CAREER PUBLIC SERVANT IS NOT THE PARTISAN TYPE, BUT IS AN ABLE AVIATION SAFETY EXECUTIVE

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ARTICLE: Inquiry Starts at F.A.A. Over Remark on Budget

By Joe DelBalzo and Sandy Murdock

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This Journal is focused on aviation safety and allegations of individual conduct are not usually mentioned here. Also, the posts that we publish here are usually the product of one author. This paper is signed by two individuals for a substantive reason—one writer, Joe DelBalzo, was a FAA career employee and the other, Sandy Murdock, was a political appointee during a conservative Republican Administration. Our collaborative writing is meant to express a unified position from two very different perspectives.

Our singular message is that we both knew John when we worked as employees of the FAA and after our time within the agency. John is a hard-working, dedicated, professional FAA employee. The FAA is a 100% non-partisan organization (except for those non-career executives whose jobs are to implement the agenda of the Administration) and John is known for following that internal, informal rule that politics have no role in the FAA. This FAA culture is aside from any Hatch Act considerations.

The history of FAA over the last 30 years has been a consistent line of reduced personnel and another line of increased mission requirements. Those trends have placed a premium on the utilization of resources.

We have no knowledge of what Mr. Hickey said or did not say. However, one could easily state, without violating the Hatch Act, that the current Senate (read Democratically controlled) budget for the FAA staff is flat and that the House version (controlled by Republicans) proposes a reduction in the personnel positions. It is also possible that a person sitting in the audience could have heard this neutral statement as a political statement.

We hope that John did not cross the Hatch Act line, and if we were gamblers we would bet he did not, simply because we know him. His dedication, passion for safety and integrity are beyond question. He is an able career servant whose future service in his current position will benefit aviation safety. We hope that the investigation exonerates this fine gentleman.

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