothenberg said Kennard brings knowledge and skills needed by the airport agency.
To residents who expressed concern that Kennard would help LAX expand, Rothenberg said her role is not to set policy.
"It's us controlling her, not her controlling us," Rothenberg said. "She's going to be doing the things that we ask her to."
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