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Questions over follow-through continue after ad contract debacle

(Nov. 8, 2013) In a meeting where the bulk of the night’s comments – especially with regard to the petition against the performing arts center project – had all the precision of a sawn-off shotgun, at least one issue was extremely pointed.

Councilman Brent Ashley is still skeptical of City Manager David Recor’s follow-through.

“On Aug. 20 of 2012, the council voted unanimously to issue an RFP [request for proposals] for horseback rides on the beach,” Ashley said.

He gathered, through later notes from city staff meetings, that the bid documents had been drawn up and submitted to Recor for further discussion with the council. This apparently never happened.

“It was given to you…but it never came back to the full council,” Ashley alleged.

Recor said he could not recall that specific request. But his suspicion was clearly that Ashley was less concerned with the policy itself and more concerned with making a point.

“Why do you wait until Monday night to do this, instead of just picking up the phone and having a conversation with me about it?” Recor fired back.

“I’m just saying ‘can you find out?’” Ashley maintained. “I just want to get it on record that it was voted on unanimously but I haven’t seen it.”

The last time Ashley asked Recor to investigate a missing RFP, however, it resulted in considerable recrimination for Recor and the council.

In September, Ashley had inquired as to when the city would be going back out to bid on its marketing contract, currently held by MGH Advertising – an issue of previous debate.

In August of 2012, council voted 4-to-3 to give MGH the required 120 days notice and re-bid the contract before the end of the year. However, that decision was reversed, and the contract extended, after the city’s Tourism Advisory Board submitted that the town’s stakeholders would not have enough time to give input and make a decision before the December expiration.

However, when Ashley brought the issue up again this year, Recor and other city officials seemed to be under the impression that the contract was good through 2014 and that MGH’s status was a non-issue.

This was not the case, as far as the council was concerned, Ashley pointed out. It was soon discovered that an RFP had not been developed and that, with the passage of the August notice deadline, MGH’s contract was in fact good through 2014.

The clear implication from Ashley was that the idea had been dropped after the November 2012 elections, when the council’s majority power had changed hands to a group more favorable to MGH. Even still, Ashley noted, the issue should have come back to the new council so that a new direction could be publicly debated.

In a terse exchange, Recor finally told Ashley that “I’m not going to offer you an excuse as to why it didn’t happen, I’m just going to say that it didn’t happen.”

At the council’s request, City Solicitor Guy Ayres had looked into the legal language of the contract to determine if last year’s discussion provided sufficient notice of termination for the upcoming year, which he said this week it was not.

“The motion that was on the floor by Mr. (Doug) Cymek, I believe, and that was voted on was not sufficient because the contract was entered into subsequent to that, and it had a provision that you had to provide notice, and that notice was never given,” Ayres said.

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