Baton Rouge Business Report

Will Baton Rouge “think different” and consider all of the talent available in America to lead its airport—or promote the No. 2 as it has often done?, Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister asks in his latest column.

“Metro Councilman Trae Welch, a member of the airport commission, a year ago said a national search committee would be selected. He misled us,” McCollister writes. “Now he says, ‘We’ve had a 16-year search with Ralph [Hennessy] under Anthony [Marino]. We’ve seen what he is able to do. Why do we need a search for someone who isn’t from here?’ Others in town seem to have their reasons.”

But McCollister notes not everyone agrees with Welch’s sentiment. Among those who support a national search are Airport Commissioners Jim Ellis, who served three years as chairman, Andrew McCandless—who resigned amid this controversy—and chair Cleve Dunn Jr. So does Metro Councilwoman Barbara Freiberg, who will introduce the item to the council today for a vote later this month, and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

“I agree and believe the citizens deserve a national search,” he writes.

Also in his column, McCollister addresses the recent controversy over some NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality.

“I believe the players are wrong, and find it disrespectful and an inappropriate forum to express one’s personal politics,” he writes. “Sure, I believe in the First Amendment, but fans pay good money to come see a football game, not to attend a political rally by athletes, many of whom I’m guessing didn’t even vote in the last election.”

Ironically, McCollister says, what has been lost in all the controversy are the reasons behind former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest: police brutality and social injustice in America.

“Many would be willing to have that debate, but he chose the wrong venue to protest and turned fans into enemies,” he writes. “No player, politician or person is bigger than the flag and anthem. Only God himself. It appears most of the player’s recent protest came from mere reaction to a hostile speech and tweets by Trump.”

McCollister also reminds citizens to vote on Saturday, when races for state treasurer, Public Service Commission, Baton Rouge City Judge and one East Baton Rouge Parish school board seat will be on the ballot, as well as three proposed amendments to our state constitution.

“You may have to vote in the morning due to an afternoon game at Tiger Stadium, or road trip to Jackson, Mississippi, for Jaguar fans. Regardless, find the time to make your voice heard,” McCollister writes. “Study the candidates and issues, and exercise your right to vote.”