Commander's eviction

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last week a bankruptcy judge in Texas granted a motion that allows the city of Cape Girardeau to go forward with its eviction of Commander Premier Aircraft Corp. from city property at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

The judge's decision is a major turning point in a multiyear saga. Commander, an aircraft manufacturer that occupies a 52,000-square-foot hangar at the Cape Girardeau airport, has failed to make lease payments since 2007.

Commander's former company president, Joel Hartstone, was quoted in a Southeast Missourian story last Wednesday regarding the judge's ruling, saying, "We worked very hard for a long time to figure out how to get somebody to Cape Girardeau to build airplanes. It's clear that Cape Girardeau does not want anything to do with an aircraft factory. I think that's a really stupid decision, but that's the decision and I accept it."

Though we can understand Hartstone's frustration that the company was not able to make the arrangement work, his assessment of the city is anything but true. City leaders would be overjoyed with a successful aircraft factory -- one that makes lease payments, provides jobs and creates economic activity for the area. But at a time when every dollar the city spends is crucial, Cape Girardeau taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize a failed proposition with only a wait-and-see response.

The Texas judge's decision was an important step for the city, one that helps city officials do the right thing for their constituents. Clearly it's time for both parties to move on.

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