(CSULA-UT) A 10 year contract for the installation of up to 6,000 bus benches was approved on August 19, 2011 by the Los Angeles City Council. The new vendor Martin Outdoor Media replaced Norman Bench in an 11-1 vote. This contract will override a last minute proposal designed to protect the existing contractor from having to pay the city any outstanding debts. Councilman Mitch Englander, who received $5,000 in campaign contributions in October from individuals affiliated with Norman Bench, and Councilman Dennis Zine, submitted an amending proposal that would have blocked Norman Bench from making new payments to the city, even if public works officials concluded that the company had failed to turn over a share of its advertising revenue from signs on i bus benches.
Accusations have been made towards Norman Bench, for failing to disclose how much money they had collected from advertisements by Public Works officials. Several council members were appalled because the city failed to ask Norman Bench for its financial information until February 2010.The president of the Board of Public Works, Andrea Alarcon, told the council that Norman Bench could owe as much as $1 million. Her father, councilman Richard Alarcon, goes on to say it would be irresponsible for the city to forfeit its ability to collect on unpaid bills from Norman Bench or anyone else. Chairman of the Westwood Community Council, Steve Sann, said the Englander-Zine proposal was similarly troubling, “ To relieve a company of potential debt without knowing how much they owe you seems to be an outrageous idea, and a majority of the council agreed.”Norman Bench’s attorney Ben Reznik says his client is still considering a lawsuit alleging a conflict of interest in the bidding process. “If the city is uncooperative in this transition phase, then I expect those benches will come out earlier, said Reznik.”
.The August 19, 2011, vote will not be the end to the bench debat.
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