Virginia Gov fights to remove labor racketeer from MWAA board PERSONNEL
By Peter Samuel
2012-06-20: Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell has fired a labor racketeer from the board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) whose major source of revenue is the Dulles Toll Road - Dennis Martire, 48, the local Mid Atlantic region manager, vice president and member of the general executive board of LiUNA, the Laborers international Union of North America. Martire as an active union official had a clear conflict of interest in his position on the board of MWAA and had been using his position to insist on union-only contracting in various MWAA procurements.
Appointed four years ago for a six year term representing Virginia by Timothy Kaine, a Democrat governor beholden to labor unions, Martire pushed a socalled 'project labor agreement' for the Dulles Toll Road-funded Dulles Railline even though Virginia law is 'right-to-work' and prohibits contracting that insists on all-union employees, and abiding by union rules.
At one point the Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli was threatening prosecution of MWAA.
Martire was the leading advocate on the MWAA board of defying Virginia law on behalf of his union and others. As the Washington Post rather mildly opined: "Mr Martire, an official with the Laborers' International Union of North America, should have had the common sense to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest that his involvement created."
Anyway Gov McDonnell has removed not just the appearance but the reality of conflict of interest by firing the union official as a Virginia rep on the MWAA board and appointing to replace him Caren DeWitt Merrick, a Republican and marketing and management consultant at Bibury Partners of McLean VA. Merrick has played a major role in the business strategies of several high-tech startups in the Washington DC metro area, including America On Line (AOL.)
But Martire is not going quietly. He has filed a lawsuit claiming wrongful dismissal from his position on the MWAA board. And maybe he'll call union members out on strike against the MWAA if they won't seat him at the board meeting?
Meanwhile he has lost his battle for the union-only PLA, the board deciding June 6 to proceed in accordance with Virginia law without union encumbrance in an 11-1 vote, Martire being the sole remaining hold-out for granting the union monopoly powers.
The Washington Post also reports that Martire has pursued some Paul Violette style living-it-up at the expense of MWAA treating the authority as the Post put it as "a sort of high end travel agency." Their investigations showed that a year ago Martire spent nine days on the Italian island of Sardinia at the expense of MWAA - he billed conference expenses of $10,586 - ostensibly to attend a day and a half conference on small airports in Europe.
"Of the 160 or so delegates who registered for the event, he was almost the only American, according to conference organizers," the Washington Post reported. "And no wonder: The forum was irrelevant to U.S. airport executives."
The Post reported five conferences Martire had attended since 2010 and run up bills for the MWAA of $38,000. They said he took along a "companion" but the companion's expenses were not charged to the Authority.
Martire was also a principal exponent of fancier digs for the MWAA board and last year pushed for a $7.2m addition to its offices at Reagan National Airport including a $350k 'multimedia system.'
The new union aristocrats are entitled to their palaces!
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2004 that Martire was on a salary of $238,320 as a VP of LiUNA in the Washington DC office.
That Reagan National Airport board project was eventually shelved too.
BACKGROUND: MWAA is 4-government entity with a 13-person board of directors, five appointed by the Governor of Virginia, three by the President of the US, three by the Mayor of Washington DC, and two by the Governor of Maryland.
Formed in 1986 MWAA has operated US Government owned Reagan National and Washington Dulles International Airports under a 50 year lease since June 1987. November 1 2008 MWAA took over operation of the Dulles Toll Road from the state of Virginia and is attempting to finance construction of a $5b Metrorail line in the Toll Road corridor based on tollroad profits plus contributions from Fairfax and Loudoun County.