This fight over Chick-fil-A at San Antonio International Airport is such a waste of time and money. Jazz and Karen have already written about the ‘controversy’ and the fact Texas is going to investigate San Antonio’s decision to say, “No,” to Chick-fil-A at the airport. The feds might also get involved – which is more ridiculous. Attorney General Ken Paxton is looking to score political points by pushing the power of government to ‘right’ the wrong made by the San Antonio City Council – much like Councilman Roberto Treviño’s decision to hoist the ‘equality’ standard by successfully ramming the original ban through. Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right – unless it’s politics where there’s a “war for the soul of the country” or some such nonsense.
One would think both politicians would have better things to do. San Antonio is getting ready to negotiate a contract with the firefighters association – after voters decided to (wrongly) pass a change to the City Charter giving San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association the sole power to request binding arbitration. Paxton is supposed to go to trial at some point on fraud charges – which seem more politically motivated than not.
Yet, both sides are dug in on this Chick-fil-A thing. Paxton sees it as religious liberty issue, while Treviño thinks it’s about equality. The actual issue is the fact government, in general, has too much power.
San Antonio International Airport is owned by the city of San Antonio – meaning the City Council gets to approve which businesses get to operate inside the terminals. The political controversy wouldn’t exist if the government divested itself from deciding who gets to set up shop or decided to sell the airport to a private company (an entirely radical idea which would cause heads to explode).
There is precedent for both. The New York Times noted last month more and more private companies are getting involved in airport projects – including a brand new airport a bit north of Seattle.
Thanks to private investment, Paine Field is finally set to offer air service to the public. A sleek, new, $40 million two-gate terminal was built by Propeller Airports, a Seattle company, and commercial flights are set to begin this month.
Brett Smith, Propeller’s founder and chief executive, expects that travelers will be attracted by the convenience of avoiding traffic jams near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. “No reason why tax dollars should be used to build passenger travel while there’s private-sector money ready and willing to do it,” he said…
The Paine Field Passenger Terminal, which will serve Alaska Airlines starting early this month, and United Airlines later in March, is just one example of how private money is affecting airport offerings.
Through a subsidiary, the Schiphol Group of the Netherlands owns Terminal 4 at Kennedy International Airport; American Airlines owns the airport’s Terminal 8. The Private Suite at Los Angeles International Airport opened nearly two years ago, offering those who can afford it a luxurious respite from the crowds at the main terminals. And Denver International Airport is updating the ticket counters, security screening areas, restaurants and shops at Jeppesen Terminal with the help of private money.
The Schiphol Group also runs all three airports in The Netherlands although the Dutch government owns most – if not all – of the company. There has been a push to completely privatize Schiphol; however, the state is against giving up control (a big surprise to no one). Turning airport operations over to a private company would keep the Chick-fil-A political kerfuffle from happening because it would be seen as a business decision, not a political one. People would no doubt rail against the airport one way or the other, but they could vote with their wallet by traveling to Austin to fly.
San Antonio could also create an airport board of directors to govern the facility – if they didn’t want to give up ownership of the airport – much like what is done by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth with DFW International Airport or several Dallas-area municipalities with Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Potential problems still exist. The obvious one is the creation of a new bureaucracy with its own budget requests of the city. This could end up causing more strain on the city’s finances – not to mention the potential of cronyism to rear its ugly head even more.
The second one is more troublesome. Let’s say San Antonio decides to appoint a board of directors to the airport. What would happen if the board decided to not bend to the will of the City Council? Would the Council suddenly fire the entire board for giving Chick-fil-A (or some other food outlet) a contract? The city of Dallas removed four Dallas Area Rapid Transit board members in 2017 because they dared support a suburban rail line over the City Council’s wishes for a downtown line. Independence only goes so far when it comes to government.
There’s no reason for the stupidity by the San Antonio City Council over Chick-fil-A to spiral into something involving more and more government. The ultimate solution lies in the hands of outraged voters who can decide whether they want to boot out everyone holding up the banner of “coerced tolerance.” Or they can push the current City Council to backtrack on the decision to kick Chick-fil-A to the curb or, better yet, find a private company to run the airport for them.
That would solve the problem, save everyone money, and keep stupid decisions by politicians to a minimum.