Friday, August 08, 2008

How Bad Can It Get? . . .

Losses at Griffiss are currently $2 million/year as opposed to $300K-500K at the old airport. How bad can it get? After listening Wednesday to Mr. Joseph's responses to Mr. Hennessey's concerns over the proposed contract with Freeman Holdings on WIBX' "First Look," I think we're being led to a mid-air collision. A video of the entire discussion is posted on CNY Listen to it yourself and see if it makes you uneasy too.

Here are the "high" points I came away with [times approximate]:

The County's bidding process is a sham.

Our airport commissioner contacted the same firms that he contacted when he was commissioner in Plattsburg, and produced the same results: one bid [8:00]. Mr. Joseph interviewed a prospect in Syracuse, who did not submit a bid. Meanwhile the County advertised its RFP in only one trade publication on Feb 8th, and set a deadline for inquiries on February 10th [9:00]. One proposal was received in response to the RFP.

It's obvious that personal connections were counted upon to secure the vendor rather than the bidding process. Calling for inquiries within 2 days of RFP publication strongly suggests that the County already found a vendor ... that no one else need apply ... that the publication was only to make things "legal." This style of solicitation makes it appear that you have to know someone if you want to do business in Oneida County. Could that explain why so many stay away?

The County does not know its competition, and sees no need to know.

The discussion reveals that Oneida County hopes to attract business from Bangor International in Maine, but the administration never bothered to find out what Bangor had to offer. [10:00-12:00] Joseph said that Bangor had no bearing on what happens here. When it became obvious that Joseph et al had not done their homework, he called Hennessey naive [17:00].

The County sees no need for a "security deposit" or escape clauses in the contract, preferring, instead, to trust the parties involved.

Mr. Hennessy noted that Freeman Holdings walked away from its contract in Plattsburgh [12:00], and felt this indicated the need for a "security deposit" and an asset inventory list to protect taxpayers in the event the same thing happened here.

Mr. Joseph responded by marginalizing/attacking Hennessey:
  • Joseph implied that Hennessey was besmirching Freeman, and defended "Chris" Freeman's position in the Plattsburgh dispute. Joseph alleged that a "handshake" deal was broken by Plattsburgh [14:30].
  • Joseph implied that Hennessey's request for a security deposit was unusual: "In economic development, it's never been produced or asked for." [25:20]
  • Joseph implied that Hennessy does not know what he is talking about because he was not part of "the team": "When you are not part of the team that's putting together any of the contract, its easy to pick apart a lot of things . . ." [31:45]
Instead of a deposit, Joseph would rely upon:
  • the furnishings and equipment Freeman would put on site.[25:00 - 26:30]
  • the franchiser's approval of Freeman: "Million Aire is a Top End Franchise." [26:30]
Personal attacks on Hennessey will not protect taxpayers if things go wrong. Furnishings and equipment are no security when you don't know what you're getting because the County requires no asset inventory [27:30], and they are not fungible. Million Aire's judgment of Freeman's reliability is no substitute for the County getting some of its $ix-figure employees off their duffs to perform "due diligence" and place some protective clauses in the contract.

Joseph's responses make clear that he and his committee have become so vested in the process of securing the vendor and negotiating the contract that they have lost their objectivity. They trust the chosen vendor as part of "the team."

No comments: