KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ahead of next week’s full City Council vote to either accept or deny Vantage Airport Group’s contract proposal, more questions and red flags continue to raise doubt on whether the Group should receive the contract.
In recent weeks, the bidding process for the new concessions contract has come under fire after a special selection committee recommended Vantage’s proposal to the City Council. The Group hired a local public relations firm, Parson & Associates, to help facilitate the process, but the founder and CEO of the firm, Jason Parson, has a past business connection and close personal relationship with Councilman Dan Fowler, the lone councilmember on the special selection committee.
These revelations had many wondering if there was an unethical backroom deal between Fowler and Parson in order to award Vantage the contract recommendation of the selection committee.
However, that was only the beginning of doubt and criticism cast upon the contract proposal, as past issues with multiple parties involved have recently been disclosed.
If the council votes to award them the contract, RMD Holdings LLC is one of the groups that Vantage plans to bring in to help operate concessions within the terminal. Notably, public records revealed that RMD and Managing Partner Charles Hopkins have been sued by Capital One, American Express and LAZ Parking California.
American Express sued Hopkins and RMD Holdings LLC in 2009 for defaulting on money owed. The very next year, Capital One sued Hopkins personally for a breach of contract and he was ordered to pay $73,556.29. RMD also has an ongoing lawsuit against them for breach of contract by LAZ Parking California.
Additionally, OHM Concession Group was another entity that Vantage planned to bring in to help with concession operations, and it has some skeletons in the closet as well. Tom Tyra, spokesperson for the airport, told the Kansas City Star that OHM managed five restaurants at the considerably smaller Greenville-Spartanburg Airport in South Carolina from January 2016 to July 2020.
However, the company struggled to meet their commitments and were failing to adequately run the restaurants. As a result, the airport commission decided that OHM had to be replaced with another concessions group or the airport had to negotiate a buyout of their contract. By May 2020, OHM was bought out of their contract and airport commissioners unanimously voted to terminate their agreement with the concessions group.
With the final vote on Vantage Airport Group’s proposal planned for next week, the City Council and the special selection committee should expect more pressure on their controversial recommendation as more information continues to be uncovered.