After Kansas City’s airport selection committee named Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate its choice to build a new terminal at KCI, the hometown folks at Burns & McDonnell have to be asking themselves why they ever got involved in this mess in the first place.
A mess it has been. Two days ago, Burns & Mac asked the city to scrap the bid process and start over after learning that an attorney involved in the KCI selection process had a seeming conflict of interest given his representation of Edgemoor on other projects.
A week earlier, Mayor Sly James accused an aide of City Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, Le’Shyeka Roland by name, with having a “rather close conversation” at a city council meeting with a representative from the KCI Partnership. Said James, “No matter how you slice it, looks pretty bad, in my opinion.”
Days before that KCI selection committee member and prime mover, City Councilwoman Jolie Justus, was hit with an ethics complaint on a conflict of interest charge given her firm’s past representation of Burns & Mac.
What must truly sting is that it was Burns & Mac that got the whole process revived in May of this year when it proposed to privately finance a new terminal. “The beauty is Burns and Mac comes in and says the private sector will build this facility for the same public sector price, and we’ll deliver it cheaper and we’ll deliver it faster,” said City Manager Troy Schulte at the time.
To seal the deal, or so it seemed, a “consortium of airliners” appeared last Friday to endorse Burns & Mac’s bid. “We are a strong supporter of the Kansas City community and our preference would be to stay local and work with KCI Hometown team,” said the consortium in a press release.
In the end, all this maneuvering seems to have come to naught. “We’re heartbroken with respect to this decision, but we couldn’t be more proud of our partners that they committed to our team, and we couldn’t be more proud of Kansas City for all of the support that they showed us,” a Burns & Mac spokesman told Fox4KC.
Burns & Mac has a reason to be diplomatic. The City Council still has to approve the recommendation of the selection committee. If the Council does approve, which seems likely, expect a different reaction from Burns & Mac.
The citizens of Kansas City still have to approve a new terminal idea that most instinctively reject. If Burns & Mac is sitting on the sidelines or booing from the stands, the citizens will have a better chance of winning in November.