Truckee Tahoe Airport District's Legal Counsel Quits

Monday, June 7, 2004

By David Bunker, The Sierra (CA) Sun

Truckee Tahoe Airport District legal counsel Neil Eskind submitted his resignation to the airport board on Thursday after the board decided not to increase his compensation. Neil Eskind, who served as the district’s counsel for more than six years, said that the district “did not meet my standards for providing services anymore.”

The resignation leaves the airport district without legal counsel at a time of increased activity at the airport – both on and off the runway. With an upcoming land use compatibility plan focusing attention on airport operations, the town of Truckee and individuals are calling for the district to revise its 1998 Airport Master Plan. Airport negotiations for land purchases and issues with surrounding agencies have kept the counsel’s services in high demand in recent months.

Airport Boardmember Michael Golden said that Eskind’s departure leaves the district in a “precarious position” and the district may be in for a lengthy run without legal counsel.

“Neil is in a specialized field,” said Golden. “He will not be easily replaced with competent counsel.”

Board Vice President Connie Stevens agreed. “Now it is a matter of damage control,” said Stevens. “I, for one, think it will be extremely difficult to find someone to fill Neil’s boots.”

Finding a replacement will be tricky because the person must have background in representing a special district, but have no conflict of interest with the airport, said Stevens. With special districts across the area butting heads with the airport over land use, legal counsel candidates with no conflict may be scarce. Agencies ranging from theQRecreation and Park District and the Tahoe Truckee Sanitation Agency to the school and hospital districts have been eyeing expansion or building plans that could be affected by the new land use compatibility plan that is driven by airport operations projections.

Eskind said that his departure was triggered by changes in the airport’s approach to doing business, and that the lack of support from the board for a small increase in his compensation signaled a lack of confidence in his position.

“It was what the vote cued, not what the vote was,” said Eskind of a motion by Golden at the May 27 meeting that died for the lack of a second.