Whittier Daily News
Our View: Wireless contract at LAX circumvented local businesses
SOME of us not much in the jet set these days sometimes wonder why Los Angeles International Airport is perennially ranked by frequent travelers as among the most dismal of the major airports in the world.
It is not a garden spot, perhaps. But is it really so much worse than airports around the world? They all seem pretty much the same: Crowded. Noisy. Crazy. The souring experience of paying way too much money for indifferent food. Hours-long security lines snaking through the terminals. A shuffling, shoes-off experience ruled by the new uniformed class of commissars: the TSA inspectors. (We realize that our safety, our very lives, are what they are protecting, and that they are just following orders, but that doesn't make the absurd grandma pat-downs any more pleasant.)
And LAX does have that fantastic space-age Theme Building at its heart, one of the most iconic pieces of dreamy architecture in all of Southern California.
Sure, compared with our relatively easy suburban airports in Burbank and Ontario, LAX is a logistical nightmare. And, speaking of which, there is the undeniable fact that the airport authority ought to relinquish control over the Ontario airport immediately so that the Inland Empire hub can control its own destiny. Still, for some travel, we'll sometimes willingly suffer through LAX.
But the news this week that Los Angeles airport officials can't make the experience just a little bit better by offering free wireless Internet service, as other major airports do, is galling. So is the way in which the decision was reached. Our South Bay sister paper the Daily Breeze wrote: "Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino asked his colleagues to probe the circumstances surrounding the deal because airport officials selected Advanced Wireless Group as part of a sole-source contracting process, meaning the work could not be completed by anyone else. In doing so, airport officials circumvented a competitive bidding process that shut out local businesses such as Los Angeles-based Boingo Wireless, which provides Wi-Fi service to 55 airports in North America."
That sounds on the surface like a reasonable criticism of the process. But, probing a bit deeper, LA Observed blogger Kevin Roderick posits: "Now, it seems very possible that the real issue here is that the council wasn't consulted, and thus Advanced Wireless Group and its representatives were not afforded the opportunity to make the relevant campaign contributions."
That's the problem with our money-driven politics - there are constituents, and then there are constituents with cash, and then there is right and wrong. Who, and which, do you imagine end up winning when politicians make the decisions?