Monday, August 25, 2008

... and We're Not Going to Take It Anymore

Not known for saving taxpayer dollars, even the United States Congress realizes that the self-dealing and no-bid contracts to Halliburton, WorldCom, and Bechtel that bled the budget in the Iraq occupation and the shameful rush to profit from Hurricane Katrina must be stopped. The “Clean Contracting Act” has been introduced in both houses to stem the abuses of no-bid contracts. It appears that Fayetteville needs something like that, unless we want more of the same and more hollow excuses that it is easier and quicker if the city does not take competitive bids.

On the City Council Agenda for Tuesday, September 2, are two no-bid contracts. Under "new business" is a $20,000 no-bid contract to
Cloud Gehshan Associates, a Philadelphia consulting company, to do a study of "signage and wayfinding." Maybe the City really needs a study of signage and wayfinding, I don't know, but it sounds like something that our own outstanding UA Community Design Center might at least be allowed to bid on before tossing $20,000 of our tax dollars to some out-of-state consultants.

Then that old bad penny is back again. The
Boardwalk Property Owners Association still wants an ordinance waiving the requirements of formal competitive bidding and approving a cost-share with the Boardwalk Property Owners Association (POA) in an amount not to exceed $69,674.00 to dredge the Boardwalk POA Private Lake. There are serious questions as to whether the City can spend tax dollars to do work on private property, but that hasn't stopped Aldermen Adella Gray and Brenda Thiel from trying to help out their wealthy neighbors in an upscale development. Would that they had as much concern for their constituents who live south of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and don't have sidewalks.

No one has yet mentioned that a city administrative employee is a member of the Boardwalk POA and among the potential beneficiaries. They have been trying to slip this one by us for more than a year now, and they will not give up. It is time that the City Council took a silver stake to this monster, then they should have the City Attorney prepare an ordinance setting out the legal and ethical requirements for executing city contracts. It is obvious that the current administration of the bidding process is subject to abuse. Until then, if the elite get their private lake dredged, I'd like the city to come mow my lawn and wash my pickup about once a week.

I wish someone had the time to total up how much tax money has been spent in the last eight years on No-Bid Contracts and Out-of-State Consultants. I will acknowledge that the current administration needs consultants to tell them what to think, but they could put those contracts out for bid, and they could let local businesses bid on them. There are some smart people in this town, and we should draw on their expertise instead of ignoring and insulting them.

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