After a prolonged selection process, the Kansas City Council voted overwhelmingly, 10-2 Thursday, to embrace Maryland-based Edgemoor as its developer for a proposed single terminal project at Kansas City International Airport (KCI).
The vote was 10-2 among council members, despite efforts from state lawmakers earlier in the week to influence their decision.
A bipartisan group of three Republicans and three Democrats, in a letter and through other measures, tried to persuade the council to examine all four proposals that were submitted for the project instead of allowing a special committee to make the choice, which was for Edgemoor.
All six lawmakers had criticized the six-member KCI Selection Committee’s selection process.
House Democrat Gregg Razer’s 25th district includes local firm Burns & McDonnell, who’s plan was rejected. “I would just like to see that the full council has the full slate of applicants, or presenters, Burns and McDonnell being one of them,” says Razer.
Senate Republican Ryan Silvey has looked at the Kansas City code, and notes a distinction that’s often made at the state level – the difference between “shall” and “may”.
“Section 3-31(c)(2) of KC Ordinance says that all submissions ‘shall be ranked,’” said Silvey, the 17th District Senator. “One of the first things you learn when dealing with the law is that ‘shall’ is absolute. Based on what I have read, it appears the process did not follow the procurement laws in place for the city or the State of Missouri, as neither has an option of ‘disqualification,’ or ‘fail to advance.’”
Burns & McDonnell made its own pitch at a news conference earlier this week, where one of the firm’s vice presidents called for the proposals of all four firms vying for the roughly $1 billion contract to be advanced so that the full City Council can make a decision.
Representative Razer points to a study Burns & McDonnell provided him with as proof the KCI Selection Committee made a mistake in offering one choice. “When I looked over the legal analysis that they provided, it did appear that the committee did not have the legal authority to not allow Burns and McDonnell to go before the full city council.”
Republican House Majority Floor Leader Mike Cierpiot represents the 30th District, which includes some eastern suburbs of Kansas City. He’s less bullish on the KCI project overall than the other lawmakers, but is even more skeptical of the way the selection went.
“While I am not fully convinced we need a new airport, if one is to be put before voters it should be a plan that uses the world class local talent we have right in our own backyard,” says Cierpoit. “It is further troubling to read the opinions presented by the top legal minds in Missouri who say the process violates city and state laws, as well as the Constitution of Missouri.”
Cierpoit’s Democratic counterpart in Jefferson City, House Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty of the 36th District, questions the grounds of the selection process as it stands. “(The) legal opinions certainly beg the question about whether or not this process followed the laws of Kansas City and the State of Missouri,” McCann Beatty says.
House Democrat DaRon McGee of the 36th District in South Kansas City has concluded the selection committee erred.
“I have studied the city ordinances governing a qualifications based selection process, and it is clear to me that the city selection committee violated these ordinances and its own request for qualifications by not ranking the qualifications of all four groups of proposers as required” McGee says.
The city council was unswayed by the the efforts of the state lawmakers.
With the selection of Edgemoor now in place, voters will go to the polls November 7th to decide whether or not the airport terminal is actually built.