Former New Orleans Airport Board Head Quits
The former head of the governing board of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has resigned from the panel amid questions about his use of an airport credit card.

Dan Packer quit Monday while saying he had documented every charge made on the card. According to The Times-Picayune, Packer told Mayor Mitch Landrieu that he did not want to be a distraction to the mayor or airport operations.

Packer is a former chief executive of Entergy New Orleans. He was appointed Aviation Board chairman in 2002 shortly after Ray Nagin became mayor. He served in the unpaid position until August and remained on the board until this week.

A recent review of credit-card use at the airport raised questions about some charges made by top administrators - including Packer - and a lack of oversight over the spending.

The report by an accounting firm found "significant travel expenses by several employees" and "significant meal and entertainment expenses" by airport director Sean Hunter, who resigned in 2009.

Hunter this month pleaded guilty in federal court in a case in which he and his wife are accused of collecting insurance proceeds on a car that was undamaged in Hurricane Katrina and then covering up their crime. Packer and other board members are not implicated in that case.

The credit-card analysis covers activity from January 2008 through October 2010. During that 34-month period, Packer submitted charges of more than $76,000. In 20 months, Hunter's total was more than $77,000.

Packer said earlier this month that he documented every charge he made on his card. He said he often charged airport-related business dinners and lunches.

He said the airport paid for a trip he took in 2008 to Dubai, where he and other business leaders attended a meeting of the World Trade Organization. He said he also traveled to Hawaii each January for meetings of the American Association of Airport Executives and visited Washington, D.C., several times a year on airport business.

Without thanking Packer for his service, Landrieu issued a brief statement in which he said the airport's new management team has "significantly improved existing policies that are in line with our aggressive financial reforms at City Hall."

Packer's appointment came after the administration of the previous mayor, Marc Morial, was criticized for excessive patronage at the airport.