Miami-Dade's Interim Aviation Director to Step Down

Carlos Bonzon, Miami-Dade's interim aviation director, said Thursday he was no longer pursuing the permanent job.

Bonzon, who was named interim director last November following the forced resignation of Angela Gittens, had said in January he would like to compete for the position.

''Please be advised that I no longer wish to be considered for the permanent aviation director position,'' Bonzon said in a memo to George M. Burgess, the county manager.

''I have always enjoyed undertaking specially challenging assignments in times of need,'' the memo added. ''It certainly has been an honor for me to be interim aviation director, and I am very proud of my contributions to the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.''

The aviation director is one of the most powerful positions in Miami-Dade government. Duties include day-to-day operations of the airport, negotiations with the various airlines that serve it, and oversight of construction projects worth billions of dollars. In addition, the director is frequently the mediator between the private sector firms that serve the airport and the County Commission, which oversees it.

Bonzon couldn't be reached for comment Thursday evening, and a spokesman for the airport said only that Bonzon had withdrawn from consideration ''for personal reasons'' that weren't specified.

Burgess, in an interview, said he didn't know Bonzon's motivation. He said that, so far as the search committee is concerned, Bonzon was a viable candidate.

''Carlos has done a fine job,'' Burgess said. He expects Bonzon to stay with the county. ''I'm a big fan of his. I think he's ready to do whatever he needs to do.''

THE SEARCH BEGINS

Burgess said Thursday that the search for a new airport director could be completed as soon as next month.

''Our plan is to zero in on a final candidate, and we're hoping to have a selection by the end of April,'' he said.

Bonzon has been with Miami-Dade government more than 30 years and previously spent three years as assistant aviation director.

He has won a series of promotions and developed a reputation for taking on tough assignments. Before Gittens' resignation, for instance, then Assistant County Manager Bonzon was given responsibility for the airport's multibillion-dollar expansion program.

However, one black mark on his record was a controversy in the 1990s when, as building director for Miami-Dade, he allowed some construction at the Port of Miami to move forward without required permits and inspections.

Bonzon later surrendered his license to be a building official -- by that time he was with another department -- after a civil suit was filed by the state Department of Professional Regulation.

When he was tapped to fill in after Gittens resigned last November, Bonzon initially indicated he wasn't interested in the aviation director's job but soon had a change of heart.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' he told The Herald last December. ''There is no better place to work in Dade County than the airport. The airport is such a vibrant place, a happy place, an exciting place. There are so many different cultures. It never stops.''

CONTROVERSY

MIA has been racked by controversies and problems, however, including massive cost overruns on a $4.8 billion expansion program. It also fell to second place in passenger counts among Florida airports last year, behind Orlando.

The governance of the airport has also been controversial with some civic leaders pushing for an independent airport authority, although the county commission has refused to cede its control.

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