Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Airport Telephone Deal Questioned Commissioner: Merger Unexplained

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Airport Telephone Deal Questioned Commissioner: Merger Unexplained

Article excerpt

Airport commissioner Kenneth Behlmann on Thursday questioned the awarding of a Lambert Field telephone contract earlier this week.

The contract calls for AT&T and North American Communications Corp. of Kansas City to provide long-distance service and operate coinless pay telephones at Lambert.

Behlmann said that he did not know the two companies were joining forces until he attended the Airport Commission meeting Wednesday at which the deal was approved.

"And I assumed that the airport staff had examined the proposal," Behlmann said. "But it sounds a bit like AT&T is doing all the work and paying all the bills."

Before voting Wednesday, commission members were given a two-page summary report - which did not list any of the problems with North American that city officials had found.

North American, a minority-owned company, will get 82 coinless telephones free of charge from AT&T, which will pay an annual fee to North American for installing AT&T phones, according to a letter from AT&T to North American. North American will not be responsible for paying any commissions to Lambert.

North American stands to make about $1 million a year, airport officials said. AT&T previously held the contract alone.

Behlmann said the airport staff should have checked to see that North American was in good standing with the Missouri Secretary of State's office. The company has been listed as dissolved since Sept. 2 because it failed to submit its annual corporate filings.

North American officials said that oversight was being corrected.

"I think a better job of explaining this merger should have been done," Behlmann said. "I think it's great that we have the minority participation. But what seemed to be a very good merger starts to sound a little less so."

Meanwhile Thursday, commissioner Thomas Mangogna complimented AT&T for joining forces with a minority company. He added, however, that the first he knew of the company's problem with its corporate filings was after the meeting. …

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