Clark leaves suddenly as airport chief

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indianapolis Airport Authority announced late Monday afternoon that CEO John D. Clark III has stepped down, effective immediately.

Recently appointed airport board president Mike Wells said the parting of ways came after he and Clark met Monday afternoon "to discuss how we were going to go forward and whether we were going to go forward."

He said the two met because a three-year letter of intent Clark signed when he joined the aiport was set to expire soon. He said Clark had worked under a letter of intent, never a formal contract. Wells said he was not sure why that was the case.

Asked whether he had been happy with Clark's performance or whether Clark's large expenditures on travel were a factor in his departure, Wells said: "It's a personnel matter. Our policy is not to discuss those things."

The sudden departure comes just two weeks after IBJ reported that Clark and two key officers spent more than $67,000 last year on travel that included extended trips to Brazil, Denmark, Greece, Morocco and Switzerland.

In that article, Wells said he planned to tighten oversight of executives' travel. He conceded that he could be perceived by airport executives as micromanaging.

"If so, so be it," said Wells, who was appointed to the post by Mayor Greg Ballard. "I'm probably not going to win homecoming king at the airport."

WXIN-TV Channel 59, IBJ's newsgathering partner, reported late Monday afternoon that Ballard was unhappy with the pace of economic development at the airport.

"I think that’s been slow, much slower than I would have expected," Ballard told the station.

"It may have been the recession. It may have been all the economic downturn but I want to have more plans for development out there. That’s what I’m mostly focused on."

Airport officials said Robert Duncan, a longtime airport executive who retired last year, has been named interim director, pending approval of the authority's board, which meets Friday.

Duncan would hold the position until a search for Clark’s successor has been completed, according to a press release from the authority, which manages the airport.

“We thank John for his service during a period of turbulence in the aviation industry,” Wells said in a prepared statement. “Despite these challenges, we believe that there is a great opportunity ahead for the Indianapolis International Airport.”

Clark, 51, was not immediately available for comment.

In a prepared statement distributed by the airport authority, Clark said: “I want to thank my team of fellow IAA employees; together, we accomplished a lot over the past three years. An airport is one of the most powerful economic development engines a region can have, and from day one we have worked to position the Indianapolis International Airport for long-term growth and success.”

In IBJ's article on airport executives' travel earlier this month, Clark had defended the overseas trips, saying they helped management learn best practices. He pointed out that the airport spent less than three-tenths of 1 percent of its operating expenses on travel and related expenses in 2011.

WXIN reported on Clark’s travel expenses late last year. Michael Stayton, the airport authority president at the time, told the station that he had personally reviewed Clark’s travel expenditures and had no problem with them.

Technically, money spent on airport executives' air travel does not come from tax dollars. Clark said in a statement he provided for IBJ's March 10 article that travel expenses are funded entirely by revenue from airlines, which comes in the form of landing fees and space rentals.

Airlines "have praised the IAA for its fiscal management and commitment to lowering airline costs even as they are increasing at many airports," he said in the statement.

Clark came to Indianapolis from the Jacksonville, Fla., airport, where his travel expenses also had generated controversy.



  • Doing the Right Stuff
    We're headed in the right direction now.

    Mayor Ballard's decision to re-appoint Mike Wells to the IAA board was an excellent call. Mike is a solid leader who has made a number of decisions that have benefitted Indianapolis. And Wells' decision to hire Bob Duncan back is proof of that. Duncan has forgotten more about how to run an airport than most people will ever know.

    The decision to hire Clark was made when the IAA board chairman was "Ambassador" Randall Tobias, who is no longer there.
  • Dah!
    Not only this guy but I believe his predecessor, as well, had similar track records before 'landing" here. My question is this: Who's responsible for hiring these clowns?
  • CICP
    Who else went on these golf trips with Clark all over the world?
  • Clark leaves and needs to take someone with him!
    Please take Frank Straub with you, Mr. Clark! You both have an extraordinary way of spending OUR money! Straub's remodeling of his suite, complete with personal shower (likely for NY "liasions", or "payback") cost more than Mr. Clark's junkets!

