In a move apparently intended to bolster its chances of recapturing city permission to hold a 1990 air show, Air/Space America has relieved retired Rear Adm. Bill Walsh of financial responsibilities and demoted him from president to vice president for operations.
Bob Wilson, former San Diego congressman, chief executive officer and one of the founders of the organization, said Thursday that Walsh requested the change of duty to reduce his working hours. Wilson insisted that the change in title is not a demotion.
“This is a forward step we’ve been planning for some time, and we’re taking it, and it’s going to work to our advantage,” he said.
Several San Diego City Council members have pointed to a $4.2-million debt from the 1988 aerial extravaganza at Brown Field as one of the reasons for their Feb. 7 decision to revoke the organization’s permit to stage a similar show next year and withdraw $300,000 in city support.
At least one councilman, Ed Struiksma, has said he is doubtful about supporting the organization’s bid for another show with Walsh in charge. Councilman Bob Filner has also said that he sees no reason to reconsider Air/Space America.
“It’s true that some of the council members have indicated . . . that he’s the problem,” Wilson said. “But it’s very easy to say that without knowing the man.”
The decision comes just weeks before Air/Space America is scheduled to request that the council reconsider its closed-door vote to cancel the air show. The hearing will be conducted in open session April 10.
Air/Space America is competing with an unnamed, rival group of aerial showmen that has proposed taking over the show. The group is led by four men who organized components of the show for Air/Space America last year, but have since broken away from the organization.
Air/Space America has hired two men to handle finances along with Wilson, who also will take a more active role in organizing and promoting the show. Walsh’s position is a new one that puts him in charge of arranging the show’s events, Wilson said.