This statement was released by Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook after Atlanta City Council approved new concession contracts for Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

By Howard Shook

After an intensive nine-hour public grilling of city officials, I joined a 12-3 council majority in support of the proposed airport vending contracts. The scrutiny was warranted, given the dollars involved, the campaign contributions made to the mayor by various venders, and well-remembered corruption that occurred during the 1990s.

History and insinuations aside, no one has alleged any specific wrongdoing. Questions asked by skeptical council members produced no smoking guns.

John Miller, a principal author of the highly-respected “The Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments,” testified that he had conducted an independent audit of the process and found it well-constructed and executed without any indications of malfeasance.

I certainly can’t blame Atlantans for being wary regarding airport procurements, but I don’t have the luxury of accepting cynicism as a substitute for evidence, especially when thwarting the contract awards without any legal basis would create several important problems, including:

• The sooner the mayor signs the award legislation, the sooner injured bidders can avail themselves of their right to appeal;

• I don’t believe politicians lacking any facts to do so should in effect usurp the authority properly owned by the appeals process;

• A delay could push back the opening of the new terminal, which could deprive the airport of millions needed in part to pay off the bonds that funded the project;

• The contracts of existing vendors would go on even though expired—a situation that a former mayor was rightly condemned for.

As the only member of council who voted against the infamous Airport Indoor Advertising contract, I have no problems voting “no” on a bad deal.

All I need is some evidence.

Howard Shook represents Buckhead’s District 7 on the Atlanta City Council.

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