Patrick Tuohey
The Show-Me Institute has detailed conflicts and other problems with the Kansas City Airport Terminal Advisory Group's credibility. To make matters worse, we just learned that one of the group’s leaders has been secretly meeting with the airport's public relations firm.

On a Sept. 30 invoice obtained through an open records request, Global Prairie listed this item: “Discuss ongoing community dialogue opportunities with Bob Berkebile and team.” Berkebile, the co-chairman of the Advisory Group, leads the architecture firm BNIM and is clearly a fan of the new terminal proposal. He did not invite other members of the advisory group in on this meeting; they are not the “team” mentioned in the invoice. Berkebile did not even inform members of the Advisory Group that he was meeting with the airport's public relations firm. We don't know what was discussed.

A few months before, Berkebile and co-chair David Fowler asked Advisory Group members not to engage in public forums. On July 11, 2013, KCPT and the Citizens Association partnered with the Kansas City Library to host a panel discussion on the proposal to build a new airport terminal and Kansas City International Airport (MCI). Members of the Advisory Group were invited to participate, but received an email the day before from Fowler and Berkebile stating that:
Participating in forums, like this one, might unintentionally give the perception that the Advisory Group has taken a hard position and, as such, devalue the work of the group as a whole.  Therefore, Bob Berkebile and I, as co-chairs, are asking the members of the Advisory Group not to hinder these groups from having forums but not to participate on those forums at this time.

It is a fair request that Advisory Group members not partake in matters that might impact the groups' legitimacy. Unfortunately, Berkebile's subsequent surreptitious meeting with the airport's public relations team gives exactly "the perception that the Advisory Group has taken a hard position and, as such, devalue[s] the work of the group as a whole." That is unfortunate.

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About the Author

Patrick Tuohey
Patrick Tuohey
Senior Fellow of Municipal Policy

Patrick Tuohey works with taxpayers, media, and policymakers to foster understanding of the conse