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Published: Monday, 12/9/2013 - Updated: 9 months ago

COMMENTARY

Treece boys not ready for prime time

BY KEITH C. BURRIS
COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE

I am trying to come up with the right comparison for the Treece Boys — Dock, and his sons Dock David and Ben. The Treece Boys are the local investment counselors who want to take over the Toledo Express Airport, now run by the Port Authority and owned by the city.

Mini Madoffs?

Music men, as in Prof. Harold Hill of The Music Man? He said you could learn to play music by thinking about it.

Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and their neo-conservative foreign policy advisers? They developed the definitive mix of arrogance and ignorance in our time. They tried to “save” a country they knew nothing about by bombing the hell out of it.

Arrogance and ignorance are a dangerous combination. The Treeces are arrogant enough to want to run an enterprise they, manifestly, know little about.

And also arrogant enough to think they need no help. The Treeces put down the Port Authority’s management, which has been good over time. The airport is suffering from trends in the industry and in the economy that the port can’t control and the Treeces can’t change.

The Treeces want to take over anyway.

They strike me as little big men. Would-be rainmakers.

They want to take over the airport, but they have yet to release their total business plan.

They want to take over the airport, but they have no experience in running airports.

They want to take over the airport, though the things they say — the air base will probably close, we could make the airport a repair center and build a giant hangar for this at minimal risk, pilots will soon be passe — don’t seem to check out. Indeed, they are flat wrong.

For example, there is actually a shortage of pilots.

They want to take over the airport, but they think this can be done overnight. Federal rules and local politics make that impossible. They want to take over the airport but they don’t want to be bothered with City Council or the press.

They say they will release their whole plan if The Blade is nicer to them.

Are these three for real?

The Treece boys say we should just trust them.

Trust these guys?

They are wannabe movers and shakers — wheeler-dealers who cannot wheel and will not deal.

Mind you, Toledo should face the airport situation. The airport is atrophying, and we need to consider new ideas.

Maybe privatization is an option.

Maybe we at least need to create an airport authority.

One long-term member of the Port Authority told me we should hire a person who has had success at a similar size airport, such as Akron-Canton: Investigate best practices and employ what we learn. It is amazing how seldom this is done in cities when there are so many other similar cities with similar problems.

We need fresh thinking and outside the box thinking and the involvement of entrepreneurs.

But the Treeces aren’t the answer. They aren’t even a positive suggestion.

The Treeces are low on information, humility, and allies, but long on bluster. They are getting their name brand out there but they come off looking more like play actors than players.

They are trying to bluff and bully the city into giving them what they want.

We should tell them: No dice.

Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.



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