The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission is working on new bylaws and an employee handbook to better codify how business is done at the Island airport.
The bylaws and handbook are still in draft form and have not been made public, although in a letter county manager Martina Thornton urged the commission to make it public so the county personnel board and county commission could have an opportunity to review the draft.
“I believe that it is important that all county employees are being treated fairly and should enjoy the same benefits unless there is a legal reason not to,” Ms. Thornton wrote. “The draft that was provided to me clearly diminishes some of the benefits for your non-union employees.”
The handbook was drafted by airport counsel Susan Whalen and is based on existing Dukes County personnel bylaws as well as the collective bargaining agreement with the airport employee union, Ms. Whalen has said.
At a meeting Friday, the commission postponed a discussion and vote on the handbook because commissioner Richard Michelson, who has advocated for the creation of the handbook, was not present.
Deliberations on the employee policies are expected at a meeting at the end of August.
In other business Friday, the commission briefly discussed the airport master plan, which is an inclusive study of the needs of the airport on a short and long-term basis.
A master plan working group, which is made up of airport stakeholders, takes stock of each aspect of the airport and makes recommendations about priorities for future growth and areas of improvement.
The working group met on July 23.
During a discussion of the master plan, ongoing tensions between the airport commission and its appointing authority, the county commission, were evident when Ms. Thornton raised her hand to speak but was not recognized by chairman Connie Teixeira.
Ms. Teixeira said later that she would not call on anyone with whom the airport was involved in litigation. In the spring, the airport commission filed a lawsuit against the county commission asking a judge to declare its legal autonomy in managing airport affairs.
Former employee Beth Tessmer, who has been involved in a lawsuit against the airport charging retaliation and discrimination in the workplace, was also not recognized when she raised her hand.
“For all those people in the room with whom we are in litigation, you will not be recognized by the chair because anything that should be said should be said attorney to attorney,” Ms. Teixeira said.
After some debate, Ms. Thornton took the floor to inquire about the master plan process.
She asked how the public might find out when the master plan group is meeting and what they would discuss. “I for one would be interested to know,” she said.
Airport manager Sean Flynn said while the public is not invited to sit in on the master plan working group sessions, the airport welcomes comment via email.
“Comments can be continuous from the public,” he said.
Mr. Flynn, who had gone on paid medical leave in mid-June, said after the meeting that he had returned to work on July 24.