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LAX contract bidder accuses ex-airport commissioner of conflict

June 18, 2013|By Dan Weikel

A bidder for a lucrative media contract at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday accused a former airport commissioner of conflict of interest because of his involvement with a joint venture recommended for the work.

In a formal protest, Clear Channel Airports leveled the conflict allegation against Alan Rothenberg, chairman of Premier Partnerships, which has joined JC Decaux Airport Inc., and Time Warner in a bid to handle indoor advertising, sponsorships and other media opportunities for LAX.

Rothenberg, a prominent businessman and former sports executive, resigned as president of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners in late 2010 after serving five years. He could not be reached for comment.

JC Decaux, Premier and Time Warner were recommended for the media contract that could provide up to $350 million in revenue for Los Angeles World Airports, the operator of LAX, by the end of December 2020. Clear Channel was ranked second.

The airport commission Tuesday postponed approval of the contract until the city attorney could review the allegations and make recommendations for how to proceed.

Stuart Shanus, Clear Channel's attorney, told commissioners that Rothenberg may have a conflict of interest under the government code because he participated in discussions and worked on plans related to the contract as a commissioner.

"It's not so simple that a commissioner can resign and sign a contract after leaving the commission," Shanus said. "That commissioner cannot be involved in a contract, and that cannot be allowed to happen here."

Shanus also alleged that Clear Channel was not provided the same information by the airport as JC Decaux was to help prepare its bid, creating an uneven playing field.

Ellen Berkowitz, an attorney representing JC Decaux disputed the allegations, saying she was "astonished" that Clear Channel accused Rothenberg of impropriety at the commission meeting and not in its written bid protest submitted last week to the airport.

If Clear Channel was not satisfied with the information it received, she said, there was plenty of opportunity to complain sooner in the bid process.


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