Make us your home page

Wife of TIA planning director co-owns firm bidding on terminal renovation

Members of the board that oversees Tampa International Airport were shocked last week to learn the airport's construction chief was in a position to influence their decisions to award contracts to a company where his wife works.

But they didn't get the whole story about Jacqueline Russo's role at Gresham, Smith and Partners, a design and consulting firm headquartered in Nashville.

Interim airport director John Wheat told members Thursday that the wife of Louis Russo, the airport's senior director for planning and development, ''works for Gresham Smith … works for an office outside the state.'' An airport spokeswoman said she was a designer.

Jacqueline Russo is also part owner of the firm, according to a press release the company published in May. She identifies herself as a principal in Gresham Smith on the online networking site LinkedIn. A call to Russo's home wasn't returned Monday evening.

Louis Russo sat on a staff committee that ranked project proposals by Gresham Smith and other firms before board members awarded the contract, said Wheat.

He stopped the practice earlier this year, Wheat said, but employees who worked for Russo continued to serve on the review panel.

"If she just works for (the firm), it's a gray area, '' said board chairman Al Austin on Monday. "But if she has ownership, that would be a clear conflict of interest.''

Gresham Smith was the top-ranked firm to design a $7.9 million renovation of the airport's main terminal. Board members threw out the results Thursday and put other scheduled contract awards on hold until incoming executive director Joseph Lopano arrives Jan. 1.

Gigi Rechel, the airport's general counsel, has talked with Lopano and expects to give the board a memo today on his plans for policy changes and moving ahead with pending contracts, said spokeswoman Christine Osborn.

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (727) 893-8128.

Wife of TIA planning director co-owns firm bidding on terminal renovation 11/08/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 8, 2010 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New apartment complex delivers unique floor plans


    RIVERVIEW — A new luxury apartment community has opened in the Progress Village area touting itself as a distinct living option just 10 miles from downtown Tampa.

    Alta at Magnolia Park dubs its new apartment community, that opened earlier this year in Riverview, a modern and distinct option for living just 10 miles from downtown Tampa.
  2. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  3. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  4. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24


    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  5. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]