The monumental task of overhauling Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with more than 150 new restaurants, retail shops, and other businesses includes several steps: the heated fight between dozens of vendors to win lucrative spots, the messy battle to convince Atlanta City Council to approve the proposals, and the legal fallout that follows. We're well into the latter.
A Fulton County judge yesterday ordered Mayor Kasim Reed to allow a foreign currency exchange firm (PDF) which failed to win a spot in the Atlanta airport's new international terminal up to 30 days to review competing companies' proposals.
Though the delay is unlikely to affect the opening of the airport's new international concourse, city attorneys have warned that the move, the latest in a ping-pong battle between City Hall and the currency exchange vendor, could open the city to lengthy legal disputes by other spurned vendors. Which as we type are surely being considered, if not prepared.
In June, Travelex, a Delaware-based corporation which conducts business in more than 100 airports, answered the city's request for proposals, or RFP, to exchanges travelers' yen, euros, and rupees at Concourse E and F at the Atlanta aviation hub. In mid-October, the firm discovered that one of its competitors, International Currency Exchange, or ICE, was selected to win the contract.
Travelex, through its lawyer at Troutman Sanders, filed an Open Records Request to see how the city scored bidders' proposals, but was told by Adam Smith, Atlanta's chief procurement officer, that the information was exempt from public disclosure. (CL was told the same after it requested a list of prospective food and retail vendors which failed to comply with e-Verify regulations, a move which caused the city to restart the entire procurement process.)
In its lawsuit, filed on Dec. 8 in Fulton County Superior Court, Travelex argued the city made major mathematical errors scoring the different firms' proposals (PDF) and took issue with the city's short time frame for filing a protest. It asked the city for a temporary restraining order to block the signing of the contract until it could review proposals.
On Dec. 15, Wright denied the motion (PDF) — but not without first expressing concerns about the city's procurement process:
“The Court is concerned that the statutes and local laws governing this process prevent an unsuccessful bidder from any any meaningful review of the City's basis for and decision to award the contract to the successful bidder until after the Mayor has signed the agreement, which in the Court's opinion, is likely too late and only serves to promote further litigation and the expenditure of City resources."
“The Court acknowledges that in this case, it is bound by precedent to find that the award of the contract to Lenlyn is not final because the City Council has not yet adopted legislation authorizing the execution of the contract, and the Mayor has not signed said legislation."
“However, the Court is compelled to note for the record that the City and legislature should be aware of the vagueness inherent in the law and ordinances as to when the award of a contract becomes 'final,' and they should also consider the rights of frustrated bidders who need to examine records in preparation for filing a protest after negotiations have ended with the City and the City has announced the party with whom it intends to engage in contract negotiations."
Wright's temporary order issued yesterday says the city must provide Travelex the documents it requested in December and up to 30 days to review them. According to video shot by WSB's Richard Belcher, the judge remains concerned about whether the city's procurement process allows firms sufficient opportunity to protest awards.
"I'm really troubled by this whole procedure because I don't think it provides for meaningful review," Wright said.
Attorneys for the city argued that all other disappointed parties in the procurement program — and judging from the packed crowd of lawyers and lobbyists in City Council chambers on the night the contracts were approved, there are many — would try similar tactics to drag on the entire process.
"We are disappointed in Judge Wright's order and look forward to an opportunity to clarify the city's process," Reed spokesman Reese McCranie told CL.
It's unlikely the delay could affect the opening of currency exchange locations in the new international terminal. Two currency exchange firms — Travelex being one of them — already conduct business throughout the airport. Either firm could ostensibly set up shop in the interim in the new concourse.
Very interesting post on online horoscope reading. Here is another great post on Aries and…
>Not understand why they can't adopt a pet when their current ones are unvaccinated and…
Hopefully he has enough sense not to repeat the TSPLOST debacle.
@ Mark from Atlanta "Call me crazy, but I really don't think the U.S. Navy…
"wringing his hands in indecision, paralyzed by over-analysis." __________________________________________________ Call me crazy, but I really…
"After four years of malaise, Reagan helped turn around the U.S. economy." _____________________________________________________________ Reagan: Through…