Open letter regarding closed process for hiring consultant B. L. Harbert, March 19, 2017

Council president Bruce Limbaugh, center, with Ward 4 councilmember Barry Smith, during one of two public forums about the $110 million bond issue. The matter is being handled by a “task force” of city officials, and closed to the public.

The full council is voting TOMORROW/MONDAY, March 20th on who will project manage the $110 bond money without the usual procedure of taking it through the Finance committee or having a public hearing. I ask that you take a minute to read the following and then forward to your council person– should you be concerned. The Task Force is recommending Harbert as PM for all of the projects, this is also the company who did the “free study” (which was a seriously detailed 20+ slide PPT analyzing the schools and parks current situation and also against the law to provide free services to a government entity) last year. Your council people are listed at the bottom and forward to friends who also might be concerned how the city is doing business.

Highlights:

  • The task force was put together without a consensus of the entire council and did not have any new council people included.
  • Information on all 5 bids was not given to all council members.
  • The public was unable to see the bids or hear the Q&A between the task force and the bidding companies (The public, including another council person was asked to leave during that portion of each presentation).
  • Normal RFP and bidding procedures were not followed – 1 example: Bidding company usually presents to the entire voting body.

How can the rest of the council people vote when not given all the information??

To My Homewood City Council Representative,

We are requesting from you, council representatives, to reject the motion to accept the recommendation of the task force to name the project manager for the $110M Bond expenditure at the March 20, 2017, City Council Meeting. We understand the time sensitivity of the expenditure, especially for the Parks and Recreations Board, but feel that you need ample time to understand the rationale of the Task Force’s recommendation. We have requested from the Task Force Chairman to supply all of you with the proposals of the three main bidders – Harbert, HPM, and Robins and Morton. The Task Force based their recommendation on compatibility, finance, and track record. Of the members present, they voted unanimously to recommend Harbert.

Harbert definitely had the advantage of compatibility and track record with the City of Homewood. The free study that was performed by Harbert was not a comprehensive study and it violated state laws regarding providing free services when pursuing business from a government entity.

The questions that we wish for you to consider after your study of the proposals forwarded to you by Task Force Chairman, Bruce Limbaugh, are the following:

Were recommendations sought out from other school systems in the state which have had similar projects?
What references have been performed on all three proposals?
Did all proposals include a shared savings component?
How do you define track record? If it is defined as a relationship with the City of Homewood, how could HPM and Robins and Morton compete?
Did the proposals include a conflict of interest?

The $110M bond is of utmost interest to the Homewood Community and you, the representatives, need to intimately know and understand the proposals from the top three bidders. We are asking you to fully vet the Task Force recommendation and not blindly vote on the motion to vote for the mayor to precede with contracts on Monday night We kindly request that you table the vote on March 20 in order to perform your fiduciary duty to the citizens of Homewood to ensure the most wise investment of this massive amount of our money occurs.

A called City Council Meeting on the vote on the Task Force recommendation after fully investigated would be the wise and prudent course of action. I do not know how you would back a vote to which you do not have all of the information.

Concerned Homewood Citizens for Transparency

 

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