In December the Observer’s Brian McMillan reported admiringly on city government’s relatively new Palm Coast Connect. The transformative portal gives residents the ability immediately to report concerns and track how the city is addressing them. It also gives the city the ability to much better analyze where the problems are and how well it responds, or not. It’s an action and accountability tool many governments are using in varied forms. The rapid response and data-driven system is making a difference. And considering that sort of tool’s ultimate but unspoken aim–to mercilessly slash through customer service departments’ warmer bodies–it’ll save a ton of money. Horse and buggies must at some point give way to trams. It’s cleaner, it helps more people more quickly, at less cost.
Palm Coast Connect launched only nine months ago. But its genesis dates back to early 2017, when the city was exploring the idea. The portal was developed by Coastal Cloud, the local company booming with business and plaudits since launch seven years ago. Then-City Manager Jim Landon, a Svengali of contractual arrangements on his terms, invited the company to “develop a 311 citizen engagement number and app,” as the title of the resolution–the local law under which the agreement operates–called it. Coastal Cloud had no government-contract experience. Palm Coast would be its portal to that experience. The deal was: it would do it its part, and its part alone, at zero cost to the city. The rest was the city’s responsibility.
Mayor Milissa Holland started working for Coastal Cloud’s public sector division in June 2017, around the same time that early talks with Landon were developing. Let’s not pretend otherwise: There’s no question that the nature of the deal by definition eventually involved some preferential treatment. It was Coastal Cloud after all that was given the opportunity to develop the system for free, not another company. No request for proposal was issued to extend that opportunity to anyone else.
Then again, the school district doesn’t issue a request for proposal every time it partners with one of a number of local companies, Coastal Cloud among them, to participate in any of two dozen flagship programs in district schools. Those are costly investments to the companies, the district is the beneficiary, and unquestionably, some companies are involved in some schools where they have more interest than in others, turning impressionable students into potential customers. Those relationships, too, bear close examination–the involvement of business in our schools has gotten an unjustified pass–but in the scheme of things, the benefits flutter more brightly than the red flags, and there are more pressing issues to examine.
The Coastal Cloud relationship with Palm Coast falls in that category. Even if the mayor was not one whit involved in any of those discussions, she was still the mayor, and she was still an employee of Coastal Cloud. Those relationships cannot be discounted, nor can those involved on either side of the deal ignore the perception they instigate. And to pretend that the relationships have no bearing on anything happening at one level or another goes against all known psychology of human behavior and the principles of business networking. Palm Coast Connect is not just an app. It’s a metaphor. But that’s stating a fact, not a judgment, let alone an indictment: if the mayor was one pillar in the bridge connecting Coastal Cloud to the city, what of it?
Brian and I had the same reaction at the origin of the deal nearly two years ago: if no money is changing hands, it’s more of a PR story for the city’s then-torrid PR machine than an investigative story for either the Observer or FlaglerLive. Besides, Svengali was in charge of writing the contract.
Of course there’d be additional costs. Even a tech dunce like me would know that no “app” these days is its own ecosystem, some of it costly, such as the system’s reliance on the Salesforce platform, without which Coastal Cloud would not be what it is. Coastal Cloud Co-owner Tim Hale pointed out explicitly at a council workshop that Salesforce costs money. Jake Scully, Coastal Cloud’s point man on the project (and a member of the city’s planning board), wrote it explicitly to Landon in an email. It wasn’t in the contract with Coastal Cloud, because the two are separate and should not be mingled contractually, just as no in-house employee costs were in the contract, though given Landon’s obsessive attraction to running everything in “teams,” we knew that part was going to overtax city employees.
But the title of the resolution, as reflected also by its body, also explicitly states boilerplate but in this case important language: the resolution provides that the city manager or “designee” will execute the agreement. And the agreement provides for “conflicts.” That’s also relevant, given Holland’s twin roles. She recused herself from the matter, though it appears some people would have wished she’d acted more like Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. Not quite fair to a single parent holding one of the rare jobs that enabled her to keep her daughter from entering the sixth sense. Sarah and Tim Hale presented the plan to the council in an August 2018 workshop. It was approved the following week, with hardly any comments, by Council members Bob Cuff, Nick Klufas and Vincent Lyon–two punctilious lawyers and a tech nerd, or hardly the sort of majority that would let trickiness slip it by. Cuff even assured me today that he didn’t vote for Nixon either times. Holland did not attend that meeting.
