INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Comms firm bows out of LAX RFP amid pork-barrelPR wrangle

LOS ANGELES: Beleaguered by unhappy passengers, new security

requirements, and a recent PR scandal, the Los Angeles Board of Airport

Commissioners last week approved a new communications RFP.



At the same meeting, council members rescinded the renewal of a $1.5 million one-year contract for Winner & Associates, a Southern

California firm that has won five contract renewals in the past three

years from the commission, according to Charles Winner, firm

president.



The PR firm came under fire earlier this month when the Los Angeles

Times ran a story suggesting it was given the airport contract as a

payoff for supporting Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn with campaign

contributions and fundraisers. The story also questioned the almost

$9 million the firm has been paid, quoting one subcontractor as

feeling "guilty" for taking payment for performing minimal work.



Winner disputed the allegations as "ridiculous," pointing out that his

firm first began its airport work under previous Los Angeles Mayor

Richard Riordan. The agency was retained in 1998 to help educate the

public about a controversial airport expansion that was canceled under

the Hahn administration.



Mayor Hahn has publicly expressed his desire to see W&A bid for the new

contract. However, because of the controversy, W&A has removed itself

from the renewal process.



The RFP calls for expanded public relations assistance in four areas of

"safety and security," according to board minutes, but does not specify

a budget.



See Tales from Tinseltown, p. 28.



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