    How much travel & expense has Indianapolis paid for Frank Straub's trips to the east coast?

    The Greatest thing would be for Mr. Clark and Frank Straub to skip town together, hand-in-hand!!!
  • Exactly
    He did this at his last position, why would you hire him knowing he mishandled funds? I like the comment in the story, "Technically, money spent on airport executives' air travel does not come from tax dollars. Clark said in a statement he provided for IBJ's March 10 article that travel expenses are funded entirely by revenue from airlines, which comes in the form of landing fees and space rentals." So "technically", still not HIS money to spend!
  • Now What?
    Certainly there is more to the story with the recent resignation of the board chairman, but one should ask what was accomplished over the previous three years.

    We have a big expensive land use plan, that Decatur township has completely ignored and a lawsuit fighting over parking revenue.

    No progress on redeveloping the old passenger terminal.

    No light rail from the airport to downtown.

    No airport hotel connected to the midfield passenger terminal.

    No significant progress on international or domestic passenger or cargo flights.

    But, we do have a bizarre idea to created a 60 acre solar farm on prime real estate in front of the midfield passenger terminal in overcast Indy.
  • They knew..the Airport Board
    They knew this guy had issues in J-ville, FL, yet they still hired him as if one person changes their ways...typical Indianapolis politics, turn the other cheek...shameful!
  • Comparison
    What is the average annual travel expense for airport executives at other airports of comparable size?
  • H-m-m-m-m-m-m . . .
    Obviously more here than meets the eye!! What DID Mr. Clark accomplish while he was here? Appears it was mostly a nice vacation.
    Where do I apply for that Job!!
  • Applause for Mr. Wells
    Indeed, Indianapolis is a better place. It is about time that people are held accountable for their actions, and not be allowed to do whatever they desire to do because of their positions. I applaud Mr. Wells for doing the "right thing".
  • Clark leaves as Airport Chief
    Indianapolis is a better place.

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. From the story: "The city of Indianapolis also will consider tax incentives and funding for infrastructure required for the project, according to IEDC." Why would the City need to consider additional tax incentives when Lowe's has already bought the land and reached an agreement with IEDC to bring the jobs? What that tells me is that the City has already pledged the incentives, unofficially, and they just haven't had time to push it through the MDC yet. Either way, subsidizing $10/hour jobs is going to do nothing toward furthering the Mayor's stated goal of attracting middle and upper-middle class residents to Marion County.

    2. Ron Spencer and the entire staff of Theater on the Square embraced IndyFringe when it came to Mass Ave in 2005. TOTS was not only a venue but Ron and his friends created, presented and appeared in shows which embraced the 'spirit of the fringe'. He's weathered all the storms and kept smiling ... bon voyage and thank you.

    3. Not sure how many sushi restaurants are enough, but there are three that I know of in various parts of downtown proper and all are pretty good.

    4. First off, it's "moron," not "moran." 2nd, YOU don't get to vote on someone else's rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the US Constitution. That's why this is not a state's rights issue...putting something like this to vote by, well, people like you who are quite clearly intellectually challenged isn't necessary since the 14th amendment has already decided the issue. Which is why Indiana's effort is a wasted one and a waste of money...and will be overturned just like this has in every other state.

    5. Rick, how does granting theright to marry to people choosing to marry same-sex partners harm the lives of those who choose not to? I cannot for the life of me see any harm to people who choose not to marry someone of the same sex. We understand your choice to take the parts of the bible literally in your life. That is fine but why force your religious beliefs on others? I'm hoping the judges do the right thing and declare the ban unconstitutional so all citizens of Wisconsin and Indiana have the same marriage rights and that those who chose someone of the same sex do not have less rights than others.