In airport battle, backstabbing becomes "freedom of speech"



Often in politics, some things would be funny if they weren't so ridiculous. I'm talking about Airport Advisory Committee Chairman Shawn Dorsch's appearance before Charlotte City Council yesterday and specifically his spirited defense of his own "freedom of speech."

Quick recap: Dorsch and the rest of the airport advisory board were hauled before council to discuss revelations that Dorsch, whose job is to advise City Council on running the airport, contacted officials from other counties and a state lawmaker and urged them to support a bill that would give control of the airport to an airport authority and take it away from city government. Yes, that city government - the one that gave Dorsch his current position, and for whom he officially works as an adviser; the one that will take away his nifty position soon.

  • Courtesy of the Oshkosh Northwestern

Dorsch refused to give council details of his encounters with the other counties' officials or with legislators, citing those people's "privacy," and - here's the kicker - his freedom of speech.

It was the same line used to defend Dorsch by Stan Campbell, former council member, longtime thorn in the city's side, and one of the behind-the-scenes players in the move to create a new airport authority. Campbell told the Observer that airport advisory board members have a right to lobby for an airport authority. Ridiculous? Funny? You decide.

In any case, those arguments are irrelevant diversions. Granted, Dorsch has the same freedom of speech as any other American. No one is disputing that. The problem is that Dorsch was stabbing the people he was ostensibly working for in the back.

Free speech is real, and so are its consequences. Here's how it works. Let's say you're hired as a consultant for a new business project, and you contact your employer's competitor to urge her/him to derail the project for which you are supposedly consulting. You have every right as an American to exercise your free speech and contact your employer's competitor. At the same time, of course, your employer has every right to fire your ass when he finds out.

Dorsch, no matter his duplicity in this case, could still wind up in clover, as he's backing what will no doubt be the winning side of the airport authority battle. Once the new authority is established, no one would be too surprised to see Dorsch on the board. That's probably a consequence of free speech Dorsch wouldn't complain about.

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