That was 19 months ago. Three months ago Brian writes his “Win-Win” about Palm Coast Connect, a story whose only fault was the journalistic sin of using that abominable cliche. Two weeks ago the Observer publishes ex-Palm Coast PR chief Cindi Lane’s “tricky relationship” OpEd about the city’s relationship with Coastal Cloud, followed a day later by Brian’s “Lessons learned” analysis about the whole thing, including the fecal spatter of Lane’s piece against city fans. Finally last night at the Palm Coast City Council we witnessed the unprecedented one-two punch by Holland and Tim Hale against Lane, Brian and the Observer.
It was an unfortunate and excessive display, 92 minutes long, of unfairly–and inaccurately–conflating into one pot any and all sources of criticism or reporting about the relationship, with Brian taking the brunt of the criticism for publishing Lane’s piece in the first place, or allegedly not doing his “due diligence,” even with the reporting. No one would take issue with Holland and Hale protecting the reputation of Coastal Cloud. But I don’t see how doing so at the expense of that of the Observer or its editor, whose decade in the business speaks of nothing but immaculate and ethically irreproachable work, lends either the credibility they seek to protect for themselves, or speaks of the transparency they claim to champion for the city.
After getting tipped off by ex-employees concerned about the climate at City Hall–which, incidentally, has nothing to do with Coastal Cloud–Brian worked for months on an investigative piece about the mayor’s relationship with the company. He found nothing. In that regard, Holland stressed even Monday evening that he had done his due diligence. But she was upset that Lane’s column then ran.
Inquisitorial though it was, Lane’s was an opinion column (as this is, incidentally). More than that: it’s an opinion column informed by Lane’s perspective at City Hall. Nowhere in the column does Lane criticize Coastal Cloud, let alone slander the company. Her criticism is focused on public issues, on the city’s handling of the deal, and largely, ironically, on the administration’s handling of the deal–hers, Landon’s, others who were involved. She’s pointing the finger at Holland, blaming her for exuding some vague penumbral inhibitors over anyone raising questions within the administration, even when she’s miles away. She should be pointing it at Landon, herself and others who at any time could have raised issues with the deal. They didn’t. That’s the central paradox of Lane’s column, its own undoing. Landon was a lot of unsavory things. A sap at writing contracts, he was not. He got off on it, his quarter-million dollar golden parachute from the city being Exhibit A. He claims he was not aware of the extent of the Salesforce cost. His claim is not believable, and if it is, then it’s on him, not on Holland or anyone else.
Brian had recurring meetings with Landon, who sometimes may have played him like a fiddle. Not a squeak on the Coastal Cloud deal in all those one-on-one meetings. Really? Was Landon intimidated by Brian, the guy who’d have to go to therapy if he ever thought he made someone feel uncomfortable? Landon’s squeamishness is not believable. “Either he’s a liar, he’s stupid or he’s incompetent,” Holland said Monday evening, in one of her more brutal assessments. Considering the context, she wasn’t wrong. But her opinion was no less of one than Lane’s. It was just meaner (something you’d expect me to say, not the mayor).
Lane disputed the uncritical tone of Brian’s earlier story. That’s her prerogative. She made claims. Some of them are factually in dispute, like whether the city was looking at other, cheaper apps, though ultimately the 311 system will reduce personnel, and therefore costs. Some of her claims are impossible to verify but more logical than not, like whether or not Holland’s connection to Coastal Cloud created an intimidation factor. Coastal Cloud or not, Holland can be intimidating and doesn’t even realize it. But the claim that Holland supposedly worked on PR releases related to Coastal Cloud–really, the most specific accusation in Lane’s whole piece–rankled Holland, and she called it an outright lie. Maybe public records can prove who’s telling the truth. But it’s not worth the hunt.
Whatever the case may be, even if Holland edited a release in which she was extensively quoted, and a release that really didn’t amount to anything, as government releases generally don’t, who really cares? That sort of “involvement” pales compared to, say, Council member Jack Howell’s boastful claim Monday evening that he “investigated” this whole issue himself. If so, then Howell was doing something grossly unethical. And as I recall, Holland flexed her guillotine every time former Council member Steven Nobile suggested he should sniff around administrative crannies. Council members are barred from meddling in the administration in any capacity other than fact-finding–to educate themselves about issues before council, not to go on a hunt for dirt, and certainly not to play cop. At the city, that’s Jay Maher’s job–and that internal investigation, the city clerk tells me, is ongoing. (Actually, it was done and closed, then it mysteriously reopened this week after my inquiry, so I couldn’t get a copy: that’s way more weird and suspicious than anything in Lane’s column.)
