As a frequent traveler, I appreciate TIA. It is truly a joy, a great home airport. But I just don't get this affection for Joe Lapano, the TIA Chief Executive. Neither does Joe Henderson:
He got a $50,000 raise in January 2012 after one year on the job, but by the fall his pay increased by another $15,000. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s an annual take-home of $315,000, way more than his equivalent makes for running the much-busier Orlando International Airport.
Apparently, that’s not enough.
Last month, the airport’s governing board studied how to give Lopano — yep — more. Late Tuesday, we learned there is a proposal to sock another $500,000 into his retirement account if he will just please STAY HERE for at least five years. The board will take this up today.
“I’m getting really tired of this, candidly,” he said. “If Joe spent more time doing his job and less time worrying about his salary, we might have more flights. For a minimum, we ought to take a month and study this so we don’t ramrod this through.The Trib editorial board is also weighing in:
“All we are doing is paying for potential. If I were Joe, I’d let my performance speak for itself and then bring it up when his contract is due. Derek Jeter doesn’t run to the Steinbrenners to ask for an extra million dollars every time he hits a home run.”
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority has good reason to want Tampa International Airport Chief Executive Joe Lopano to stay on the job.
He’s brought energy, innovation and vision to the operation. He’s diversified revenues and cut costs. His strong marketing skills have proved valuable as the airport pursues new routes and he is strongly engaged in the region’s economic development efforts.
But Lopano’s impressive record does not justify the board abandoning its fiscal responsibility in its quest to keep him from exploring other job possibilities.
A proposal to add more than $500,000 to Lopano’s retirement if he stays five years is excessive.There is plenty of work to be done at TIA. Were's the nearby gas station? How about more direct flights to the west coast? Forget about the time wasting international flight chase. Orlando and Miami have that market locked up, like it or not. We can only participate when we subsidize international flights. Not a good idea.
If the grass is greener on the other side for Lopano, great, he should have that option. In the mean time, I'm sure there are other up and comers in the industry worthy and able to handle TIA. It's not as if Lopano is the only person who can do this job... is it?
Perhaps that Orlando guy. He'd get a raise, has the experience, and the moving and living expenses would be pretty cheap.