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Zoo brouhaha


A possible open records violation delays a change in management for the OKC Zoo Amphitheatre.

Clifton Adcock May 23rd, 2012

Concerns about a possible violation of the Oklahoma Open Records Act prompted the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust last week to table plans to sublease the Zoo Amphitheatre to the recently formed 3Horse Productions.

Howard Pollock addressed his concerns about the Zoo Amphitheatre to the OKC Zoo Trust.
Mark Hancock

Howard Pollack, president of Facilities Management Group (FMG), has managed the Amphitheatre off-andon since 1978. He blasted the proposed contract at the May 16 meeting, saying competitors were given an unfair advantage in the deal and that 3Horse Productions had taken credit for some of the concerts he had put together.

Copies of the 3Horse proposal submitted to the news media included redacted text in the company’s philosophy, references, the firm’s ability to cross-promote events, contact information, account managers, services available, areas of specialization, firm qualifications, the terms of the deal and the document’s conclusion.

The omissions might have been in violation of the Oklahoma Open Records Act, which provides exceptions only for confidential privilege or contractors’ financial information.

The zoo’s contract with FMG expires in November, and after hearing proposals from the groups, the selection committee on May 11 recommended the trust begin negotiations with 3Horse Productions.


‘Spirit of transparency’

“We recently had a records request that we feel like, in the spirit of transparency, needs to be fully complied with and have legal counsel confirm that we have complied with the request before we move forward,” said selection committee member and OKC Zoological Trust Vice President Vince White.

Dwight Scott, zoo executive director, said the request for proposals (RFP) did not include a confidentiality provision for the companies’ financial information.

“It’s something about the RFP process that we need to improve,” he said.

Assistant City Attorney Marsha Harrod said that after media outlets requested the proposals, the companies were asked to indicate information that was confidential, but that they went beyond the financials.

After Harrod reviewed the proposals, the zoo released them on May 17 with only internal financial information redacted.

The RFPs show that FMG is offering the annual rate it currently pays, $250,000, plus an additional 10 percent of gate revenue; 3Horse is offering $258,000, plus an additional $100,000 for renovations and repairs to the facility. The third group, DCF Enterprises, did not list a proposed dollar amount.


Unfair advantage?

During the meeting, Pollack told the trust that FMG has managed the Amphitheatre well for the past 10 consecutive years, turning around the struggling and run-down facility and making it a first-rate venue. The first five-year contract FMG signed in 2003 was renewed for another five years without an RFP, he said.

Pollack said his company took the contract with the assurance that the job would not be pulled later, while Scott said it is important that such contracts be brought up for review to make sure the city is getting the best deal possible.

Pollack also claimed the RFP put out had his current sublease rate as a baseline, giving his competitors an unfair advantage.

“They knew what my deal was. They knew where to start,” he told the trust. “Had they not known where to start, they may have said, ‘I’m going to offer you $50,000.’” 3Horse, which was incorporated shortly before the deadline to submit proposals, is a collaboration between two existing companies: Queen Productions (co-founded by Michelle Colbert and which has mostly worked in booking talent for tribal casinos) and Enduring Brands (an Edmond-based company that owns some Bricktown restaurants).

Colbert said Queen Productions lacked experience in the food and beverage areas, so it decided to partner with Enduring Brands, which was recommended by Remington Park officials.

Colbert said 3Horses’ proposal stands on its own merits.

“If 3Horse doesn’t win this project, we’ll look for other opportunities and projects as we believe this is a good partnership.”

 
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