Wednesday, December 19, 2001
Council Delays Contract With Firm Hired to Promote LAX Plan
By NICK YULICO, Staff Writer
The City Council yesterday decided it needed more time and further staff reports before voting on a city contract extension with a public relations firm hired to promote a master plan for large-scale expansion of Los Angeles International Airport.
The Encino-based Winner and Associates was paid $8.7 million to promote the original LAX Master Plan drafted under Richard Riordan’s mayoral administration. Mayor James Hahn has shifted the airport master plan’s focus from expansion to security.
The council approved Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski’s motion to ask the legislative analyst and City Administrative Office to report just what the firm gave the city in return for the millions already spent.
“We understand that they pay them [Winner & Associates] to sit in meetings to strategize how to get these plans through the council,” Councilwoman Ruth Galanter said.
The contract between the city and the firm expired Dec. 14. The new year-long contract extension would total $1.5 million, which would be paid to Winner & Associates on a pay-per-use basis—meaning the money has been set aside to pay the firm only when it works for the city, Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook said.
Galanter said she disagreed with the city spending the additional money on an unformulated plan at a time when the airport is in financial trouble and many airport workers have been laid off.
“What do we need a firm sending info for a plan that has not been formulated?” Galanter asked. “We’re throwing a million-and-a-half dollars at a PR firm and at the same time, the airport is running out of money. Winner’s firm is not a starving business deeply affected by Sept. 11.”
So far, Hahn has outlined the new plan and staff will now come up with the details of it, Middlebrook said.
Middlebrook also said that the public relations firm will be needed to sit on hearings as the plan develops, and that not renewing the contract or looking for another firm will only delay the plan’s realization.
“The new plan doesn’t exist yet,” said Galanter. “There is an LAX demonstration today where laid off workers are demonstrating right now. The mayor can choose between a PR firm not needed at this time versus those people.”
Councilman Jack Weiss said he was concerned that the contract was a payback to Chuck Winner, head of the firm, after reading an article in the Los Angeles Times that said Winner and his company donated $20,000 to Hahn’s campaign.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company