The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission Tuesday removed Airport Manager Steve Sievek from his post and reassigned him to a temporary assignment as construction coordinator at 75 percent of his salary.
Neither Sievek nor commission Chair Beth Pfingsten would immediately elaborate on the reasons for the reassignment.
A memorandum that was written Tuesday by Pfingsten addressed a complaint about the airport’s failure to ensure the required inspection and certification of de-icing equipment. That failure, the memo continued, resulted in the cancellation of a Nov. 19 Delta jet flight departing from Minneapolis to Brainerd.
“This is a serious and grievous error representing unacceptable performance, jeopardizing customer relations and the reputation of our facility,” Pfingsten wrote.
The memo stated that as a result of this incident and Sievek’s performance in totality, he was being reassigned.
The commission voted unanimously in favor of Sievek’s reassignment and also appointed Commissioner Rick Adair as temporary volunteer airport manager. Adair, Pfingsten and Commissioner Andy Larson will serve on a committee that will seek a temporary interim manager who will oversee the transition.
The commission’s actions took place in open session after the panel met in closed session to discuss the airport manager’s performance evaluation.
Sievek, who has been airport manager since May 15, 1994, told the commission he appreciated the opportunity to serve as construction coordinator. The former Crow Wing County commissioner said he was proud to be a part of the many improvements at the airport since he started. He then said he plans to retire on or about June 1.
“It’s with sadness and regret that I choose to retire at that time,” he said.
He conceded that in some ways he might be considered a dinosaur and admitted that he was not “techno-savvy.” Sievek said he conducts business with a handshake and his word is his bond and noted the mounting documentation requirements of the job. He also said that he obviously was not perfect and that marketing was not his strong suit.
Later in the meeting, Sievek publicly apologized to the commission and to the traveling public for the de-icing truck’s lack of certification.
“I accept full responsibility that the truck was not certified,” he said.
After the meeting Sievek said he didn’t have a lot to say about his reassignment. He said he was enthused about his temporary assignment as construction coordinator.
Jeff Czeczok criticized the commission for not stating in its agenda that it was meeting in closed session to consider disciplinary action against an employee. He said that was a violation of state statute.
“I’m a little dismayed at what happened here,” Czeczok said.
Commissioners later discussed whether they should have someone review their closed session in anticipation of a complaint from Czeczok. The commissioners decided to address the issue next month.
MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at email@example.com and 855-5860.