Commissioner makes racially controversial comment

City Commissioner Tommie Postell mentioned in Tuesday's meeting that there are not enough African Americans on the Aviation Commission / File

Controversy at Tuesday's City Commission meeting after Commissioner Tommie Postell speaks out on the lack of African Americans on the Aviation Commission.

Normally, recommending a person to a board position of a civic group isn't that interesting, but at Tuesday's meeting, Tommie Postell spoke up after the board recommended one man to the aviation commission.

"I didn't approve of the names because they didn't have any blacks involved," says Postell.

The board is filling the unexpired term of former Vice Chair Eugene Jeter, who recently passed away. Jeter was African American, as is one other board member. Postell stated he knew of a gentleman interested in being on the aviation board who also happened to be African American.

"I don't think it should be a monopoly where a black cannot be on the board except for one," adds Postell.

Two men were considered for the position, Dr. Frank Middleton, who is white and Reverend Henry Mathis, who is black. Commissioner Roger Marietta says making race a factor reflects poorly on the commission.

"It's not appropriate to ask people whether they're married, whether they have children and kind of personal issues and so to dwell on the race of applicants I think sends the wrong message," says Marietta.

Airport Director Yvette Aehle says the man Postell recommended did not file an application.

Then Commissioner Chris Pike said this gentleman can express interest all he wants, but the bottom line is, if he doesn't put in his application on time, then he just simply shouldn't be considered.

"The two people who were presented had impeccable credentials, and they met all the guidelines that we set forth so why would we penalize them by allowing someone else to come in?" says Pike.

In the end, the board recommended Dr. Frank Middleton. They will make it official at the night meeting next Tuesday night.

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