$335,000 consultant JLL worked on Downtown Hotel boondoggle in violation of City purchasing rules

Recently obtained consultant invoices throw a horrifying light on the City’s selection of a developer for its downtown hotel and conference center (DH&CC.) They show Chicago based real estate consultants from Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) repeatedly violated the City’s purchasing rules in the run-up to the selection of the Plamondon company. At stake is the prize of $31 million that the City, the County and the State propose for a downtown hotel monopoly.

JLL was hired to assist the City put in scores of hours — billed to the City at $155 and more per hour — working on Plamondon’s proposal

The consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) employed by the City to assist it in negotiating the best terms a hotel development billed City taxpayers $335,000 over two years. Not one work product from that expenditure has been made public voluntarily. Public Information Act requests are very slowly extracting bits and pieces.

Unbeknown to the public they were charging up to $250/hour for priming bidders, and putting everything from $100 BWI taxi rides to $8 snacks on Frederick City taxpayers. Each of Jones Lang Lasalle’s officers working under contract to the City on the developer procurement RFP14-J was clearly an “agent of The City of Frederick” so was subject to the “blackout.”

Jones Lang Lasalle was employed by the City as a result of an earlier procurement RFP#13-F, October 22 to November 30, 2012) of a “Downtown Hotel Development Consultant.” The consultant’s responsibilities are laid out in two lists:

For the purposes of this RFP, consulting services are defined as, but not limited to: — Attending meetings — Developing appropriate site/developer selection mechanism — Analyzing financial proposals & developing financial plans — Evaluating proposals and other documents — Reporting in both written and oral formats — Developing recommendations — Providing labor, personnel, equipment (computers etc.), supplies and travel as necessary for providing consulting services — Ensuring that the City and the Advisory Committee interests are protected and goals are accomplished. (RFP p16)

Under a heading Specific Services the RFP has this:
The Consultant shall provide at a minimum but not limited to the following specific services: 1. Develop an overall approach to the project. 2. Develop a project schedule and key benchmark dates/milestones. 3. Serve as an advisor to the City and Hotel Advisory Committee and provide “best practices” advice and recommendations. 4. Attend and lead meetings with stakeholder groups. 5. Review pertinent documents and studies. 6. Attend public hearings and workshops with elected officials. 7. Develop appropriate selection tools such as but not limited to a Request for Proposals (RFP’s) to solicit and select the downtown hotel site and development team. 8. Analyze proposals and make award recommendations to the Hotel Advisory Committee. 9. Develop project cost estimates and recommend a financing strategy with sources and uses to assist with the implementation of financing tools. 10. Coordinate with major hotel brands to ensure that industry standards are being considered. (RFP p16, 17)

The same two lists of tasks were listed in submissions to the Mayor & Board when they discussed award of the hotel development consultant contract to JLL in February 2013 — http://cityoffrederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=1594&meta_id=35636#

Those were the tasks the Mayor & Board assigned to JLL in awarding the contract. The Mayor & Board did NOT authorize JLL to work with Plamondon on their RFP. They did NOT authorize JLL to help Plamondon in their presentations to the City. The Mayor & Board did NOT authorize JLL as an agent of the City to meet with Plamondon and deal with Plamondon correspondence and bill the City for all of this work with Plamondon in the run up to the issuance of the RFP. And the Mayor & Board did NOT authorize JLL to serve on the City’s selection committee.

None of those tasks were contracted for, and arguably their performance made a mockery of a clean competitive procurement process.

But all these extra-contract tasks were billed for by JLL and paid for by the City according to invoices obtained under the Public Information Act.

Examples:

Invoice US900-PDS-005421 30 Sep 2013 reimbursable expenses for Lisa Wiermsa $2.00 Parking 06-28-2013 for “Parking for meeting with hotel developer” Also billed on the same invoice was 2 lots of ‘Mileage’ and $46.33 for the trip to meet with the unnamed developer. Six other invoices for PM (project management) Services are listed May through September totaling $67, 452.90 in fees and $1,597.98 Reimbursible (Expenses. ) The invoice is stamped Paid dated Dec 13, 2013.

Invoice US900-PDS-006459 25 Nov 2013 includes the lead JLL consultant Peter Lambis billing 5 hours at his rate of $155/hour for “Meet with Plamondon, review/respond to project emails” on 10/10/13

He also billed 1.5 hours for Meeting with Ed Wormald 10/15/12

Other problematic JLL billings paid by the City include:

in Invoice US900-PDS-008848 Pete Lambis, the team leader who here charges $155/hour:

12/10/13: 2 hours Plamondon proposal/presentation correspondence
1/13/14: 4.5 hours Plamondon presentation, potential site drivebys
1/15/14: a portion of 3 hours billed for Plamondon correspondence – presentation
1/24/14: 4 hours RFP editing, Coordinate Plamondon correspondence – pro-forma/NDA

Two days later on Jan 26 Lambis billed the city for four hours reviewing/editing a ‘PI’ version of the RFP, and it was submitted to ‘Richard’ (Griffin.)

