The Monroe Regional Airport should be named after President Barack Obama!
It was President Obama’s push in 2009 that sent millions of dollars to local communities across the nation in what was called “Shovel Ready” projects. Among the hundreds of cities that received stimulus funds was the City of Monroe, which received the green light to begin a $34.1 million overhaul of the Monroe Airport.
It was interesting that while most of the local business community opposed President Obama’s election, they were salivating at the chance to benefit from the airport project and all of the residual business that it would create.
Thanks to the help of Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, white contractors pocketed millions. Mayo put on a full court press to insure that Black contractors were kept out of the loop, even to the point of accepting the high bid of a favorite white businessman over the low bid of a black contractor whose bid was over $300,000 lower .
There was a court fight over the issue. Mayo’s chief contract administrator, Jackie Slack, testified that she was ordered to find ways to disqualify the low bidding Black contractor, even though the white company selected had a record of ignoring minority inclusion in its projects.
Initially, A black man did get to help lay bricks for the airport and a shoe shine booth was made available for blacks as well, but the big money that is controlled by the major contractor went outside of the black community by design.
The city has never had a major project given to a black contractor even with a black mayor and black city council in charge.
Since Monroe’s city council is predominately black, maybe it could make a final gesture that would provide some solace to the Black community that has never really embraced the airport project as an achievement worth noting. The council could rename the airport after President Obama.
Obama Regional Airport would be a fitting name since the bulk of the funds for the project came from the Obama administration. It would also be a face saving move by the Mayo Administration since it spent so much time steering the stimulus funds President Obama provided away from Black contractors and subcontractors.
As yet, there are very few public entities that are named after President Obama. There is talk in Chicago of renaming its airport after the former President. There are several schools across the country named after Obama; three in California, two in New Jersey and one each in Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
There are a few animals that have been given scientific names after the President such as: The Obamadon gracilis, an extinct lizard; Tosanoides obama is a new species of fish that was discovered in a Marine National Mounument. There is a blood fluke found in Malaysian turtles that has been named Baracktrema obamai.
There is nothing in the state of Louisiana that is named after the President.
If Monroe named its airport after the President then it will become the first community in the nation to name something other than a school after the nation’s first Black President.
Without a doubt, Monroe’s regional airport would not have been renovated and expanded the way it has without the help of the President’s stimulus program.
We think it would be a great tribute to him, probably enough to get he and Michelle to come to its dedication, since it will be the first public facility of its kind in the nation named after him.
In a city that voted overwhelmingly for Republican President Donald Trump, we don’t expect this idea to take legs.
It will take a whole lot of courage for our city leaders to make that move.
It probably won’t happen…
But wouldn’t it be great?