Hillsboro Airport Flight Training Expansion Sidesteps Democratic Process

Miki Barnes, LCSW
December 15, 2016

The links provided below to the Portland Tribune and Portland Business Journal report on a recently announced partnership between Hillsboro Aero Academy and Horizon Air to engage in commuter jet pilot training at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO).

Portland Tribune article - Hillsboro Aero, Horizon Air strike deal for new pilots

Portland Business Journal article - After pact with Horizon, Hillsboro school aims to be training ground for commercial pilots

It appears that this negotiation transpired in the complete absence of public notice and input, and as such circumvented the democratic process. The Port of Portland, which owns and operates HIO, is a quasi-government agency that is governed by a non-elected board of commissioners, thus the Port essentially functions without voter approval or consideration, even though their decisions trigger widespread negative impacts throughout region. HIO is already one of the biggest polluters in Washington County, even without the addition of increased operations. It is also the source of numerous noise complaints.

It is noteworthy that less than 2 1/2 months ago, the Port and FAA claimed before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the addition of a third runway at HIO has not generated an increase in operations. Oregon Aviation Watch questioned this assertion, especially in light of ample evidence that the Port shifted general aviation operations to Troutdale and PDX in the months following the opening of the runway. See Hillsboro Tribune article "Aviation Watchdogs Clash with Port, FAA in U.S. Circuit Court" for additional information on this topic.

The corporate nature of this business arrangement in conjunction with the complete and utter failure to consider noise, livability, the environment and public health concerns brings to mind a 1938 statement from Franklin Roosevelt:

...the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.

The above quote remains as chillingly relevant today as it was in the years leading up to the Second World War. To access the entire speech see Franklin D. Roosevelt: Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies.

Sadly, in the case of HIO, the State of Oregon, the Washington County Board of Commissioners, and the City of Hillsboro have consistently failed to enact necessary safe guards to uphold democratic principle on behalf of those who are routinely subjected to the noise and pollution caused by the flight training industry.

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