New name floated for Broward airport chief

June 26, 2007

Jun. 26--After Broward's top candidate to run its main airport dramatically self-destructed last week on the basis of his rude e-mails, County Administrator Pam Brangaccio has made a new recommendation.

Brangaccio wants to hire Ronald Mathieu, now deputy executive director for the Little Rock National Airport and formerly an administrator at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Mathieu had originally been Brangaccio's top choice but he withdrew in May, citing personal reasons. Since Friday, Brangaccio approached Mathieu again and he expressed renewed interest.

Mathieu said he would be available to start in mid-August but would require an employment contract. A contract would guarantee Mathieu severance pay should the county choose to fire him in the future. The previous offer, to Richard Stephen Walsh, did not include a contract.

Brangaccio will ask county commissioners Tuesday for permission to bring an employment contract to the board at its Aug. 7 meeting. The commission doesn't meet in July.

After Mathieu and Brangaccio's second choice withdrew, she offered the job to Walsh, the director of the Palm Springs, Calif., airport who was fired in April. But after vulgar e-mails sent by Walsh bashing Broward officials were posted Friday at, Brangaccio withdrew the offer.

In the e-mails, Walsh called Brangaccio and other county officials or consultants "clueless." He also said the airport was "f-ked" up and plagued with financial problems.

County commissioners Tuesday also will discuss a request by commissioners Ilene Lieberman and John Rodstrom to investigate Walsh's allegations of mismanagement.

County commissioners are eager to hire a director to oversee a massive and controversial expansion of the airport. Some commissioners, though not all, have interviewed Mathieu.

Brangaccio had offered the job to Walsh for $175,000 a year; it's likely that she made Mathieu a similar financial offer, although that would likely have to be increased to more than $200,000.

The county's agreement with interim director Bob Bielek, formerly the deputy director, expires at the end of this month. Brangaccio doesn't want to continue that agreement and will have county administrators handle those duties during the next couple of months.

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