Wednesday, August 10, 2011

No Home Run Here

Tonight, August 10 at 6:00 pm, the Parks and Recreation Commission will be addressing the following item:

Review of Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) for the Upgrade,
Operation and Maintenance of the Tewinkle Park Sports Complex

Based on the staff report, it appears the City is considering operating the Tewinkle Park Sports Complex as a private concession. The City was approached about a similar concept by a private firm, Municipal Sportspark Management, in late 2009. MSM made a presentation at an October 2009 study session , but the minutes for that meeting reveal no direction by Council, and we haven’t noticed anything agendized for public discussion since.

Had the Council agendized consideration of a concession operation at the Tewinkle Park Sports Complex, isn’t it likely that baseball and soft ball players and parents would have stepped forward to comment? Wouldn’t adjacent residents have concerns? Has the City consulted any of these groups at all? When?

The staff report indicates that “At the request of Mayor Monahan, staff requested SOQ’s from a few local firms”. Does staff often circulate similar requests at the behest of a single council member?

Doesn’t Council policy require that council members get the approval of the council as a whole before pursuing any project requiring more than four hours of staff time? Wouldn’t preparation, circulation and review of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ), along with preparation of a staff report take at least that long? On just that basis the Council majority recently attempted to stymie Council Member Leece’s effort to bring forth a transparency ordinance which she had already fully prepared without staff assistance.

But why worry about blowing off adopted Council policy when you’re blowing off a court order? Costa Mesa has been ordered by the Orange County Superior Court to cease private outsourcing efforts and enjoined from laying off employees for outsourcing purposes. But here we see a City Commission prepared to review SOQs—if at least they have copies—which includes the following question:

"Would your company offer employment to City employees who are laid off as a result of outsourcing the operation of this recreational facility?"

At the August 2 City Council meeting, the Council was scheduled to consider procedures for review of proposals and qualifications for outsourcing, but the item was postponed. Even if moving forward with this item were consistent with Council policy in consuming less than four hours of staff time; even if there were no injunction prohibiting private outsourcing; wouldn’t it at least make sense to wait until the council had adopted procedures?