By Rich Pollack
Saying he’s achieved what he was selected to do when he was appointed to serve on the Boca Raton Airport Authority, Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Robert Weinroth resigned last month from the independent board that oversees airport operations.
“I went on the Airport Authority with the charge by the City Council to improve communication and create a partnership with the board,” Weinroth said. “I believe I have accomplished what I had hoped to achieve on behalf of the city.”
In an unusual step, the City Council appointed Weinroth, along with Deputy City Manager George Brown, to the authority in May, marking the first time a sitting council member was appointed to the board since it was created in 2004 by an act of the state Legislature. The decision — and Weinroth’s casting of the deciding vote on his own appointment — raised eyebrows and led to a complaint to the Florida Ethics Commission.
At the time of his appointment, Weinroth said he did not plan to stay on the Airport Authority board for his full two-year term.
After announcing his decision to leave the board, effective this month, the deputy mayor said he felt the end of the year was a good time to step down.
Shortly after joining the board, Weinroth spearheaded efforts to revise its bylaws to improve transparency and to eliminate restrictions that some thought handcuffed board members, limiting their ability to openly discuss airport authority matters without going through a cumbersome reporting process.
Weinroth said he believes that communication with the City Council improved during the months he was on the board and added that the authority’s executive director, Clara Bennett, played a major role in that goal being accomplished.
“Ms. Bennett had brought in an open dialogue with the city,” he said. “The transparency that I hoped to bring in with the revision of the bylaws was complemented by what she has done.”
The deputy mayor said he does not know if the state ethics commission investigation into his appointment will continue but said he hopes it will.
“I hope there’s a decision that the appointment was a political one and was not an unethical one,” he said.
Weinroth’s seat on the board is one of seven, with five of those seats appointed by the Boca Raton City Council. The two remaining seats are appointed by the Palm Beach County Commission.
The seat Weinroth is vacating is reserved, by state mandate, for a Boca Raton resident living west of the airport.
Weinroth said the city clerk’s office is accepting applications for the board vacancy and he expects the council to fill the seat by the end of January.