Some of the issues Lane questioned should be questioned, especially when an elected official is employed by a company working with her government. Holland can’t be preaching transparency, as she did last night, and not welcome it in print, especially when it’s so easily refutable. The mayor doth protest too much. And certainly, absolutely, Brian was not wrong or lacking in due diligence to publish the OpEd. Timing has nothing to do with it. (Landon didn’t approach Brian, it was the other way around). An OpEd from a former public employee about the government where she had a unique perspective is a legitimate OpEd in any circumstance. It wasn’t a frivolous piece. Even if it was written to undermine Holland, that’s Lane’s right. The piece may be disputed or discredited. That doesn’t make it slander. It certainly doesn’t make it any less worthy of publication, or “inappropriate,” as Holland called it. The discussions it led to alone are worth the price of publication. (And if you thought there was no connection whatever between Coastal Cloud and Holland as mayor, well, it would seem that last night’s 90-minute counter-inquisition would have put that illusion to bed.)
The piece led to comments on Facebook that were idiotic, false, possibly slanderous, and injurious to Coastal Cloud’s reputation, not to mention Holland’s. Hale showed many of them in his presentation Monday night. But the degenerates of social media should not be confused with the press and the original articles that light them up. Either the Observer or FlaglerLive could have reported a piece that stated in headlines that Coastal Cloud and the mayor are above reproach, that Palm Coast Connect is working, that the wall of separation between the two is legit. The nut jobs will still go zoological on Holland, because this is Flagler County, because she is powerful, she is a woman, and she is making things happen. Political lechery takes many shapes, none more lurid than in the unaccountable gutters of social media.
But to put that anywhere near Brian’s judgment as a journalist is no less a lurid and “inappropriate” comparison, especially when it instigates–as it very much did at council last night–yet more degenerate attacks on the media, which we heard from some in the audience who addressed the council after the Hale-Holland apologias. We already have a moronic commissioner making a habit of bashing the local press to score more depraved likes. We don’t need ostensible champions of the press–I’d put Holland and the Hales in that group–falling prey to the same lure the moment they’re briefly, and survivably, questioned. They’re way bigger than that.
“It’s detrimental when these conversations happen,” Hale said during his “Defending Our reputation” segment, with a 33-page powerpoint, “and it’s even more detrimental when social media and the bullying and the gang-up start.” No disputing that. But is the press to self-censor an article just because of the possibility–even the certainty–that it will loosen commenters’ bile and lead to slanders on social media’s dirtier outer rings, on group or individual pages the originating newspaper couldn’t possibly control? The day we get to that point, we might as well close up shop and, well, go write PR for local government. That’s not where the local press is, or should ever be. (City Manager Matt Morton said he opted to add Hale to the agenda, which the manager—not the council—control.)
But it wasn’t the Observer or Lane or Landon who opened the door to all that, or who made last night’s strange segment necessary. It was Holland herself as mayor and employee of Coastal Cloud, and it was Coastal Cloud’s decision, after Landon’s invitation, to agree to an arrangement with the city while having Holland on staff. No matter how you see it, no matter how many walls you raise, no matter how laudable the work you do, the questions will always be asked–and in any community worth its transparency, should be asked–about the relationship. They both knew the risks going in. They clearly found the deal to be worth the risk, and in fact, it is: Palm Coast Connect is working, the city is celebrating, and the company is leveraging its experience. But don’t be surprised when the risk is not always an abstraction.
After highlighting the role Coastal Cloud plays in the community as an employer and a partner in the school district, Holland last night said it was unacceptable to claim that Coastal Cloud is now “sitting here trying to do something that wasn’t agreed upon from the beginning. This is very, very, very upsetting. Very upsetting, and this should never happen in our community ever again. Ever again. We are better than this. Our community is better than this, and our community deserves better than this.”
She’s right about the innuendoes, the slanders, the baseless attacks, and if that’s what she means by how it should “never happen again,” we can only hope so, though that’s just as valid for any of us, any of our companies, any of our reputations–and I don’t see anyone else defended from a public dais.
