Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Council tables vote to award $280,000 no-bid contract

At last night's council meeting, Councilperson Gumbleton motioned the agenda item that would award a $280,000 contract to Plante Moran CRESA without bidding be tabled until the next regularly scheduled council meeting.

I agree that some must-bid requirements are ridiculous. The costs for creating, publishing, and reviewing bids can often exceed either the amount of the service or item being bid-for or the potential savings between the high and low bidders.

But in this case, $280,000 (the projected upper limit) is a lot of money and there is little risk a proper request for proposal (RFP) would exceed either the potential savings or the value of the service.

There are many things we may share with Detroit, Eight Mile among them. But awarding no-bid contracts without considering alternatives or entertaining competitive bid process risks Ferndale sharing more with Detroit--like its council's ineptitude and corruption--than we'd like.

Imagine our own Kwame Galloway or Jakie do-you-know-who-I-am? Baker turning a reputable firm like Plante Moran CRESA into a Bobby-Ferguson-like subsidiary. Or relying on wink-and-grin agreements and ignoring the appearance of impropriety. It is also worth mentioning that Detroit's city council suffers little inconvenience to responsibly guard and spend its citizens' money--hiring unqualified relatives and granting undeserved raises to favorites at taxpayer expense and deteriorating service to residents and businesses.

To Plante Moran's misfortune, the city manager's premature solicitation of the management contract means all competitive bidders know the scope and cost of Plante's bid and are certain to under-bid it or provide more services and improved terms. Regardless, Plante Moran isn't new to municipal contracts, bidding, politics, and the risk that no-bid contracts may raise citizen ire.

The subject should appear on council's January 26th agenda. I encourage everyone concerned with responsible government and opposed to our council following Detroit's example attend the meeting. All council meetings start at 7:30 at City Hall.

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