Steps down over conflict of interests

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Airport Commission President Alan Rothenberg resigned Friday, saying his ties to a food and beverage concessionaire at Los Angeles International Airport was slowing down the airport’s modernization.

Rothenberg is a member of the board of California Pizza Kitchen, which has restaurants at the airport operated by HMS Host.

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When HMS Host submitted bids for several new contracts that would enable it to continue operating concessions at the airport, Rothenberg was deemed to have a conflict of interest.

As a result, the Airport Commission was forced to pass on the responsibility of awarding the concessions to the Board of Referred Powers, resulting in delays.

The board, which consists of Los Angeles City Council members, ultimately decided not to award the largest contract to anybody because of flaws in the bidding process.

That contract is again up for grabs and Rothenberg, in his resignation letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency which operates the airport, cannot afford further delays.

“We simply cannot take that risk as it might adversely impact LAWA’s ability to complete the concession upgrade by December 2012,” Rothenberg said.

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“Accordingly, I am submitting this resignation so that the awarding of concessions contracts can proceed in as orderly and expeditious a process as possible.”

In statement, Villaraigosa said, “Although I am saddened to see (Rothenberg) resign, I understand and respect his decision.”

LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said, “It would be hard to overstate the value of Alan’s leadership. On his watch, LAWA has moved into action not seen in more than 25 years.”

“He has worked energetically with a Board of Airport Commissioners to shape, launch, build and deliver a multi-billion dollar capital improvement program,” Lindsey said. “His contribution to LAWA, Los Angeles, and a world
of travelers is, quite simply, bigger than most will be able to fully appreciate.”

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who heads the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said, “At a time that is shaping up to be the most critical juncture at LAX in a quarter century, Alan Rothenberg brought class,
professionalism and uncompromising ethics to the Board of Airport Commissioners.”

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“He is a model public servant and his leadership will be sorely missed,” Rosendahl said.

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