Steve Austria is no Dave Hobson: Airfields and tax dollars

By this fall, Ohio will have two dead airports. Both have received considerable tax payer support. The DHL facility at the former Rickenbacker AFB is DOA, which will be “donated” back to the State (note- this is an easy way to say they are walking away from a tax bill). And while long ago, this airport would have made an excellent regional airport for Cincy, Columbus and Dayton- that ship has long sailed. Since then, Dayton has lost both the Piedmont Hub and the Emery Air Freight business, Columbus is still a minor player and Cincinnati still has Delta- but makes passengers pay dearly to fly out (it’s often cheaper to board in Dayton- fly to Cincy and then connect than straight out of Cincy).

No matter how much more money goes into Wilmington, the major Air Freight carriers have made their moves and aren’t coming back. Unfortunately- this leaves huge warehouse and distribution equipment as well as depot service facilities without much opportunity except for a few flights a day to the main hubs. Eventually- these businesses too will move.

On the other side of things- we have the totally redundant Springfield Air National Guard base which Dave Hobson managed to get some large earmarks before he left office. No one could explain why we had a separate F-16 base a minute away from WPAFB in the first place, yet, it was funded with millions of dollars for construction after the decision to move the F-16’s to Toledo- leaving the only operation there a “training base” for foreign air forces. Excuse me? The government funds a school to train other air forces- so they can buy our planes? That’s not what our tax dollars are for.

Apparently, Springfield wasn’t even competitive, as we now learn:

Singapore won’t train its fighter pilots at the Springfield Air National Guard Base.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in September that Singapore was considering training here.

Rather it will send its students to Tucson, Ariz., to learn to fly F-16s, the Ohio Adjutant General’s Office learned Monday, Jan. 4.

Base personnel were told of the decision Tuesday.

The training costs between $900,000 and $1.2 million less per student in Tucson, said Mark Wayda, vice chief of staff of the Ohio National Guard.

“It really is purely economics,” he said.

via Singapore pilots not coming to local base.

How much money did we squander on this Hobson earmark? Now, as the jobs go- and the buildings get mothballed- shouldn’t we do an afteraction investigation on who got paid in the last round of earmarks for stuff that wasn’t needed? Those tax dollars could have been invested in a regional asset that was really an asset- instead of another pet project of Congressman Earmark (Hobson).

And while Steve Austria is holding his line against earmarks, is he really doing his district any favors as yet another major employer goes literally South?

If we held Congressman accountable for their pet projects, maybe the region would be in better shape. In the meantime, we have a few extra empty airfields. Maybe we’ll get lucky and global warming will submerge the private airfield in Florida where John Travolta lives- and he’ll need a new place to park his 707.

But, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

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