The bus bench story involving a disgruntled contractor and a City Council that has had it up to here was already a sordid tale (the contractor started pulling out its benches after the Council decided not to renew its contract), but apparently it gets worse. According to the City Maven, the City Council has approved a contract for a new company to handle the benches, by a vote of 11-1, but the decision was not without drama. The LA Times reported this morning that allegations of conflict of interest had arisen over the new contract--Martin Outdoor Advertising, the company the City Council approved today, has an attorney by the name of Chris Westhoff. Westhoff is a former city attorney who worked as general counsel for the Board of Public Works--the agency that oversees bus benches in the city. Councilmember Mitch Englander has stated that's a conflict of interest that should compel the city to reject the contract with Martin and continue the contract with the former contractor Norman Bench Advertising.
But wait, there is more: Englander received a total of $5,000 in campaign contributions from Norman's owner, William Giamela, and several of Giamela's family and businesses associates. Englander cast the dissenting vote today, saying he had concerns about the transition. Meanwhile, here are some of the details of the new deal: Martin Outdoor Media will install a minimum of 4,000 benches over the next decade. During that time, the city of Los Angeles will receive $2.76 million in advertising revenue. Image via Lawrence K. Ho at the LA Times
· Battle over L.A. bus bench contract gets messy [LA Times]
· Scorned Company Pulling Out All of LA's Bus Benches [Curbed LA]