Purchasing violations at airport leads to “Furniture-gate”


Commissioner Sammie Sias says it really isn’t about someone not following city procedures when it came to trying to buy new furniture for the airport. 

“This is just another one of the city things that happens around local politics. Number one, when folks can’t out-do you, they start lying on you,” said Commissioner Sias. 

What started this is that, last month, the airport went out for 3 quotes for new office furniture. The person getting the quotes was Willa Hilton.

But she’s on the airport board, appointed by commissioner Sammie Sias.

When the city Procurement Department got the request, it hit the brakes because an airport board member submitting price quotes was a violation of policy.  

“When I did find out and hear about it, I wanted to address it but some people may think you shouldn’t address it, it’s not the normal practice and if you don’t address those things then other things get out of hand as well,” said Commissioner Marion Williams.

When she’s not serving on the airport commission, Hilton is manager of the Jamestown Community Center, where she replaced Commissioner Sias.

And Commissioner Marion Williams believes that when the airport got the new furniture, the old items would be going to Jamestown. 

“She’s the same person appointed by him, she’s the same person who runs the center. Then the furniture is suppose to go to that center. Who made that decision?” said Williams. 

“Even more ridiculous, someone starts this idiotic rumor, for some furniture for Jamestown, number one I don’t do use stuff at Jamestown,” Airport Director Herbert Judon confirmed there were no discussions of sending the furniture to Jamestown, and said when he learned of the violations of procedure he ended the deal.

But why did an Airport Commissioner get involved in the purchasing process in the first place?

“As far as the airport goes, Ms Hilton was simply helping out an employee that was too sick to go out and get the quotes,” said Sias. 

The furniture purchase wasn’t approve by the airport commission, but Judon said he’s working on a new policy to make airport purchasing more transparent.

But Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle wasn’t satisfied, saying “The airport has bought things before but in this case the purchasing process was bypassed and Guilfoyle said I don’t know why”. 

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