Staff fights back on Love Field sweetheart deal

We’ve talked a bit about the 12-year no-bid concessions deal at Love Field that almost slid by the city council a few weeks ago. Instead, Mayor Tom Leppert and a few other councilmen raised questions about why the concessions spaces were being given to influential incumbents rather than being bid out to all-comers — you know, kind of like the way those of us in private business work every day.

Anyway, the city staff prepared a defense of its recommendation protecting the incumbents (Gilbert Aranza, State Rep. Helen Giddings and U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson). Interestingly enough, do you know what their main point seems to be? According to the handout provided to the council committee reviewing the deal, it looks like staff feels sorry for the incumbent concessionaires, has listened to their arguments that “business is tough out there” and decided to protect them by “negotiating” a deal instead of bidding the space out.

And of course there’s the concern about how “risky” the business might be for new concessionaires, and there’s even the chance that there could be a “total disruption of services” if someone new wins the contracts.

Talk about a scaredy cat analysis.

The staff offers a sprightly defense of the incumbents’ job over the past few years, and there’s an analysis about how the incumbents haven’t made as much money as they would have had 9-11 not happened and how the incumbents have helped the city by investing a bunch of money improving their spaces at Love Field. And that seems to be the main reason staff wants to give the no-bid deal to the incumbents: They deserve it. Funny, because that’s the same reason a couple of hyped-up councilmen used when talking about the deal, too.

Truth of the matter is that business is tough, and anyone who signs a lease with the city knows it eventually the lease will end. But that’s why it’s called “business” instead of “charity”, and that’s why this deal needs to be bid out to whoever wants a shot at it.


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Oak Cliff.