A lucrative contract for food services at the new John Wayne Airport terminal scheduled to open next year may be delayed because of an inquiry into alleged misuse of minority contractor rules at Los Angeles International Airport.
Orange County officials identified Andy M. Camacho on Friday as the proposed minority partner for Host International Inc. at the new John Wayne terminal. Camacho, a Los Angeles resident who is a political ally of Los Angeles Councilman Richard Alatorre, is also a partner in a LAX concession now being reviewed by Los Angeles Airport officials.
"We don't think there's anything wrong, and he'll probably still get the contract here, but just to be safe we're going to run it by the Federal Aviation Administration's civil rights office," said Kathie Rutherford, John Wayne Airport spokeswoman. "We won't sign the contract until the FAA is satisfied with it."
At issue is whether Orange County's proposed minority-owned business contract with Camacho requires him to engage in hands-on management of Host's John Wayne Airport franchise. The minority business contracts at LAX have come under fire for allegedly allowing Camacho and others to serve as mere figureheads and not active corporate officials, contrary to the intent of federal disadvantaged/minority business enterprise regulations.
Camacho could not be reached for comment Friday.
Rutherford said airport officials believe that the John Wayne contract meets all regulations imposed by the FAA on minority contractors.
Vincent Joubert Jr., the FAA's regional civil rights officer, said his office will review John Wayne Airport's minority-owned business contracts at the request of Orange County officials. He said he does not know when the review will be completed.
"I commend them for it," Joubert said of the county's decision to seek a review.
"I don't know yet what was contained in L.A. contracts, so I can't make a comparison with the John Wayne situation," Joubert said. "John Wayne Airport asked us to take a look at their contracts to make sure that the content prescribes levels of participation for joint venture partners. We said we'd keep them advised, but the final call is John Wayne Airport's. And so far they've done everything they're supposed to do."
The Board of Supervisors selected Host International last March to operate a 9,188-square-foot central food and beverage area, including a restaurant in the new passenger terminal scheduled to open April 1, 1990.
On the same day, the board selected McDonald's to operate the new terminal's fast-food stands, which will be physically separated from the central food and beverage area operated by Host International.
Host will also operate two cocktail bars at both ends of the new terminal.
Host's contract with Orange County anticipates that the Los Angeles-based firm will gross $4.2 million during the first year of operation at John Wayne. The county will receive at least $760,000 a year from the Host contract.