Nov 20, 2023 - News

Nashville's airport board drama continues

The Nashville airport.

Photo: Courtesy of Nashville International Airport

Drama continues to surround the Nashville Airport Authority's board, with two members showing up to last week's meeting despite the city's legal department not considering them members anymore.

Why it matters: The board, which oversees the rapidly growing Nashville International Aiport, has been a surprising source of confusion, gossip and legal wrangling this year.

  • At the center are longtime board members and prominent businessmen Bobby Joslin and Jimmy Granbery.

Flashback: Board members have historically been appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Metro Council. Republican state lawmakers passed a law earlier this year giving state leaders the power to appoint five of the seven board members.

  • At one point, there were dueling boards, with the state-led and city-led boards each claiming power. Existing members Joslin and Granbery got tapped for the new Republican-led board.
  • When Joslin and Granbery accepted those appointments, Metro's legal department took the position that they were no longer members of the city's board.

Catch up quick: Metro sued to block the new law. A three-judge panel agreed with Metro, threw the law out and restored the city-owned board to power.

The intrigue: Joslin and Granbery showed up to this week's meeting and voted on some measures. They take the position that they never resigned from the city-run board.

What he's saying: Nashville Mayor Freddie O'Connell apparently could appoint two new members based on legal analysis from director of law Wally Dietz.

  • But O'Connell is staying above the fray. He says he's worried that appointing replacements could trigger more lawsuits.
  • "I am disappointed that there is still a dispute about two of the seats on the Airport Authority. ... At this time, I don't believe [appointing new members is] in the best interest of the operation of the board."

The bottom line: The current board, complete with Joslin and Granbery, seems poised to continue on as is, at least for now.

What we're watching: The state is likely to appeal the lower court's ruling, which will send the board matter to an appeals court and then potentially the Tennessee Supreme Court. Those judicial seats are held mainly by Republican judges.

  • Metro Council has the power to file legislation to remove members of the airport board.

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