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Government, Politics & Issues

Friday: Deputy Mayor Linda Martinez Discusses Airport Bidding Controversy

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This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” during the noon hour on Friday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

This week, St. Louis Deputy Mayor Linda Martinez found herself in the proverbial hot seat. 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained leaked minutes from a meeting of the city’s Airport Working Group, which is working to lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The hope is that a for-profit entity will provide a large cash payment upfront in exchange for the potential of future profit. 

The city has gotten interest from a number of parties. And as the working group considers which should advance to the next round, the minutes showed Martinez advocating for a hometown firm to be included — even as other working group members objected.   

That firm, a newly formed entity called STL Aviation Group, has major ties to the Democratic Party and to city power brokers. It previously employed Jeff Rainford as a lobbyist. He served as chief of staff for former Mayor Francis Slay, who kicked off the city’s exploration of airport privatization. Also part of the team is Brian Wahby, former chairman of the city’s Democratic Central Committee, and Catherine Hanaway, the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri and now a partner at Husch Blackwell. (Libertarian billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who gave $4.5 million to Hanaway’s failed gubernatorial bid, is the person subsidizing the city’s exploration of the privatization process.) And another team member, Dan White, who like Martinez is a former partner at Bryan Cave, is a former airport commissioner.

Martinez has been the mayor’s point person on the privatization process. She’ll join Friday’s St. Louis on the Air to discuss what’s been happening behind closed doors, why she pushed for STL Aviation Group’s inclusion and whether residents should fear that insiders stand to benefit from their connections over the airport’s best interests.

Have a question or comment for Deputy Mayor Linda Martinez? Tweet us (@STLonAir), send an email to talk@stlpublicradio.org or share your thoughts via our St. Louis on the Air Facebook group, and help inform our coverage.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The engineer is Aaron Doerr and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.