So tomorrow's shaping up to be a very interesting Dallas City Council meeting: As Rudy Bush wrote yesterday, the mayor's mighty unhappy with the no-bid concession contracts being doled out to Dallas Love Field Joint Venture and Hudson Retail at Love Field Airport, which council members have been behind for the better part of the year. The new contracts are on tomorrow's consent addendum -- meaning they are, or were, expected to pass council with no problem.
I exchanged a few e-mails yesterday with Chris Heinbaugh, the mayor's chief of staff. I asked him: If the mayor's so unhappy about this, what's he gonna do about it? To which he responded initially:
The Mayor wants to make sure the package is transparent and that it is bid it out to make sure we have the best economic deal for the City of Dallas.
That wasn't the question. I pestered Heinbaugh again to be more specific. He wrote back:
The Mayor feels this should be put out for bid. We will see how things unfold for Wednesday.
I tried for more specifics, but that was, as they say, that.
Update at 11:39 a.m.: Frank Librio just sent more information concerning the legality of these kinds of no-bid contracts. It follows, along with his original e-mail sent Monday afternoon.
Oh, and I did ask Frank Librio, in the public information office at City Hall, what several Friends wanted to know: Does the no-bid deal violate the section of the Dallas City Code that says, "No city expenditure exceeding $25,000 may be made without advertising for competitive bids pursuant to Chapter 252, Texas Local Government Code"? Frank responded:
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"This is not an expenditure. It is a concession contract in which the contractors pay the City for the privilege of operating a concessions business on the airport.
The section cited does not apply."
City Attorney Tom Perkins called last last night and promised to respond later today with the information that shows, nope, what council's about to OK is legally copacetic.
And now here's what Librio sent at 11:39 this morning:
In a concession contract, the City does not "make or lose" money. Rather, it may make more or less money over time, depending on the success of the concessionaire. While the city has the option of using a bid or RFP process, it is not required and there will be times that staff concludes that either it would be difficult to determine the amount of money that may be made during a contractual period (e.g., when demand may be dramatically impacted by an ongoing construction project) or that other factors are important (e.g., past experience with a concessionaire).