Gina Marie Lindsey, the former Seattle-Tacoma International Airport aviation director and key figure in the controversial $3 billion third runway and airport renovation project, is on the hot seat in LA this week: Director of LAX for the past year, she'll be asked to explain why she awarded lucrative airport contracts to two of her former companies.
Lindsey has been dogged by accusations that she manipulated the contracting process in order to hire two companies that she previously worked with -- DMJM Aviation Inc. of Florida, and Fentress Architects of Denver. The companies were awarded project management and architecture contracts worth almost $67 million, although other companies were initially preferred during the selection process.
Airport sources, who asked that they not be identified for fear of retribution, said that Lindsey took the unusual step of seeking a second evaluation panel in both cases after the first panels recommended other companies. Lindsey has denied this.
LAX is undergoing a potential $8-billion re-working which could include a midfield concourse and renovations to its main terminal -- the largest capital-improvement program in LA history. Since her appointment by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last May, Lindsey, 55, who left her SeaTac job in 2004, has been lauded for reversing a decline in international flights. But, reports the Times, she has made enemies with her plan to take LAX to another level:
Airport officials, who requested anonymity, say that Lindsey has ignored veteran staff members who are more knowledgeable about local airport operations than the new hires. The officials complain that Lindsey has brought in people she worked with in Seattle, including Amy Shaw, who runs the concessions department, and Jeff Fitch, who oversees security at LAX, Van Nuys, Palmdale and Ontario airports...
"Bringing in new people will help get us going," Lindsey said. "We don't have a lot of time to do this. Other airports are way ahead of us. We need an infusion of energy to turn LAX around. We need people who are very good."