Nominee for the US Ambassador to ICAO will not well serve the President’s Aviation Record

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Article Obama bundlers find a shrinking job market


Quote from the Washington Post:

“But maybe jobs previously filled by non-bundlers can go to worthy contributors?

For example, one of those nominees left on the floor when the Senate recessed was

Los Angeles lawyer Michael A. Lawson, a major Democratic contributor and Obama

mega-bundler (up to $500,00o in both 2008 and 2012 according to the Center for

Responsive Politics) who was in line to be the U.S. representative to the International

Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), headquartered in Montreal.

ICAO is the UN’s deliberative body on international civil aviation safety standards and yes, its processes tend to grind somewhat finely. Its authority is equally explicit standards and hortative suggestions. The Assembly is composed of almost all of the UN’s member countries and it ratifies the work of committees and the Council.

The US representative, who sits on the Council and works with the Committees, cannot count on the goodwill of his/her country to prevail on votes. These are bodies in which command of the technical aspects of aviation carry the debates. The “center of gravity” of the ICAO members is not inclined to adopting the most stringent standards; many countries have not the finances, regulatory structures or aviation safety professionals necessary to support the implementation of advanced criteria. What overwhelms this opposition is an exposition of the underlying technical merits of a proposal and of the means by which it might be readily implemented.

The US Ambassador to ICAO has a staff on which she/he may rely to prepare for these discussions, but when the sessions begin, the briefing level of knowledge quickly is surpassed by the quality of the information needed to reply to the views of others at the ICAO deliberations. The Ambassador will have to rely on extensive background to be an effective advocate for these critical moments in which global rules are being formulated.

Little is known about the technical competence of Mr. Lawson. His resume only include the chairing of the Los Angeles World Airports’ Board of Airport Commissioners does not approximate the depth of knowledge which this job demands. The nomination by respective Presidents and the Senate confirmation of the Honorables Carmody, Stimson, Bliss and Woerth established bipartisan precedents of the highest standards for this position. This Administration’s nomination denigrates the past Ambassadors, ICAO and the US’ world aviation stature.

The White House Office of Presidential Personnel has the difficult task of filling positions like the US Ambassador to ICAO. Those persons must have been unaware of the history of appointments to this post. Assigning someone deficient in the requisite skills could be detrimental to a variety of US aviation concerns. Someone with less than adequate background, for example, in the NextGen implementation or standards for pilots or the EU’s efforts to tax carbon emissions could harm US jobs, US unions and US airlines.

President Obama, please find someone who can do the job in Montreal! This gentleman does not appear to meet the well-established standards for this position. There are union leaders, airline executives and even current appointees who will serve the President better; the selection of one of them will add to the US aviation global impact under the Obama Administration.

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