Sunday, July 1, 2012

Transparency Only When I Feel Like It

Transparency in City Hall has a new meaning under this city hall administration. I suppose one could say the mayor is clever to hide behind the construction manager at risk designation for the Event Center.

The administration is not following the normal bid process because they are using the construction manager at risk process. The normal process is for the city to publicize the bids for projects. There is a deadline for submission of sealed bids. There is a bid opening and the bids are opened and publicized at the deadline.

The city can deflect the transparency issue and even state bidding laws with a straight face by stating that Mortenson Construction is awarding the bids, not the city. Deflecting who is in charge is pure doublespeak and does a disservice to the voting public. It's all about controlling the message and the information.

“The city is involved, in the room, throughout the process, but clearly they’re Mortenson’s subcontractors,” said Mark Cotter, the city’s director of public works.

It is pure rubish to say that the city is the subcontractor in the construction of the Event Center. That is like saying Morstenson Construction is the final decision maker which is as far from the truth as you can get. Can the public be that naive to swallow this line of bull?

It begs the question why this administration is so against publicizing detail information about the Event Center construction project. Oh yes, there are massive press releases coming out of the mayor's office all the time, but it is clear that it is only the information that this mayor wants to release. It is only information that makes this mayor look good. There is never any information that could be viewed as negative. It's all about controlling the news. Have you ever noticed that if a question is asked that might require the mayor to state something other than the "good news" he deflects to Cotter or Turbak?

I am not a star gazed follower of Councilor Staggers, but in this case, I have to agree with him. Why does City Hall use stonewalling tactics when asked for information? I can live with not releasing the information while the process is going on, but once it is complete, it should be public.

If the administration can't support and justify the result of their process, then the process and selection looks stinky even when it may not be stinky. The point is, who knows? The people who are paying for the Event Center have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. That's why transparency in government is paramount.

Transparency only when you feel like it is a dictatorship. It is controlling the message. It is not open government. And it is not what the mayor promised when he was elected. When one controls the message, it usually means there is something to hide. Is there?

1 comment:

  1. It's yet another aspect of this whole deal, where comparing Sioux Falls to a similar-sized city in the region, going through the same process, makes us look incredibly bad.

    Lincoln, NE is absolutely NAILING their project. Let's recap the ways that Lincoln is dominating the head-to-head match-up with us on these two arena builds...

    • They've chosen an infinitely better location within their city.
    • They've contracted a much (MUCH!) better design.
    • Their financing plan is more thought out, and simply better.
    • They'll have the proper infrastructure in place.
    • The city and business leaders of Lincoln came together and made their project happen (w/ no egos).
    • They have naming rights in place with a respected local company.
    • They've partnered with a developer to further build-out the surrounding area with retail/housing/etc so that the economic impact would be that much greater from the day the doors open.
    • They chose not to buy all-in to the false hope of the convention industry.
    • They're incorporating community gathering space into the adjacent area's design.
    • They've created a separate entity responsible for financing and general oversight (the West Haymarket Joint Public Agency).
    • ... and many more.

    In the area of transparency, Lincoln (again) is showing how this should be done, while Sioux Falls is doing the exact opposite.

    As you can see (at the links below) they release everything that goes into the project. From RFPs to the scoresheets Mortensen used to select which companies they're partnering with.

    So this proves it isn't about Mortensen not wanting to reveal how they chose contractors or because we're using a CMaR set-up (Lincoln is too). This is entirely about Sioux Falls making (yet another) bad decision.

    Should be no surprise at this point.