Dondlinger and Sons disputes bid process for $100 million airport contract

UPDATED — The scheduled start of construction on a new terminal at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport is months behind because the bid process for the contract, worth around $100 million, is in dispute.

Dondlinger and Sons is the lowest bidder, but the contract may be awarded to Key Construction instead because the city doesn’t think Dondlinger met the requirements for building the terminal.

The planned two-level, 273,000-square-foot terminal – which will feature 12 gates, each with a passenger loading bridge, more efficient passenger and baggage security screening, baggage claim and airline ticketing systems – initially was projected to be done in late 2014 or 2015. Due to the dispute, that’s likely to be pushed back.

“We’ve given the city a couple of ways to get out of this mess, and whether they’ll take it or not, we don’t know,” said Jim Armstrong, one of the Foulston Siefkin attorneys working on behalf of Dondlinger and Hunt Construction Group of Indianapolis.

That’s the team that built Intrust Bank Arena.

It bid $99,370,542 for the airport contract.

Key, in partnership with Detroit-based contractor Walbridge, bid $101,500,542.

The Wichita City Council, which will make the final decision on the contract, was updated on the dispute during an executive session Tuesday.

“This is a monstrous decision,” City Council member Pete Meitzner said. “It affects the next 50 years of the terminal and our city.”

He added: “It is a decision that I am not taking lightly. … It just needs to be fair and the right decision.”

Because the terminal will be funded in part through federal grants – airport passenger facility charges and airport revenue will make up the rest – certain requirements must be met in the bids. That includes the stipulation that either 7.11 percent of the contracting business be shared with disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE), such as minority-owned firms, or that the bidders show that they made a good-faith effort to reach that percentage.

That’s what’s at issue in the bidding process. Dondlinger has filed a bid protest, which follows an earlier review of the DBE requirement and a motion to reconsider, both requested by Dondlinger.

“We are firmly convinced that we did more than enough, and frankly that decision-making process is pretty subjective,” Armstrong said.

In response to a request for comment, city attorney Gary Rebenstorf issued a statement that said: “That protest is under review according to the City’s purchasing policy. The review process is confidential. When the review is completed, the outcome will help determine what happens next.”

No one with Key Construction is commenting, but Armstrong said that at the time of the initial bid, neither Key nor Dondlinger reached the 7.11 percent.

Armstrong said the city found that Key made a good-faith effort while Dondlinger did not.

“We don’t know how they made that determination,” Armstrong said. “From what we have been able to determine, we don’t think that’s a correct decision.”

Armstrong said when Dondlinger made its bid, two of its DBE contractors hadn’t yet been certified by the Kansas Department of Transportation, but they have now. He said that puts Dondlinger over the 7.11 percent.

“We’re just at a loss to explain why this has happened, to be honest with you,” Armstrong said, “because Dondlinger has been involved with the minority business community for years and has always actively participated.”

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Eustaquio Abay II files a lawsuit against Abay Neuroscience Center, the practice he founded and named for his parents

Eustaquio Abay II in a 2008 file photo.

UPDATED — Physician Eustaquio Abay II has filed a lawsuit against Abay Neuroscience Center, the practice he founded in 1986 and renamed in 1996 in honor of his parents.

“Dr. Abay built the practice, but the other members forced him out by reducing his compensation wrongfully,” says Abay’s attorney, Jay Fowler of Foulston Siefkin.

“The practical effect is the other physicians made a lot more money, and Dr. Abay made next to nothing.”

Abay, who filed his lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court last week, left the practice to start a new one in June.

“We did not force him out of the practice,” says Jeff Spahn, a Martin Pringle attorney representing the remaining partners at Abay Neuroscience Center.

“That was his decision to leave the practice.”

Spahn says Abay was paid what he was owed.

“I don’t know what Jay’s definition of nothing is, but he was paid a significant amount of money, and Jay knows better than that,” Spahn says. “At least I would regard it as a significant amount of money.”

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IMA Financial Group sues former president of its Kansas City and Topeka offices and Lockton Inc. over breach of contract

WICHITA — IMA Financial Group has filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court against Douglas Anderson, former president of IMA’s Kansas City and Topeka offices, and his new company, Lockton Inc.

Anderson didn’t return a call for comment, but the lawsuit states he worked for Lockton years ago then went to another company and then to IMA in late 2006.

According to the lawsuit, in late 2009, Anderson signed a confidentiality agreement that included a two-year nonsolicitation clause.

“About one year after entering into the Agreement, Anderson began to orchestrate a scheme to resign from IMA, join Lockton, and solicit IMA’s clients to Lockton,” the suit says.

The suit further says that since Anderson left in January, at least two IMA clients canceled relationships with the company to follow Anderson to Lockton.

Earlier this month, Have You Heard? reported that the International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association is ending its 18-year relationship with IMA.

It’s not clear if that is one of the relationships the suit refers to.

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Bank of America Center renovates almost 17,000 square feet

WICHITA — Certain areas of the Bank of America Center at Douglas and Broadway — including one area that’s been vacant for more than 15 years — are getting a makeover in preparation for new tenants.

“I’m gutting . . . the lower level of the lobby floor and making all those offices,” says Chris Ruffin, director of real estate for his father Phil Ruffin’s Ruffin Properties.

Phil Ruffin owns the Bank of America Center.

Chris Ruffin says the 9,000 square feet on the lower level hasn’t been occupied for years.

“We’re redoing the whole space because it’s just not leasable the way it is,” he says. It “is going to be a great space when I’m done with it.”

He’s adding high-end lighting, new carpeting and building new walls.

“I need to brighten it up down there,” Ruffin says. “I need to make it presentable and move-in ready.”

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Cox Communications Kansas sues User-Friendly Phone Book over incorrectly publishing phone numbers and addresses

WICHITA — Cox Communications Kansas has filed a lawsuit against User-Friendly Phone Book in Sedgwick County District Court.

Cox spokeswoman Sarah Kauffman says the basis of the suit goes back to 2008 when User-Friendly published the addresses and phone numbers of customers who didn’t want them listed.

“At the time, we made attempts asking User-Friendly . . . to take action to remedy the mistakes that they made,” Kauffman says. “We did not get a response from them at that time.”

She says many of the numbers and addresses — Kauffman isn’t sure how many — were incorrectly published again this year.

In a letter dated July 22, 2009, Cox (through Foulston Siefkin attorney Jay Fowler) told User-Friendly: “This conduct is inexcusable.”

Cox demanded User-Friendly stop delivering its phone books, recall any distributed copies and fix the situation.

Kauffman says that hasn’t happened.

“We’re really hoping that they will correct the situation,” she says.

That’s the point of the lawsuit, Kauffman says.

Heather Burrer, general counsel for Woodlands, Texas-based User-Friendly, says, “Right now we do not comment on any pending litigation.”

You don’t say

“How can this be? How will I survive? Is it true?”
— Lawrence resident Brad Serafine, who is joining Foulston Siefkin this summer and wants to know if it’s true that Wichita doesn’t have a Costco (it, of course, is true)