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City board again delays meeting to select new LAX shops and restaurants

September 7, 2010 | 11:13 am
Photo: Travelers dine in the recently rebuilt restaurants and foodcourt at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX Airport. Officials are aiming at updating other terminals at Los Angeles International Airport with trendy shops and enticing eateries that would do much to spruce up a drab gateway often pummeled by low passenger satisfaction surveys. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Council is back in session after a two-week summer break. But that doesn’t mean a quick resolution of the politically charged fight over new shops and restaurants at Los Angeles International Airport.

The Board of Referred Powers, a panel made up of five council members, was supposed to meet this Thursday to take up the proposed concession contracts, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. That date was selected last month by Councilman Tony Cardenas, who promised that there would be an all-day session devoted to the topic.

But because the day also falls during Rosh Hashana, the Jewish holiday, the meeting was canceled. Efforts to hold the meeting on Wednesday also fizzled, because Rosh Hashana starts at sunset on that day.

The rescheduling was only the latest in a series of delays that have frustrated the companies that were recommended for LAX concessions by airport staffers. Cardenas said last month that some of the delays were needed to allow City Atty. Carmen Trutanich to review conflict-of-interest allegations posed by a losing bidder.

So now the LAX contracts will be the subject of a meeting next week -- Monday, Sept. 13. If the Board of Referred Powers doesn’t finish up on that day, they’ll have to wait a bit longer. That’s because the council goes back into recess two days later to allow its members to attend a national conference for city leaders.

The LAX contracting fight has exposed questions about the relationships between the city’s elected officials and the many lobbying firms that are weighing in on the airport contracts. For example, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who also sits on the Board of Referred Powers, has raised nearly $55,000 in contributions over the last year from companies involved in the LAX concession fight.

HMS Host, one of the incumbent concessionaires, is seeking to persuade the board to throw out the bidding process on the grounds that there were financial conflicts of interest between airport consulting firms and two of the winning bidders. Those bidders have dismissed the accusations as a stalling tactic by a company that stands to lose its business at LAX.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Travelers dine in the recently rebuilt restaurants and food court at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX Airport. Officials are aiming at updating other terminals at Los Angeles International Airport with trendy shops and enticing eateries that would do much to spruce up a drab gateway often pummeled by low passenger satisfaction surveys. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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