On Monday night, in the face of overwhelming opposition and public outcry, Roswell City Council awarded the contract to install the artificial turf fields to the most expensive vendor. A decision that will cost the taxpayers of Roswell nearly $500,000 more than the next highest bidder. City staff provided no financial justification for recommending a vendor that will cost more but install a cheaper product.
Councilmember Betty Price was the only councilmember to oppose this decision. She waived a thick stack of e-mails in the air from dozens of RFFR supporters as evidence of public opposition to this hasty decision. She went on to state that the city had received more than three dozen e-mails urging council to postpone the vote before the meeting started and at least a dozen more since the meeting had begun.
For almost an hour, a steady stream of Roswell taxpayers approached the podium and publicly pleaded with Roswell City Council to delay the vote to award this contract until further justification for the decision could be provided. Not one single citizen spoke in favor of this incredulous act by Roswell City Council.
City Councilman Jerry Orlans, who lead the motion to approve the contract, publicly dismissed the dozens of e-mails received from RFFR supporters.
Several RFFR supporters received e-mail responses from Roswell City Council members who rejected the facts and brushed aside concerns of the public.
Make no mistake that “Dodge, Duck, Discredit” is the first line of defense for a politician when he is confronted by a citizen who is armed with the truth. So let me give you a few facts that you can use during your next encounter with these elected officials.
Facts about the Vendor Selection Process for the Artificial Turf Field
- The three proposals, rejected by Roswell city staff were almost $500,000 less than the selected vendor.
- Once selected by city staff, the recommended vendor was allowed to change the technical specifications to a cheaper product thereby reducing the cost of their proposal by approximately $200,000. Even though a cheaper product will be installed, the selected vendor will still cost the taxpayers approximately $380,000 more than the next closest bidder. The other three vendors were not allowed to submit a new bid using the less expensive product.
- According to the purchasing department, price played only a small role in the decision making process. In fact according to the scoring method, used by Roswell city staff, price constituted only 20 percent of the decision making criteria.
- The city of Roswell failed to hire a third party architect with the expertise needed to review technical specifications and proposals during the RFP process. According to testimony, city staff lacked the experience and qualifications necessary to properly evaluate the technical components of each proposal. At one point during the meeting, Finance Director Keith Lee attempted to answer questions about surface temperatures of different synthetic materials while Joe Glover, director of the Recreations & Parks department sat silently in the audience. The crowd began to chuckle at this ridiculous sight.
- According to testimony provided by city employee Jeff Pruitt, the committee chose the recommended vendor without knowing the price of the four proposals. Only after the vendor was selected did price negotiations begin. How can the city make a fiscally responsible recommendation without first knowing the price of each proposal?
RFFR is 100 percent impartial to which vendor is selected, but we are greatly concerned by the vendor selection process that we have described above.
Roswell city government dodged media inquiry and refused an interview with Channel 2 Action News.
Channel 2 Action News is just one of several media outlets who have launched independent investigations surrounding this issue. But when Mike Petchenik of Channel 2 Action News confronted Roswell city government about this gross misuse of taxpayer dollars, they refused his interview and threw him a bone instead.
Rather than face tough questions, Roswell city government hid behind the thick walls of city hall and gave Mike an old garbled audio recording from a committee meeting. If you listen closely, you will hear Finance Director Keith Lee attempt to provide a subjective and anecdotal explanation for the excessive cost of the vendor that he and his staff were recommending.
That’s when Channel 2 Action News called Roswell for Fiscal Responsibility (RFFR).
Why did Channel 2 Action News call RFFR? Because Channel 2 knows that RFFR is committed to fighting government waste and bringing truth and transparency to the voters of Roswell.
Roswell City Council has shown no limit to its appetite to over tax, over borrow and over spend. And they have provided no financial justification for accepting a proposal that will cost the tax payers of Roswell almost half a million dollars more than the next highest bidder.
You and I must stand up to this reckless spending and gross misuse of our tax dollars. We must demand answers from our elected representatives and we must hold our city government accountable.
That’s why I am asking you to contact Mayor Jere Wood firstname.lastname@example.org; and Roswell City Council email@example.com and tell them that you are angered and disappointed by their lack of transparency, their disregard for public concern, and their blatant waste of tax payer dollars.
Several media outlets have launched independent investigations surrounding this issue. A list of those sources can be found below:
Channel 2 Action News (Interview with RFFR) - "Roswell to Spend Millions on Artificial Turf in City Parks"
Roswell Patch - "Roswell OKs Artificial Turf Fields to be Installed"
Roswell Revue & News - "Roswell Parks to get Plastic Grass"
Atlanta Journal Constitution - "Roswell to Pay High Price for Turf"