We at Common Cause Georgia are calling on the Atlanta City Council to delay voting on Hartsfield Jackson Airport concession contracts. There is a significant Cause for Pause. This round of contracting is the largest in North American aviation history, and we feel the process should not be rushed. The City’s Transportation council has already approved the contracts, and the full council vote is set to take place January 3rd.
On December 15th, the Council’s Transportation Committee members received the proposed contracts couriered to their homes shortly before Midnight for a 10 A.M. vote the next day. This vote took place just two days before the Council’s holiday recess. The committee approved the contracts for a full Council vote that will take place the first day after their recess (the day after a federally observed holiday).
There has been a history of corruption and cronyism, detailed in a report by Professor Kerwin Swint. The integrity of the current contracting process has been called into question several times since it began. Common Cause Georgia is concerned about the lack of transparency and the perception of corruption (also see FOX 5 I-Team story, and AJC article). “We hope the selection of proposed contractors has been a fair and impartial process”, said William Perry, Executive Director of Common Cause Georgia. “Unfortunately it has not been transparent enough for anyone to know if it has indeed been fair and impartial.”
We propose that the Atlanta City Council delay voting to approve the contracts until their January 17th or February 6th full council meeting. The added time is needed for councilmembers to review the proposed contracts and gain a better understanding of the selection process. The pause will also give citizens the opportunity to comment and voice their concerns.
“We understand that there is a timeline for opening the international terminal. However, contracts that are worth over $3 billion and covering a period of ten years certainly seem important enough to allow a few weeks for due diligence and public input. If the City Council votes to approve these contracts on January 3, they will have only allowed three working days to review the largest airport concession selection process in North American aviation history. The timing alone brings the process into question and shows there is Cause for Pause” added Perry.
We are calling on all Atlanta citizens to contact their City Councilmembers and highlight the Cause for Pause. Answers to frequently asked question about the Cause for Pause campaign can be found here. Contact information for City Councilmember and help identifying which district you live in is located here.