TSA's motive for allowing airport's to privatize have been apparent since the Agency was formed. TSA has long had an agenda to get out of managing Federal Employees and become strictly a regulatory entity. Montana's airports are the tip of the sphere to quietly "sell off" the nations aviation security in small geographical areas. TSA local management claims it is impartial or neutral and doesn't take a side, however the privatization wheels have been turning in Montana for at least 3 years. Federal employees were fist told the motivation for MCAA (Missoula County Airport Authority) board members desire to privatize stemmed from the new screening checkpoint addition that opened in April 2007. With the checkpoint being located apart from the exit lane, TSA forced MCAA to staff the exit with private security that came with a cost of more than $90,000.00 annually. MCAA's budget was strained even more with this added cost and the previous Airport Director's improprieties that led to a felony conviction of embezzlement left the airport with few options to increase revenue. The hope is for the MCAA to "partner" with one of the private companies and earn a percentage monetary "kickback", all paid for by the taxpayer. It would seem that if there were profits enough to share with a local airport that those tax dollars should be used to increase security at a local level and not line the pockets of an airport. Conflict of interest comes to mind. Why can a select few Airport Authority Board member's make decisions of such magnitude and consequence that will affect a local economy, Federal jobs and ultimately the level of security? Has Missoula been plagued enough with increased job losses with the closure of Smurfit Stone and Macy's Department Store? This privatization move does not put local community interest’s first, but just the opposite, sending profits to an out of state big business security contractor and a local Airport Authority. Montanan’s are being sold a “Bill of Goods” that isn’t apparent at first glance.
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