ATL concessions: Deal done, City Council votes for vendors picked by Mayor Reed’s staff

By David Pendered

The Atlanta City Council approved Tuesday night a $3 billion package of airport concessions.

The actual outcome was almost anti-climatic, coming as it did after almost five hours of debate. At times, the issue seemed to become a vehicle for various officials to vent their spleen over frustrations that have mounted as the selection process ground on four months longer than expected for a variety of reasons.

Mayor Kasim Reed criticized Common Cause of Georgia, which has called for greater transparency in the city’s contracting process, along with campaign finance reform.

Councilmember Ivory Lee Young asked unnamed critics to prove corruption if the critics think the council is corrupt.

Councilmember Felicia Moore couldn’t get an answer as to why the names of businesses to be awarded contracts cannot be revealed to the public now.

In the end, the council voted 12-3 at 9:35 p.m. to support the recommendations of Reed’s administration. Airport chief Louis Miller said more than 2,300 man hours went into the selection process.

The mayor is expected to sign the legislation that awards contracts to the following food and beverage concessionaires:

  • Hojeij Branded Foods Inc.
  • Concessions/H&H JV3
  • Host + ATLchefs JV3
  • DNCTHS Atlanta Partners
  • Host + ATLchefs JV5
  • Atlanta Restaurant Partners, LLC
  • Global Concessions, Inc.
  • Mack, Inc.
  • Vida-Velocity Management, LLC

The following retail packages also were approved:

  • LTL ATL JV, LLC
  • Paradies-Atlanta II JV.

The meeting began with comments from about 17 individuals who expressed their views on the contracts. The council then entered parliamentary position that allows the entire council to act as a committee to discuss the proposal – a position that allows for more conversation than permitted during a regular meeting, and which greatly extended the length of the meeting.

That decision set the stage for the council to vote on the airport package around 9:30 p.m. and to adjourn shortly after 10 p.m.

The public comments included remarks by:

Calvin Vismale, board chair, Sevananda Natural Foods Market:

  • Lost a bid but hopes to be successful next time. Thinks the airport should offer more foods for passengers who eat no animal products and those who eat raw foods.

John Sherman, board chair, Fulton County Taxpayers Association:

  • Urged the council to delay a vote and review the selection process. Contended the process violated the state’s Open Meeting Law because its meetings were held in secret and minutes were not made public.

Al Bartell, advocate for small business:

  • Said the selection process was rigged to favor big businesses at the expense of small businesses. Said Atlanta residents will rally to ensure future city contracts are accessible for small businesses.

Harold Bevis, vice president, public affairs, Delta:

  • The selection process functioned well. Delta needs the international terminal to open on time because it’s already selling tickets for flights that would use the new terminal.

William Perry, executive director, Common Cause of Georgia:

  • Urged the council to delay a vote. The selection process has not been as transparent as it is said to be.

Reed took the podium in the public area of the City Council Chambers to respond to questions and comments from Councilmember Michael Julian Bond. Bond was pressing the point of why the administration had structured the 152 airport sites into one single piece of legislation.

Reed responded that the city would be vulnerable to lawsuits if the council altered the administration’s package. Reed and Bond went back and forth a few times before Reed began a defense or explanation that lasted several minutes about the airport concessions package.

Then Reed turned his attention to media response to Common Cause’s calls for the council to slow down its review of the concessions package. He started with an editorial in a Columbus newspaper before turning to Common Cause.

“The Columbus newspaper,” Reed said. “We could finance Columbus with two months of our operations.”

Reed also linked Common Cause to a front page story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Common Cause has been bashing the City of Atlanta for the past two weeks,” Reed said. “Talk about pay to play reform. A massive front page story besmirching my character, my name and you all too.”

Later Reed said: “For God’s sake, Common Cause – which has driven the media inquiry – has so much stain on it that it stinks,” Reed said.

Reed said that William Perry, Common Cause’s executive director, had exceeded the limits on campaign contributions from individuals in campaigns he waged against Councilmember Carla Smith, and against Councilmember Kwanza Hall when Hall served on the Atlanta school board. Specifically, Reed said Perry had raised more from some individuals than would be allowed in the rules Perry now promotes.

Perry was granted a few minutes to respond, at the urging of Moore and council President Ceasar Mitchell. Perry said both his campaigns were for open seats, meaning that he was defeated by Smith and Hall in wide open campaigns. Perry said he abided by the campaign rules at the time, and does think the campaign process would be improved by tighter regulations.

After the mayor left the podium, Bond responded to Reed’s comments:

“I appreciate your comments and your passion for our city. I appreciate what you said and look forward to future discussion with the airport chief, and I appreciate your defense of our city. I had a conversation, one of many, with Maynard [Jackson, a former mayor and namesake of the new international terminal] about public service when I received my first bruising.”

Bond said Jackson advised him that politics is “one of the most beautiful career choices you can make, but also the most unforgiving.”

