John Schubert Reportedly Out As Ontario International CFO

A late report reaching the Sentinel today is that John Schubert, the chief financial officer with the Ontario International Airport Authority since 2019, has been relieved of his position.
Efforts to confirm Schubert’s termination and learn the reasons for his departure were unsuccessful at press time.
On April 1, 2019, Schubert, who had been the been senior director of finance for the Tucson Airport Authority since 2008, was installed as the overseer of the financial end of operations at Ontario International Airport
An Illinois native, Schubert holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Arizona where he majored in accounting. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, American Association of Airport Executives and the Government Finance Officers Association. He was formerly licensed as a certified public accountant in Arizona.
Prior to relocating to California, Schubert’s career involved more than two decades within the fields of financial management, operations and technology. Prior to his employment with the Tucson Airport Authority, Schubert managed audit and consulting services for a variety of nonprofit clients in his work for a Tucson-based certified public accounting firm. Previously, he had been controller of a software development start-up and chief operating officer of two social service agencies with more than 1,000 employees and annual budgets totaling $35 million.Schubert was warmly welcomed at Ontario International largely on the basis of his success after arriving at Tucson Airport in helping it overcome financial challenges that were an outgrowth of the economic downturn of 2007 that lingered for six years and became known as “the Great Recession.”
During Schubert’s tenure at Tucson Airport, the airport authority there completed a $40 million apron reconstruction project and $29 million terminal optimization program which included the revitalization of the airport’s retail and dining concessions. Schubert further played a leading role in completing a $33 million direct placement bond to refinance outstanding bond debt with a $4 million net value savings.
At Ontario International during the same timeframe, the number of passengers declined from a record 7.2 million per year in 2007 to 4.6 million, which prompted Ontario officials, led by City Councilman Alan Wapner, to wage a legal and administrative battle to wrest ownership and control of Ontario International from the City of Los Angeles, with which Ontario in 1967 had entered into a joint powers authority agreement for the operation and management of the airport. In 1985, after Ontario Airport met all of the performance criteria outlined in that agreement, Ontario ceded ownership of the aerodrome to the City of Los Angeles, which used its corporate division, Los Angeles World Airports, to run the airport.
In 2015, the City of Los Angeles and the City of Ontario reached a settlement on that litigation and in 2016, Ontario regained ownership and control of the airport.
Wapner, who in August 2012 was made the president of the Ontario International Airport Authority when that joint powers entity was created between the County of San Bernardino and the City of Ontario, has remained as president for more than 11 years. He has dominated the board throughout that entire time and his support of then-Ontario International Airport Authority Executive Director Mark Thorp’s hiring of Schubert was key to Schubert taking on the chief financial officer position.
In recent years, financial misfeasance and malfeasance at the airport and within the airport authority has become a focus of outside agencies known to be investigating Ontario and San Bernardino County officials. Contracts for a whole host of activities at the airport, including promotion of flights into and out of the facility, advertising and concessions for dining and retail sales on the airport grounds, custodial and grounds maintenance services contracts, car rental companies being able to operate at the airport, the franchises for taxicabs serving airport travelers and the lease or sale of property in, at or around the airport have been examined for known or suspected graft and kickback arrangements involving officials, information available to the Sentinel indicates.
Within the last eight hours it has been suggested that Schubert is being scapegoated for financial wrongdoing involving at least some of his political masters at the airport authority.
It was disclosed to the Sentinel that top echelon airport officials over the last two years have been provided with SUVs – sport utility vehicles generally larger than standard cars – which were said to cost in the neighborhood of $100,000 each, involving lavish added features such as rims and stereo systems. Those vehicles have also been provided with regular maintenance, including detailing, washing and internal vacuuming. Those said to have been provided with the vehicles included Atif Elkadi, the authority’s chief executive officer; James Kesler, the chief operations officer; and Jamaal Avilez, the chief administrative officer. Sources said they were not certain whether vehicles had also been provided to Eren Cello, the chief marketing and communications officer; Charles Miwa, the chief communications officer; and Elisa Grey, the chief revenue management officer.
The Sentinel today carried out a rushed and less than exhaustive search of available documentation of actions voted upon by the airport authority board, which now consists of Wapner, Ontario Councilman Jim Bowman, San Bernardino County Fourth District Supervisor Curt Hagman, former Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and former East West Bancorp Chief Operating Officer/Board Member Julia Gouw, over the last few years. That search did not turn up any indication of authorized purchases of vehicles.
The vehicles would not have been ordered and purchased and Schubert would not have signed off on purchasing them, the Sentinel was told, “without clearance from on-high, including Atif [Elkadi] and Alan [Wapner].”
Nevertheless, it was indicated to the Sentinel, Wapner and Elkadi may now be using Schubert’s imprimatur upon those vehicle purchases as the grounds for cashiering him.
The Sentinel was unable to reach Wapner, Elkadi, Schubert or Loveridge, who is now the Ontario International Airport Authority Board vice president, today.
Ontario Mayor Paul Leon told the Sentinel he had no information regarding Schubert’s current status with the airport authority.
Mark Gutglueck

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