And I very much hope that when Holland says that this should “never happen again,” she’s not suggesting that we’re a company town, or that the local press watches what it reports and whose columns it runs for fear that it may offend, or cause others to flood the gutters. That’s an awfully Landonesque circling of the wagons around a City Hall I’d imagined was well past its cultish era. Our community is better than this, mayor. The fact that Coastal Cloud, you and the Observer are making it so should tell you something.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here.
In ANY governance model, this relationship should have been terminated long ago.
Thank you Pierre….spot on!
John R Brady aka anonymous says
At a meeting of the Palm Coast City Council held the evening of March 3rd 2020, The Mayor, all council members and Tim Hale the owner of Coastal Cloud spoke. The point that they were trying to make was that the Mayor was in no way responsible for the decision to hire Coastal Cloud and the resulting charge for the services of Salesforce.
As should be painfully obvious from our daily interactions in the political realm, facts do not matter. In fact, presenting the facts sometimes hardens the opposition.
The point being that perceptions or reality. The people who have a negative view will only see presentation of facts as a cover up.
Coastal Cloud has a public relations problem at the very least. Defending what was done will not solve the public relations problem.
I would suggest to Mr. Hale that he work on what the mayor said publicly and move on. His company is an asset to Palm Coast and Flagler County.
With that said, Mr. Hale should acknowledge that the perceptions exist and that he will address them in the following manner so that city and his company can move on.
He might consider suggesting to the Mayor that she resign as mayor.
He might consider appointing another member of his staff who has no connection to the city as liaison between the city of Palm Coast and his company.
He might consider the person he designates as liaison be the sole point of contact for business transactions involving the city of Palm Coast.
I believe that this is an action plan that any good public relations firm would offer to move on and stay on track.
Also, the City staff should continue to be vigilant as to other software programs that might be less expensive and have greater functionality. The commitment to continue to be vigilant should be one that the city manager makes publicly.
The Realist says
Mayor Holland is doing a great job for our citizens. Her father was a great man that dedicated the latter portion of his life to making Palm Coast a great place to live. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Why don’t you aim higher and write an article about a national scandal involving another family. That would be the Biden family and all the money Hunter (the drug addict thrown out of the Navy) was making due to Joe’s influence in Ukraine. Im sure you would never do that because of your faithfulness to the party, comrade. But you won’t need to because you can bet your ass its all coming out before senile Joe can get a chance to become elected.
Pierre Tristam says
Realist, Living up to your name once again I see, but I appreciate the seriousness of your concern for local issues, and you’re right, there aren’t enough Salem witches on the Biden corruption story—a story that, frankly, only the Observer could get to the bottom of, so out of competitive zeal much of our crack team of 600 reporters here has been investigating a horrendous nest of corruption between Joe or the other Biden with Palm Coast FiberNet (why do you think we were so late on the Coastal Cloud story?). Here’s what we know so far: the Bidens, using Soros and Saudi money, are using FiberNet to network a slew of underground mosques and Sahria courts right here in Flagler, so Obama can pray in peace—one of them is the Saul Alinsky Islamic Center, right below County Road 305— so the mosques can, scaling Rev. Wright’s rhetoric, recruit socialist-jihadists more efficiently, so their webcasts are sharp and in living color all the way to Riyadh, and so the more zealous and secretly Sunni of our elected officials (you’d be amazed how many there are) can decide whose hands to sever. We also know the Bidens, in a land deal identical to Whitewater of course, have set up a bachelor pad for Bill Clinton in the Mondex and are in talks with the sheriff’s office so Biden’s son can freebase their coke stash, thus alleviating the sheriff’s ongoing evidence room crunch. There’s a Fibernet connection in there somewhere but our reporters (not always the brightest bulbs) haven’t found the link. They have all, however, put in tickets through Palm Coast Connect to find out. Should be any time now. And to think I have to cover silly superintendent interviews today. Ridiculous.
HAHAH. Be careful. Satire is lost on many.
I KNEW IT!
LMFAO Its REALLY all one can do for the continuous drivel brought by uninformed mindless followers of a long ago proven false Conspiracy Theory by none other than THE Orange CLOWN himself and the GOULIANI digging around Ukraine looking for his poorly fitting false teeth. Pierre you missed your calling . Brilliant. BUT don’t let it go to your head. Remember its ALL a HOAX. BIG BLUE TSUNAMI
You realize, don’t you, that a majority of voting age Flagler countians believe at least a majority of your satirical jibes?
