Back to the Drawing Board

11 11 2009

We interrupt ‘Reflections from New York’ for a nice dose of Good Ol’ Boyism.

Yes, I’ve been watching ‘Dallas’ re-runs again. They don’t make television programs like that anymore.


The Ewings

“Maybe it’s because when gearing up for a trip to Big D, one must get into character,” Barry said.

Of course, Barry does not venture into the American heartland, least we remember.

I, however, am so embracing this cross-country trek — destination Las Vegas. My travel partner is Barry’s polar opposite in perspective, but we’ll get into “Mr. Smith” a little later.

Back in Panama City, they are planning to move the airport. No easy task.

My buddy Jim loves to go to these “Airport Authority” meetings. I’ve tagged a long a few times and they can be pretty damn entertaining.

Contractors, lawyers, old fogies, slutty TV news reporters, these meetings usually have a wide variety of characters.  They’re held on the site of the out-going airport in Panama City proper.

The new airport is being built in the western zone of Bay County, much to the chagrin of quite a number of people. People who voted their concerns about the move in a winning ballot referendum.

But elections don’t count down here in Florida anyway.

So a new airport is being built and the “Authority” is handling operations. The “Authority” in its original form was a group of old white men, but not the native redneck type — those handled the on-site operations — but men of wealth and privilege who found Panama City on a map well before Joe Francis was ever a gleam in his “Girls Gone Wild” mama’s eye.

It’s fun to watch the blue jeaned contractors argue with the “Authority” over sod prices and grass growing. The lead contractor just so happens to be a NASCAR team owner, which makes matters more interesting, especially after a winning race weekend.

Damn, I miss NASCAR. Some of my best times as a journalist.

Nevertheless, at today’s “Authority” meeting, we learned about FBOs — Fixed Based Operators. The president of one of these firms told the “Authority” that this whole move was very poorly planned.

FBOs don’t like to have to dig up oil tanks and deal with the Department of Environmental Protection.

In other business, a name for this new airport was floated to the public. Something about Northwest Florida and Beaches.

Jim and I thought the name sucked and so did the car dealer and former Marine fighter pilot, both “Authority” members from Panama City.

New York has JFK, Houston has George Bush, Paris has Charles de Gaulle and Orange County has John Wayne.

Now, I realize that Panama City doesn’t have a superstar on that level — Yet — but I tend to agree with the Chevy dealer when he says Panama City has “brandable equity.”

Which brings us to the trip to Big D and beyond.

On this Westward trip with Mr. Smith, I am quite sure, we’re going to find out just what kind of “brandable equity” Panama City has earned.

GQ pitch

16 10 2009

This week I wrote a query letter to the Editor-in-Chief at GQ.

If nothing else, this provided some sense of accomplishment. I pitched my story, inserted a cute photo and said a little prayer before dropping the letter in the mail.

The hook is the airport. Like it or not, this is a big deal here….a major undertaking and a shift in the region.

I am reminded of a quote from the great President Theodore Roosevelt: “Conservation means development as much as it does protection.”

Will a fashion magazine be interested in this story?

Airport Authority Board Meeting

24 09 2009

Went to PFN Board meeting on Tuesday. Lots of major players there, all treated to a lively discussion about grass. Chevrolet Cramer didn’t cut C.W. Roberts much slack. Nevertheless, there have been much more tense meetings. Aside from gardening woes at the new site in West Bay, the Board approved new contracts for insurance providers and lightning detectors. And, in a wise move, the Board politely turned down a request from the Mosley High School Band for $40 grand to march in a parade in England.