D-Day For Proposed Briscoe Field Commercialization. UPDATE: Plan Rejected 4-0

UPDATE: Commissioner rejects Commercialization plan 4-0.

Gwinnett County Commissioners are set to vote this afternoon at their 2 PM Business Meeting on the proposal for “A Public-Private Partnership for the Lease, Operation and Improvement of Gwinnett County Airport-Briscoe Field.” If the Commissioners do indeed vote today the proposal will more than likely be rejected.

With the resignation last week of District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter the Commission is left with four members. Two have stated their opposition to commercialization of Briscoe and two have said they wanted to study the issue. The best proponents of commercialization can hope for is a two-two tie which still means the measure is dead.

One of the allegations against Lassester was that she was attempting to sell her vote on the commercialization proposal.

Yesterday Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, held a press conference asking the Commission to delay the vote.

“The four remaining commissioners should not proceed with a vote when voices of more than 200,000 citizens, from an entire district, are not going to be represented,” said Smith.

Smith claims the BOC blocked him from making his proposal public. The CEO said the commercialization could actually be good for the community. “People in Dacula and Lawrenceville have more to gain from this than anybody,” said Smith citing the new jobs and added revenue the airport could create.

It seems unlikely the vote will be postponed.


  1. Patrick T. Malone says:

    Shirley was District 1. Mike Beaudreau is District 3.
    Based on reporting on details of bid – no county income for 4 years, immediate county investment in infrastructure, inadequate operational details, inadequate financial details, etc. there is no justification to delay the BOC vote or put it to vote of the people.
    I supported privatization on the assumption the BOC could monetize a non-core asset with little or no risk. That clearly isn’t the case now.

    • Brett Smith says:


      I will make sure you get the proposal directly. It is important for me that the record is set straight because facts taken out of context do not reflect the real situation in this case. For example, the staff failed to even mention the $110 million dollar direct investment which we were providing or any of the economic benefits. Further, to be clear, there was no risk in this deal to the County period. Buzz, do you really think that our team would have spent over 3 years on a project only to submit a proposal with inadequate details? In total, submissions to the County by Propeller exceed over 600 pages. No WAY was it inadequate. I would submit that our team which owns and or operates over 37 airports handling over 180 million passengers annually knows a thing or two about the business…. The whole process was handled disgracefully by the BOC. I can more than except a deal falling apart on a level playing field but the shenanigans in this case were way off the charts. Behavior like this is not acceptable and for the benefit of the citizens I would hope that they get there act together.

  2. rrrrr says:

    I wonder if the “Brett” that mentioned his “support of Mike B” last week is the same Brett who just commented to the entire Gwinnett commission on 6/5/12 about his “campaign speeches”?
    Mike B. voted logically, but Propeller seems to be steamed right about now.

    The tirade had the personal tone of a friend betrayed…

    Just an observation from the upper decks.

    • Brett Smith says:

      I don’t recall voicing support at all for Mike B last week. The reality is that Mike must not have even bothered to read the proposal. The reason why I say this is because he stated his reason for objecting was his concern that the County could be liable if the airport were to fail. Propellers proposal which will be made public shortly, clearly and definitively states that the County will in no way be liable. Its somewhat shocking that he made that comment. No betrayal to me, the real betrayal is to the citizens. I think people will feel differently once have had the opportunity to see the proposal for themselves. In any event, what is the point of blocking the publics ability to see the proposal in the first place? PPP projects all over the world and in the U.S. are normally available online so people can learn about them.

      • rrrrr says:

        Thank you for the reply it’s appreciated

        As to the board getting its act together;
        Funny that’s exactly what IMG advised before the RFP process began.

        I would like to know if you care to reply, did this data shown below change in the latest submission?
        (Sourced from CBS 46 PDF – I can’t confirm its your work product RP022‐10 )
        Page 29


        In as much as PA was formed specifically for this project we have no audited financials available.

        The financing capacity is covered above in section D1.0 and in the proceeding documentation. The PA has very strong financial institutions standing by to fund this project and has sufficient cash to meet immediate needs.

        PA is not currently rated by any of the nationally recognized credit rating services as PA was recently formed for this project. Therefore, there is no “credit rating” as the term is typically used.

  3. Jimmie says:

    This is the right thing to do. Thousands of people would have had their way of life changed due to commercial airliners flying over their houses. I’m all for a larger airport of here in the North side. Why can’t one be slapped up between Lawrenceville and Gainesville somewhere. The only thing that would be affected would be chickens.

    • Jimmie,

      I doubt any private company is going to want to come here and try to privatize and existing airport or seek to build a new one in Georgia anytime soon. The sad byproduct of yesterday’s vote I fear is that Bricoe will remain as is for the foreseeable future. No Commissioner will want to risk the political capital it will take to do anything to improve Briscoe and it will increasingly become a financial sinkhole.

  4. From WABE news:
    “Shortly after, Smith stormed out. Outside the building, Smith vented.
    “Is it more important to appease a few angry people or to be concerned with generations to come? They just f— themselves,” said Smith. “We just wanted a fair and level playing field and we didn’t get it.”
    Smith says he plans to make public the company’s 700-page proposal online.”
    PR-tip: Do not address the media when you are angry.
    Mr. Smith, Please make the proposal public. I’m sure we’ll post it here.

    • Brett Smith says:

      Mike you could not be more right. I didn’t think I needed to say to him “um that’s off the record”. I am more upset about how screwed the people were on this one than anything. Last week Chairwoman Nash “vowed to restore the public trust”. Making the decision that she did, something, with such magnitude under the current set of circumstances certainty didn’t accomplish her pledge. People should have been able to see it and I promise you this they will by tomorrow.

  5. Brett Smith says:


    Sorry to see that you are so cynical. But I suppose with the leadership in Gwinnett or lack there of its understandable. You may want to consider that everyone in the world is not selfish and that some people actually do care. I never claimed to be Ghandi but I try to make a difference recognizing that everything is not all about me.

    In regard to your uncalled for, and frankly obnoxious jab at my intentions, well I guess its always easier to criticize than to create especially when one is anonymous.

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