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Zoo Amp battle amplified


Tempers and accusations fly over a proposed change of operation for the Zoo Amphitheatre.

Clifton Adcock June 21st, 2012

The Oklahoma City Zoological Trust voted yesterday to delay deciding whether to negotiate a contract with a new group to operate the OKC Zoo Amphitheatre amid threats of litigation from the current operator, Howard Pollack.

jerry+foshee+zoo+trust+meet+web+20mhJerry Foshee - Credit: Mark Hancock

At the meeting, which was packed with dozens of Pollack’s workers and supporters, the trust — which oversees the zoo’s management and operation — voted unanimously to delay authorizing the zoo’s executive director, Dwight Scott, to negotiate a contract with a newly formed company, 3Horse Productions, to operate the facility.

For the past 10 years, the amphitheater has been operated by Facilities Management Group (FMG), headed by Pollack.

Pollack has said that when the Zoological Trust issued a request for proposals, it included his contract as a sort of benchmark, thereby giving other competing proposals an unfair advantage. Pollack has alleged that the trust wanted to contract with 3Horse from the beginning, adding that trust officials had not reviewed references in the proposals and that 3Horse was even taking credit for some entertainment shows that FMG actually had booked.

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 LLC (an Edmond-based company with experience in restaurant and hospitality services).

Colbert said Queen Productions lacked experience in the food and beverage area, so it decided to partner with Enduring Brands for the Zoo Amp venture.

Pollack said his concern isn’t that the zoo trust opened the Zoo Amp contract for bidding, but that it came so early in the year — FMG’s contract expires in December — as the concert season was set to begin. Such timing, he said, has hurt his business because of the lack of confidence it creates.

Negotiating a contract with 3Horse was first considered at the trust’s May 16 meeting. The item was tabled at that time amid suggestions that the trust had violated Oklahoma’s Open Records law by allowing 3Horse to redact large swaths of its submitted proposal before releasing it to the public.

At Wednesday’s meeting, four attorneys working for FMG told trust members that Pollack had been denied due process and that the selection process was corrupt.

Howard Pollack
Credit: Mark Hancock

Attorney Jerry Foshee, a former city council member, called the situation “bizarre” and “crazy,” accusing the trust of harming Pollack’s current business, and charging 3Horse of being a front group for Global Gaming, the Chickasaw Nation business that operates Remington Park.

Moreover, Foshee said trust members had violated the spirit of the Open Meetings Act by conferring with one another on the issue via email.

The Zoological Trust met in executive session for about 30 minutes before deciding to table the item until a special meeting in July.

 
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