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LAX Panel to Seek Bids on Expanded PR Contract

January 09, 2002

Without a word of discussion, Los Angeles Airport commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to seek bids on a new and expanded public relations contract for Los Angeles International Airport.

The commissioners' decision came four days after Encino-based Winner & Associates pulled out of a contract extension with the city's airport department to inform the public about plans to expand LAX.

The one-year extension with the politically connected firm had been approved by commissioners last month and was worth up to $1.5 million.

Winner & Associates was hired in 1998 to conduct public outreach for former Mayor Richard Riordan's plan to expand LAX. The firm and its subcontractors had received $8.7 million over three years.

But Riordan's plan died when he left office. Incoming Mayor James K. Hahn embarked on a course that, instead of pushing for expansion, emphasizes making LAX safer and more secure.

Company President Charles Winner said last week that unfair criticism of his firm's contract led him to sever the relationship with the airport. Winner said he did not want controversy to overshadow Hahn's new plans for LAX.

But Hahn said Tuesday in Ontario that he hopes Winner will bid on the new contract.

Winner hosted three fund-raisers for Hahn in connection with last year's mayoral campaign. The executive and his associates gave more than $20,000 to Hahn.

Hahn said the fund-raisers held by Winner have had no influence on any actions related to the airport contract.

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