The Los Angeles City Council moved unanimously Wednesday to review a set of public relations contracts worth about $3.8 million that were recently approved by airport commissioners.
The contracts, approved without debate by the seven-member Board of Airport Commissioners at its Jan. 14 meeting, are part of a campaign to educate travelers about major construction and improvements under way at Los Angeles International Airport. The most expensive project is a new, more than $1.5 billion international terminal scheduled to open in 2014.
Third District Councilman Dennis P. Zine of Reseda introduced the motion, saying the board did not conduct proper due diligence before approving the contracts and that it should have considered having current employees handle the education campaign. Zine, who is running for city controller, also said he objects that two companies from outside Los Angeles will receive the bulk of the funding. One is based in Santa Monica, while the other is in San Diego.
Mark Adams, director of government affairs for the airport authority, said the decisions were not rushed. He said Los Angeles World Airports does not have the capability to handle such a large-scale public information campaign in-house and noted that bids from firms outside Los Angeles out-performed local ones.
"This is to inform the traveling public about changes coming to LAX," Adams said. "This is something we don't have staff for."
The City Council's Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee will now review the three contracts to determine whether they were fairly awarded.
"Every public dollar that is spent at the airport needs to be publicly scrutinized," Zine said. "I feel like the airport needs to justify these expenditures."
The airport does not receive money from the city's general fund. Rather, its operating budgets generally come from airport uses taxes and fees paid by airlines. Still, the the council has the power to review many of its decisions.
"The underlying issue is transparency and openness," said Bill Rosendahl of the 11th Council District, which includes LAX.
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Staff writer Rick Orlov contributed to this article.