County vouches for Mokulele proposal
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors agreed to draft a letter of support for Mokulele Airlines during a regular meeting Tuesday, to continue providing the region’s Essential Air Service through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The two-year contract is up for renewal and three other airlines are vying for it as well. During the meeting, the board listened to presentations made by three of the four airlines. Although the local cities and counties input are taken into consideration the final decision is made by the USDOT.
The three presenters were the same three companies who sought to fill the void left by Seaport Airlines following its abrupt end of operations in 2016. That opened the door for Mokulele in March 2016.
“If it’s not broken, why fix it?” said District 3 Supervisor Michael Kelley. “I’ve been extremely happy with Mokulele and their presence in the Imperial County. They have risen to the occasion.”
During the previous process, the county had unanimously chosen to favor Boutique Air, but the cities of El Centro and Imperial supported Mokulele.
After Tuesday’s, vote all three boards have officially endorsed Mokulele.
“It has been an honor to serve this community and I’m proud of the job we’ve done for you,” said president of Mokulele Airlines Rob McKinney.”
District 4 Supervisor Ryan Kelley said although the airline had served the community well and he would continue to support them, he reminded the board of some of the reasons they had selected Boutique Air two years ago, including a pressurized cabin, more comfortable seating and faster travel times.
“I agree Mokulele has served the community well,” he said. “I do want to remind us to not limit our view that we can only have the Cessna with nine seats in it (Mokulele’s plane). We should expect more, I’m happy with the service that we have, but we should expect more.”
One of the major factors which favored Mokulele in the previous round was the fact they sought the smallest subsidy from the federal government.
For the 2018 proposal Mokulele, again, is the airline which asks for the smallest subsidy just under $2.5 million for two years. Aviation Street sought a similar subsidy but wasn’t in attendance to present its proposal.
Boutique Air is requesting a $3.38 million subsidy, while Great Lakes Aviation seeks a subsidy of nearly $3 million.
The current contract for Mokulele expires April 30.
Area Agency on Aging
Following the retirement of the former director of Public Administrator and director of the Area Agency on Aging Norma Saikhon last July, the Board of Supervisors unanimously selected Rosie Blankenship to lead the agency during closed session.
Since Saikhon’s retirement, Blankenship has served as the interim director of the agency.
This was an elected position until last fall when Assembly Bill 798 authored by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia — and supported by the county — was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill gave the Board of Supervisors the authority to appoint who will lead the agency.
The Office of the Public Administrator is responsible for handling the assets of people who die without a will or who lack the ability to manage their own assets for physical or mental incapacity.
The Office of the Public Administrator provides support to more than 800 people by management of their property, either by order of a judge or those who have died without a will.
“I humbly accept this appointment.
I’m honored to be able to serve our community, we got a lot of work ahead of us as we serve a very vulnerable population,” Blankenship said following the announcement. “... we are the conservators, we are the guardians, we are the protectors, we are the agency of last resort, we are the voice of the vulnerable representing our senior community, we are excited and ready to continue advocating and starting new programs.”
A plane prepares to take off from the Mokulele Airlines in Imperial County.
Rosie Blankenship who has served as the acting Public Administrator since July was appointed for the permanent role after a unanimous vote during closed session. EDWIN DELGADO PHOTO