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Thursday, January 6, 2011

City's 'No Bid' Contract Abuse

Chamber Enjoys Council's Gravy Train 
Cronyism In Emeryville: 
Chamber Nets 'No Bid' Contract

Consider the fortune of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce: they produce a newspaper that calls on voters to support certain city council members for re-election and those same council members then direct the City to hire the Chamber to provide a service contract without any competition in the form of a 'no bid' contract.  Its a pretty sweet deal for the Chamber of Commerce but its also a classic example of political cronyism.

The Tattler has reported much recently about how a clause in this service contract directs the Chamber to re-start its defunct partisan newspaper but unreported until now is the fact that the entire contract is 'no bid'; granted without bidding by any service providers other than the Chamber of Commerce.

The work enumerated in the contract includes:

  1. Assist with Emeryville's 'Enterprise Zone' implementation (use the Chamber's newsletter) 
  2. Support the implementation of the City's Climate Action Plan
  3. Assist Emeryville in business attraction, retention & workforce development 

For this work, the City is to pay the Chamber of Commerce $100 per hour, up to $25,000.

There are a host of business consultancy firms that could effectively complete this work, perhaps better than the Chamber for less money but we'll never know because the city council gave their friends at the Chamber of Commerce a no-bid contract.

Martinez resident &
Chamber President
"No Bid" Bob Canter
Chamber president Bob Canter has not hidden the fact that business is off and that the company has experienced financial stress recently.   He said he is "delighted" to receive this contract from what he calls his "friends" on the council: Nora Davis, Ken Bukowski and Kurt Brinkman.  Mr Canter expressed that council member Ruth Atkin would have voted also to grant the contract but she was absent from the December 21st council meeting. For the record, Ms Atkin also received a re-election endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce.

There are no doubt other examples of no-bid contracts extended to private companies by City Hall; perhaps some also nefarious in their scope, some probably are perfectly harmless, but its doubtful any display the appearance of abject largess as this contract granted to the Chamber of Commerce.
This is what cronyism looks like.
It's likely, if pressed, there will be strenuous denials of corruption from these council members but as in Washington with its corporate lobbing efforts netting favorable legislation, there's really no way to definitively prove any quid pro quo.

So what is reasonable for Emeryville residents to expect?
It's reasonable that the city council reverse this contract and put it out to bid to other providers, if for no other reason than to give the appearance that the game is not rigged.  When it comes to the public's money, there needs to be an extra level of expectancy addressed reasonably.  These council members ain't doing it.


  1. Thanks for keeping the heat on them!

  2. Is anybody really surprised by this? This has been going on for years. It's not just the Chamber, either. Rich Robbins and other favored developers always get no-bid contracts from their friends on the council. A little graft makes the whole thing work more efficiently.

  3. All of these scumbags should be pushed into a wood chipper. all of them