The Oklahoma City Zoological Trust on Wednesday delayed a vote on whether to negotiate a contract with a contested amphitheater operator amid claims the selection process was tainted and questions about compliance with the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
For the past decade the Zoo Amphitheater has been operated by the Facility Management Group led by Howard Pollock. A selection committee led by Dwight Scott recommended to trustees that they authorize contract negotiation with a competitor, 3 Horse Productions, a company formed May 3 — just weeks after the request for proposal (RFP) was issued and a day before the response deadline.
Pollock angrily claimed, both before and during Wednesday's trust meeting, that Scott gave competitors a copy of his last contract while allowing all the respondents a chance to ask the director to seal portions of their proposals from public scrutiny.
“From the suspicious timing of the RFP, through a pattern of behavior by Zoo director Dwight Scott, to oddly formed questions on the RFP, to the public release of my current contract, to the final selection process, I think there is enough there that doesn't pass the smell test to the Oklahoma City taxpayer,” Pollack said. “My group has been putting on world class shows at the zoo for a very long time and has paid the zoo trust every dime owed them in a timely manner.”
Scott said the decision to seek new proposals at the end of Pollock's contract was based on interest in ensuring the zoo was getting the best possible deal. Scott noted Pollock's company is currently paying $250,000 to the zoo trust in exchange for rights to operate the amphitheater.
“It's been a challenge to measure the impact of the zoo amphitheater overall,” Scott said. “And that's one reason we need to fairly seek out a fair and competitive process in selecting an operator.”