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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Your bosses should be so nice



If there's one thing Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano is definitely good at, it's getting his bosses to give him more money. It seems to be the main reason his name ends up in the paper.

Since taking the job a little more than two years ago, the appointed members of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority have given him raises of $50,000 (Jan. 2012) and $15,000 (Oct. 2012) to take his salary to $315,000 annually. That, despite the fact that most government workers, and lots of private sector employees, have seen their wages frozen for the past five years or more.

On Thursday, Aviation Authority members significantly sweetened Lopano's contract further. On a 4-1 vote, they agreed to pay him a bonus of $500,000 on top of his salary if he sticks around five more years. The bonus was suggested as an enticement for Lopano to stay with speculation swirling that he could be courted by other airports, including his old one, Dallas-Fort Worth International.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, was the lone dissenting vote on the five-person board. He noted nothing in the new contract guarantees Lopano will stay.

"There is nothing in this contract that gives us this security," Buckhorn said, "other than Joe looking at this pot of money and hoping he doesn't want to go."

Interestingly, it's the board's three members who were appointed by Republican governors leading the charge, joined by Republican Victor Crist, the County Commission's representative on the board. The gubernatorial appointees are Steve Burton, Robert Watkins and Joseph Diaco.

Read the rest of the story by Jamal Thalji here.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 4, 2013 12:31pm]


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