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HAPEVILLE | Airport concessions contracts spark controversy | Business

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HAPEVILLE | Airport concessions contracts spark controversy

ATLANTA - On Jan. 3, Atlanta's City Council will decide who's in and who's out at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The Council has been given a list of 150 new food and retail vendors to go into Hartsfield-Jackson, but some are crying foul.

It's a $3 billion deal to hand out 10-year leasing contracts with more than 100 proposals received.

"We loved the concept that wanted to bring the best of Atlanta local best of Atlanta in the airport,"said the owner of Co'm Dunwoody Vietnamese Grill. That's why his family restaurant bid on the airport contract.  But they were shut out.

Co'm Dunwoody is Zagat-rated and was readers choice in Creative Loafing.

"I have no clue how they select the restaurant," the owner said. He received nothing more than an email with no reasons given.

And that's been the problem. William Perry of Common Cause Georgia told us there are others who are upset about the selection process.

"There's so many concerns being raised by vendors who lost out in the process that it's not seeming like it's a sore loser issue," he said. "The city council is rushing to judgment on a $3 billion decision in just three business days." 

Common Cause Georgia aims to bring about more openness in government, and Perry's group fears a repeat of the past: favoritism and secrecy over how the airport contracts are awarded.

"I have not seen that at all. I have not seen anybody trying to influence the decisions were making in the department of aviation. The Mayor has not gotten involved, no council member has gotten involved,"said Louis Miller, the new man in charge at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Miller has been on the job as Aviation General Manager for 15 months. He has worked at both Tampa and Salt Lake City airports and he says the selection process at Hartsfield-Jackson has been both open and fair.

"The 15 members who we selected for the selection committee, with five on each committee, spent over 2,000 hours they devoted just to this evaluation process," Milller said.

Miller fears any delays in awarding the new vendor contracts will slow down the opening of the new international terminal and cost the airport more than $5 million a month in lost revenue.

Perry's group has provided no evidence of any wrongdoing or favoritism and Miller doesn't expect to see any.

"Would it surprise you?" 11Alive's Ross McLaughlin asked.

"It would really surprise me that could have happened based on our recommendation on what we have done," Miller said.

We asked for a comment from Mayor Kasim Reed but received none.

Click here to see a complete list of recommended vendors sent to City Council.

Click here to see some of the criteria in selecting vendors.