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

9 replies
  1. J1954 says:

    Crooks…its funny how the airport were supposed to give the small packages to local, new, and small businesses, but they YET AGAIN award the packages to the same people who have already been in the airport, have ties to the Mayor and other city officials, and have had murky pasts…the winners are:

    Package 6 – Daniel Halpern (Atlanta Restaurant Partners, LLC)

    Package 7 – Terrance Harps (Global Concessions, Inc.)

    Package 8 – Mack Wilbourn (Mack, Inc.)

    Package 9 – Wassim of Hojeij (Vida-Velocity Management, LLC)

    Report

    Reply
  2. 2 Peter 2 19 says:

    J1954,

    Completely Agree. The ties run deep on every package.

    If any investigative reporter does their due diligence, they will find extensive ties on every package.

    Here is one for a sub under Hojeij (with no food background-hence why were they on the team?):

    1. Tamerra Coggins and Tia Jones: JOCO Concessions- Sub of Hojeij

    Tamera(Coggins-Wynn): Married to Greg Wynn- Both with CTC Construction

    A. CTC Recently (November 2011) Won a contract with the city to do emergency services. http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/2011/images/proposed/11R1539.pdf

    -See CTC Construction’s Project list: http://www.ctcconstruct.com/projects.html

    It is interesting to note that all of their projects are with the city of Atlanta and then mixed in is Mack II (Mack Wilbourn)????

    B. Greg Wynn Hosted a fund raiser for Kasim Reed at his house: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.144331099668.138910.39673929668&type=1

    C. Tia Jones is with Jason Geter (they also own Strivers Row together) who has entertainment ties with the mayor through Grand Hustle

    D. Tia, Jason, and Greg attended a private dinner with the Mayor and P-Diddy (Jones and Geter right of mayor at table):

    http://freddyo.com/puffy-helps-to-honor-the-59-mayor-of-atlanta-kasim-reed/uncategorized/attachment/dsc_0280-8/

    Tamera Coggins was originally with the group Xscape before they released their debut album- hence the connection with Jason Geter (T.I. and his girl Tameka Cottle from escape) T.I. and Geter are business partners in Grand Hustle- All entertainment ties with Reed:

    Reed and Geter

    http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/photos/stylus//1221879-Kasim-Reed-Jason-Geter.jpg

    Geter and Tia Jones

    http://freddyo.com/puffy-helps-to-honor-the-59-mayor-of-atlanta-kasim-reed/uncategorized/attachment/dsc_0152-13/

    I wonder why Reed got so mad tonight? Something to hide? There will be a lot of people looking under a lot of rocks. Thank you for starting the dialogue David!Report

    Reply
  3. Janet Rollins says:

    I am a woman….I am proud of women that are working and have good business practice. I disagree with the negativity. “2 Peter 2 19”–Did you submit a contract and not win?? What is the issue here??Report

    Reply
  4. Burroughston Broch says:

    @ 2 Peter 2 19 and J1954

    According to the Secretary of State, Mack II is owned by Mack Wilbourn. Surprise!

    The Mayor’s little piggy friends are going to suckle on the Airport teats for many years. Report

    Reply
  5. J1954 says:

    Janet, with your name I would hope your a woman…”what is the issue here?” , either you have been sleeping under a rock, ignorant, or part of the process, – this is blatant corruption at its finest…and I think the honest people who have put in time, money, and heart in the process and were cheated “care who owns what” – dont be naive and dont make redundant comments.

    Burroughston – all the LLC’s are run by the people mentioned in my first post with previous airport ties and currently operating in the airport…Report

    Reply
  6. Janet Rollins says:

    You are right J1954!!–I’m ignorant–just like you. Stop being chauvinistic in 2012! You are trying to CONTROL my comments “don’t make redundant comments” and positive thoughts, get a grip! Those chauvinistic days are over. Disgruntle business bullies don’t get far. Take care.Report

    Reply
  7. J1954 says:

    No one is being chauvinistic. I’m just trying to tell you to wake up and look at the corruption in the bidding process of the airport – and those in the industry know it is blatantly obvious, but no one has come forward, unfortunately. Gender was never an issue and no one even mentioned women in the first comments until you said “I am a woman….I am proud of women that are working and have good business practice” … ??? Anyway good luck in life.Report

    Reply
  8. ANONYMOUS says:

    @  2 Peter 2 19 and J1954
     
    Another tie-in:
     
    Sam Joyner, owner of The Real Chow Baby.  His son Chip Joyner was a classmate of Kasim at Howard University.   After his father “acquired” the brand, Chip opened up his own location in Ponce and donated $7,674 to Kasim for the Centers of Hope during the grand opening in December 2010.  Here’s a picture of Reed accepting the check:
     
    http://www.atlantamagazine.com/Pics/Blogs/1002692/kasim_check-001.jpg
     
    From left to right:
     
    Carol Joyner (wife of Chip),  Louise Joyner (wife of Sam),  Kasim Reed ,Sam Joyner (father of Chip), Chip Joyner
     
     Report

    Reply

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