KANSAS CITY, Missouri (September 6, 2017) — After discovering over the weekend that the City’s outside legal consultant had previously served as legal counsel for one of the four airport proposers on a recent private financing proposal for the University of Kansas, the Burns & McDonnell KCI HOMETOWN Team is proposing a solution to the City — hire an independent auditor to guide the remainder of the selection process.
“The optics on this look terrible,” says Ron Coker, senior vice president, Burns & McDonnell. “The City hired Charles Renner and his team through a no-bid contract apparently knowing that Mr. Renner had supported Edgemoor on a similar and ongoing private financing proposal for the University of Kansas.”
Coker says at the time, Edgemoor was not part of the process and there probably was not a conflict. When Edgemoor entered the picture as a potential proposer on the airport, however, Coker says the City should have informed proposers and Mr. Renner should have backed himself out of the process. This is only one of the conflicts Mr. Renner and his team may have with being an integral part of the selection process.
“No one wants to build a new airport in Kansas City more than Burns & McDonnell and our KCI HOMETOWN Team,” says Coker. “On Friday, we were humbled to receive the recommendation of the airline committee. Having that kind of support from a group that deals with these projects across the country was humbling. However, even that great recommendation pales to the amount of support we have received from the community through this process. We don’t want that support to be wasted through a legal challenge related to the selection process.”
Coker says the team understands the City does not want to restart the selection process, however, no one knows how much of a role Mr. Renner and his team have played in shaping the opinion of the selection committee. If the City is unwilling to restart the selection process, the KCI HOMETOWN Team is then recommending the City hire an independent auditor to step into the process and guide it to completion.
“Let’s have someone with no conflicts or relationships step into this process,” says Coker. “Make sure all proposers and proposals are eligible for consideration by the selection committee and return the power of the selection to the City. This could be accomplished in a few weeks and could help restore the public’s faith that all proposals are receiving fair and equal treatment. There is still an opportunity to do what is right for Kansas City and provide a process that is fair and transparent.”
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