Edith Campins says
Excellent article Mr. Tristam. As for The Realist…if we are going to be investigating things how about Jared and Ivanka reporting an income of $82 million dollars while suppossedly working at the White House without taking a salary?
Percy's mother says
What about Biden’s son and the salary he was making when good ole Joe was VP?
Edith Campins says
NEW YORK (AP) –
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has sold his stake in a company investing in Opportunity Zone projects offering tax breaks he had pushed for in Washington, sparking criticism that he was benefiting from his White House role.
A filing at the Office of Government Ethics released Monday shows that Kushner received permission to defer capital gains taxes on the sale of his stake in Cadre, a digital platform for smaller investors in commercial properties. Kushner’s holding in the private Cadre was worth between $25 million and $50 million, according to a financial disclosure report he filed with federal ethics officials last year.
Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, pushed for the Opportunity Zone tax breaks to be included in Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul. The breaks offer investors big cuts in capital gains taxes.
Nepotism at its finest but all a Hoax false news
So why doesn’t the annual cost of the Cities contract with Salesforce ever get mentioned? Is Salesforce the only platform that supports the Coastal Cloud application? What is the expected ROI of the City from using the the Free (Coastal Cloud) and the (Expensive) Salesforce, bottom line does this make sense now that someone “knows” the total annual cost?
AGREE. IMO we dont need it period. Fix the roads, water, lights, crime etc…….
To “The Realist”
Why don’t you live up to your “name”?…or pick a new one?
Concerned Palm Coaster says
In Cindi Lane’s column she mentioned that the Observer piece stopped being reported “for the good of the community.” What does that mean? That’s the question that needs to be answered both by the Observer and the city. What happened to “We Report, You Decide”
If Jay Maher’s office re-opened their internal investigation that either means someone lied somewhere the first time around or that he’s assisting the Justice Department. Maybe (hopefully) both. I’m sick of my tax dollars going to prop up Milissa Holland’s fancies.
LEE MICHAUD says
The people we voted in to watch over our city are not doing a very good job. Voters have the opportunity next election to vote them out.
Not Bloody Likely says
Anything that requires this much explaining surely has long since failed the smell test.
My biggest issue with Palm Coast Connect and Coastal Cloud is the complete lack of transparency when it comes to protecting data privacy. Not a single mention of it anywhere, anytime, anyplace over the last two years. When you go to sign up on the site, never a mention or a link as to how Palm Coast Connect will protect my information. Not one. Just sign up and give us your information; trust us.
So what’s happening with all of that data that’s being collected that a small private corporation with tentacles directly connected to thousands of other public and private corporations all around the world have untethered access to?
Moreover, as soon as you place a call or send an email to your local government services agency, you’re now tracked, with apparently no recourse or path for protecting your privacy and ensuring it is not sold to the highest bidder.
In a capitalistic society we have freedom to choose which companies we want to service our needs. But when local small municipal government arbitrarily chooses to partner with private entities, bypassing all standards for accountability, privacy, and those doggone pesky bidding and procurement processes, well then it appears we’ve crossed over into the wanting hands of an authoritarian regime. That’s not the government I fought for!
Security and data privacy is only as strong as it’s weakest link. Palm Coast Connect along with Coastal Cloud is that weakest link. Count me out.
Thank you for your excellent comments, Not Bloody Likely. You raise issues that no one else has and your concerns are absolutely on point.
It is nice to have someone like Coastal Cloud BETA test their application so they can sell it nationwide now. No cost to the city. (except internal labor etc.) Anyone who works in IT now knows that all SaaS has links to other software, storage network etc.. A single application to do it all is far and few between now a days based on the wide range of features/functions that each business has. Not manner are exact anymore.
My concern with this issue is no one is talking about the cost of Salesforce. We use Salesforce where I work and its not cheap. In one of the articles it mentions an ongoing, growing cost. Has the city looked at what this expense is and possible growth in cost? I bet not. Just like FiberNet, when I have asked for cost and forecast of cost, everyone goes dark.
For once I want to see the city do a project, state the cost of the project from start to ongoing expense, and then have the city report periodically what the actuals end up being so we can compare and see if early projects are right or not.
In my business, when I have a project, they are tracked numerous ways. One of the biggest is cost/budget and ongoing reporting of it. In the 20 years I have been here, I have yet to see this happen with any project.
Based on this discussion going on for 90 minutes and the Mayor making the comments she did, you can tell there is more to this story.
