Collins plans to revisit awarding of key business contract

Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins is giving it one last try.

On Aug. 13, he was outvoted 12-1 on a key business contract between Cox Nevada Telcom and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority at the latter’s board of directors meeting.

At an LVCVA meeting this morning, board member Collins plans to bring the contract up for discussion again and possible termination.

At the August meeting, Smart City Networks was replaced by Cox Nevada Telcom as the main provider of telecommunication services for the convention authority, marking the end of a 15-year partnership. The new contract begins Sept. 29 and runs through Sept. 28, 2020.

At the beginning of that meeting, Collins tried to hold the agenda item, to no avail. During the item discussion, he tried to sway the board to hold the vote for one month, again to no avail.

Smart City’s president, Mark Haley, attended the meeting with lobbyists Chris Kaempfer and former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan. They, too, urged the board to hold the vote for one month, presumably so that they could plead their case to the 14 members without an audience present.

Board member George Rapson said he didn’t want to endure a monthlong lobbying effort. Member Tom Jenkin echoed his sentiment, while member Cam Walker pointed out that Smart City came in second 15 years ago and, through a delay in voting and lobbying, was able to secure the contract.

If the contract isn’t terminated, Cox will be responsible for maintaining networks for all trade shows that use the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Cashman Center. During shows, Cox will subcontract with showNets to provide on-site services.

Although based in Arizona, showNets plans to hire 24 Las Vegas-based employees to service the convention center. Smart City has 22 employees working there.

The convention authority uses a request-for-proposal process to select its vendors, who then are graded by selection criteria: relevant experience, pricing and revenue share, infrastructure management and customer service approach. Thirteen authority staff members spent more than 500 hours reviewing three companies over 18 months. AT&T placed third.

Kaempfer’s law firm, Smart City Networks and Haley are among Collins’ long list of campaign contributors. In the past two years, Kaempfer’s firm gave $6,000 to Collins. The commissioner also received gifts from the firm in the form of show tickets valued at $273.75, noted in his 2012 annual financial disclosure. Smart City Networks gave the campaign $5,700, and Haley gave $200.

Other members of the board of directors have received contributions from Kaempfer’s firm: Lawrence Weekly got $5,000, Carolyn Goodman $2,000, Andy Hafen $5,000 and John Lee $6,750. Lee also got $2,500 from Cox Communications and $6,500 from the Committee to elect Tom Collins. Smart City Networks gave $1,000 to Weekly.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.