Is that an island? Yes, Staten is, and it has unique position, geographically. It lays smack dab in the midst of the Gotham triangle, the mysterious area defined by the three big airports of the metropolis – Newark, Kennedy and LaGuardia – into which so many good ideas just disappear without a trace. The Island, founded by Dutchmen in 1609 is right under a lot of flight paths, and so it’s right on top of the list of places that complain about airplane noise. So it should come as no surprise that the first-ever airspace czar, appointed to the Federal Aviation Administration the other day, is a Staten Islander. And not just a czar but a czarina. She’s Marie Kennington-Gardiner, named by Transport Secretary Mary Peters to head the FAA’s new New York Integration Office.
The new airspace czar post was promised late last year as part of a big plan to address the rampant, record-setting flight delays in the metropolitan area. Kennington-Gardiner, who lives on Staten Island, will coordinate regional airspace issues, projects and initiatives, including the FAA’s proposed but hotly contested redesign of airspace in the Northeast. Having worked in three different FAA offices throughout the region, Kennington-Gardiner knows the territory and is firmly grounded in this airspace.
The track records of past government czars has been mixed, albeit better than the fate of the last Romanov czars (see left). During the OPEC embargo of the 1970s, the White House appointed an energy czar, whose success or lack thereof is pretty evident. Other administrations have tried the super-boss approach, and presidential candidates promise to keep the line alive. Hillary Clinton has vowed to anoint a poverty czar to coordinate federal welfare programs, and while rival Barack Obama says he would appoint a global-warming czar. Would this last have an alternative vehicle or just a regular czar car?