Great editorial, Pierre! It is nice to see journalism very much alive and well again! Thanks for making a difference.
@Unrealistic what the heck the Biden’s have to do with Palmcoastconnect, our Mayor and Coastal Cloud? Showing your poor and crass strategy to defend what to many city residents looks like an “appearance of unethical conflict of interest” thou maybe no crime committed. We are kind of getting used to it in the last 3.5 years, starting with POTUS, all his family members on down and their daily deals at the top. Any Democrat (no my party yet) on their place, would have been jailed already.
I admit had to read the Article twice I am not that smart. What hits me between the eyes is that we don’t need this as a small Community IMO nor is the “Business” Relationship proper. As in all things PC one must look to the soft underbelly to see the reality of whats going on and whos protecting who. We have PT to do that for us. THX Once again a set of eyes peering out from the woodpile. Vote them out!
Whatever happened here Coastal Cloud did not need this business. So why take the risk. There are plenty of off the shelf 311 systems out there that are easily plugged in an played. But to handle this without any elemental knowledge of how Public Sector Procurement works is scary. If you think there is a conflict of interest then there is…………
Alan Bergman says
As a Federal Contracting Officer there is 2 criteria for awarding a “No Bid” contract, which is referred to as a sole-source contract in my line of work. The first criteria is one of legality. A Federal Lawyer is required to review the contract to ensure it does not violate Federal Laws that mandate competition. The other consideration prior to awarding a no-bid contract is one of ethics. Everyone would agree that awarding a no-bid contract with tax payer’s dollars to my brother in law would be unethical. Furthermore awarding a contact that even gives the appearance of being unethical is prohibited, so I couldn’t award a contract to my boss’s friend or someone who had hired my former boss for the purpose of getting a no-bid contract for a company.
Was the no-bid contract awarded to Costal Cloud legal? I assume so as it appears to was reviewed by the appropriate persons prior to becoming a legal contract. Was it ethical?That is a question that needs to be answered by the Palm Coast Voters in determining what type of person they want to ensure decisions are made in the best interest of Palm Coast. Unethical decisions benefits a few select individuals and not the community at large.
Mr Reese says
So many red flags here. The mayor works for Coastal Cloud; The point man for Coastal Cloud is on the City’s planning board; No other companies were invited to submit proposals.Like it or not, elected officials are held to a higher standard. Even the appearance of impropriety should be avoided.This decision placed City staff in a very difficult and awkward position at best.Here is the real tell. If you have to go through this much effort to justify that you didn’t do anything wrong, YOU DID! Just because something may withstand legal and ethical scrutiny doesn’t make it right!
Some time ago Pierre wrote about this relationship and how the Mayor blurred the lines in a public speech about the city and coastal cloud. That should have been a red flag. The mayor at this point has erased any line that should exist between her public office and private work. She needs to resign her director position at Coastal Cloud or the Mayor. She needs to choose which she would like to be.
I think she needs to resign from her position as mayor. The mere fact that she didn’t consider how this partnership could be viewed speaks to her incompetence (at the least) and certainly erodes the public trust.
Mr. Bergman’s post above was on the mark. Remember the proposed garbage service contract extension of a couple years ago that would have allowed a contract extension which included an increase in the cost to the City. After negative comments from citizens, the garbage service contract was put out for bids by the City and (surprise) with competitive bids, the cost of garbage collection actually decreased and the comments on a sweetheart deal for garbage collection died. Surely Palm Coast was not the first city to be so forward thinking as to pioneer such a system and to do it without soliciting competitive bids for the system. At the very least, procuring any goods or services for the city with a company having any relationship with City officials, at the least, shows poor judgment and also raises reasonable suspicions of a sweetheart deal that can never be eliminated.
The commenter BB is only partly right: the contract with Waste Pro was due for renewal in 2016. The city issued a Request for Proposal, got just two bids, one of them from Waste Pro, and extended the contract with Waste Pro–with a 9 percent increase in fees. That contract ends in June 2022. The details here.
Michael Van Buren says
Very well written Pierre. As a government employee for 32 years all I can say is a lot of times the first red flag thrown at something the doesn’t seem right is done by the honest workers that have a front row seat. I have known Brian for years, and have always known him to be ethical and thorough while reporting the news. Melissa Holland’s aggressive response does make wonder however. Sometimes the best defense is a strong offense is what it seems.
From Hamlet “The lady doth protest too much , me thinks.”