BY GREGORY A. HALL
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HEBRON -- The newest member of the Kenton County Airport Board is one of the attorneys on the opposing side of a million-dollar lawsuit with the county.
Kenton County Judge-executive Rodney "Biz" Cain announced Tuesday he has appointed Erlanger lawyer William T. Robinson III to the board that oversees the Cincinnati - Northern Kentucky International Airport.
The board is one of the most prestigious public appointments in Northern Kentucky. Board members serve without compensation. Mr. Robinson will replace the board's longest serving member, William Whitson.
The former board chairman served as an airport director for 31 years.
Mr. Robinson, 53, is managing partner for law firmGreenebaum Doll & McDonald in Covington and is on numerous community boards.
"He is as strong a community person as I know," Mr. Cain said. Mr. Robinson is an attorney for Corporex Companies Inc.
The county is suing the company and its chairman, Bill Butler, to recoup an $850,000 settlement paid to two losing bidders -- Wessels Construction and Development Corp. and Carroll Properties -- over the 1996 competition for courthouse and parking garage construction contracts.
The county also seeks more than $700,000 in other damages and an unspecified amount as punishment.
Kenton County also is suing its former insurer, the Kentucky Association of Counties' All Lines Fund, for not covering the settlement. The county accuses Mr. Butler of manipulating the process to win the $35.6 million contracts.
Corporex and Mr. Butler deny any wrongdoing and place blame on the county for failing to follow its own rules.
Company attorneys have previously detailed why they think Deputy Judge-executive George Neack targeted them. Mr. Neack has denied the allegations.
The lawsuit wasn't a factor in the appointment, Mr. Cain said. "That never even crossed my mind," he said.
Mr. Robinson was out of town and unavailable for comment.
He has received numerous awards, including the Friends of Covington outstanding citizenship award, the Cincinnati chapter of the American Jewish Committee's first Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award and the Kentucky governor's Economic Development Leadership award. He is a past president of the Northern Kentucky Bar Association, board member of Tri-County Economic Development Corp. and Forward Quest. He also is a trustee for the College of Mount St. Joseph.
Mr. Cain said he appreciates Mr. Whitson's work on behalf of the airport and hopes a director-emeritus position can be created for him.
"You've got a man who has a lot of institutional memory and has been a very active and faithful board member," Mr. Cain said.
"And I don't think that's something that this community can afford to toss aside."
Two other board members, Ralph Drees and Arlyn Easton, have been reappointed.
In all, there are seven voting members on the board.
Six of the 10 non-voting members are up for reappointment in September: Joseph Head, Nancy Donovan, Kenneth Scott, John Steinman, Oliver Waddell and Frank Sommerkamp.
Those appointments need the governor's approval.