St. Louis Lambert International Airport | By Matthew Hurst - Flickr: Main Terminal, Lambert, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15006391
The St. Louis Lambert International Airport Commission recently voted to award a three-year cleaning contract worth $14.74 million to United Maintenance Co., a Chicago firm that was disqualified due to concerns over its president’s alleged ties to organized crime.
In January, United Maintenance submitted the lowest bid at $12.28 million — nearly $500,000 less than the next-lowest bidder. The contract has since increased in value because of an increased scope, as Southwest Airlines is opening new gates that also require cleaning. The panel voted 10-3 in favor of the United Maintenance bid. St. Louis' primary fiscal body, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, will make the ultimate decision.
The company was initially disqualified after a report from the Chicago Sun-Times and the watchdog group Better Government Association alleged that United Maintenance President Richard Simon had personal and business ties to reputed mob figures. The allegations were raised in connection to the company’s contract with Rivers Casino, in the Chicago area, though the company also holds contracts with O’Hare International Airport.
Lambert officials have since been persuaded by materials submitted by United Maintenance and reports from several law enforcement agencies that no evidence supported rejecting its bid. Further, the airport received multiple endorsements from the company’s clients as to the quality of its work.