Next day it was back to Plamondon correspondence, among other work for 1.5 hour’s billing by Lambis.

Another JLLer Tyler Krehbiel also billed the City for work with the developer at the very same time work was being done on writing the City RFP which was posted officially February 20.

Krehbiel, a $155/hr JLLer did problematic work with the bidder/proposers as follows:

12/10/13: 2 hours Plamondon proposal/presentation correspondence
1/13/14: 4.5 hours Plamondon presentation, potential site drivebys
1/15/14: 1 hour Plamondon correspondence – presentation

Next week he like Lambis billed for work on drafting the RFP, then went back to Plamondon:

1/24/14 1 hour Plamondon correspondence – pro forma/NDA (non disclosure agreement)
1/27/14 1 hour Plamondon correspondence – additional financial scheduling, HVS article

John Gibb, another $155/hr JLL consultant was also in on working with Plamondon and billing the City. Just weeks before the RFP went out on Jan 16 2014 Gibb billed for an hour on a Plamondon presentation, a small part of 21 hours and ‘fee due’ of $3,255 but surprising by its timing like his colleagues’ work on Plamondon.

A fourth JLLer who goes for $155/hr Jonathan Walk spent 7 hours on two consecutive days (Jan 16 and 17) on what is described as Review of Plamondon Submission. He then went back to drafting the RFP, but almost half his January billing ($2,170 of $6,200) was for review of the Plamondon submission — all this just weeks before the RFP went out.

On the expense side Peter Lambis billed the City $55.70 for a lunch he had Sept 23 meeting with the City’s Richard Griffin.

Invoice US90-PDS-011530 dated 30-April 2014 covers 45 days back to mid-February, the period when the RFP was out there for bidders or proposers to propose on. Yet remember: the City’s consultants had already reviewed a Plamondon submission and worked on a Plamondon presentation, either an early unsolicited one or a draft of the real one in anticipation of the RFP. Or maybe the unsolicited one formed a first draft of the one that was solicited Feb 20.

In the period when RFP#14-J was going out Pete Lambis (he uses his familiar name here, no final ‘r’) in Invoice US90-PDS-011530 covering work Feb 2 thru March 27, 2014 and most of his 74 hours billed at $155/hr or $11470 was last minute work getting the RFP out the door and distributed.

But Feb 26 he billed 4 hours in a meeting to review Plamondon’s ‘pro forma’ or financial projections for the hotel project in the fist few years of operation.

March 2 and 3: 4.5 hours were billed in “Pro Forma Review.”

March 5 the JLL top dog Lambis billed 2 hours for dealing with RFP Correspondence. Now under City procurement rules all correspondence on the RFP from bidders is supposed to be routed through Kandi Fullerton, director of purchasing and she publishes it for the other bidders, or in this case, the other bidder to see also. March 15 and 17 there were billings from Pete Lambis for Plamondon Correspondence — 1.5 hours. That’s in the period the bidder is not supposed to make any contact with any City employee or agent of the City like JLL except through Ms Fullerton. We haven’t discovered any record that rule was followed.

They’d been reviewing the ‘pro forma’ or sensitive heart of the Plamondon bid both before and immediately after the RFP went out and handling correspondence with Plamondon directly, it appears, not through purchasing chief Ms Fullerton. And all on City taxpayer’s nickel at $155/hr.

Tyler Krebhiel was also dealing with Plamondon before and after the formal RFP went out. Feb 4 he billed an hour for Scheduling Plamondon pro forma meeting. Feb 26 four hours were billed for that meeting: Plamondon pro forma review. March 2 and 3 there are more Pro Forma reviews for 4 hours of billing. March 15, 16 and 18 Krehbiel dealt with Plamondon Correspondence and billed 2.5 hours.

Feb 26 JLLer John Gibb reviewed Plamondon Financials, billing 3.5 hours or $542 at $155/hr. The billing shows it was Plamondon, Plamondon, Plamondon… The second bidder Wormald was hardly on these guys’ screens!

Wormald only shows up in May 2014. May 9 the submissions were formally due. Invoice US900-PDS-012876 31 May covers the billing. Pete Lambis bills for 2x5hrs reviewing RFP proposals. There are 6-hour long interviews with Wormald 5/19 and Plamondon 5/28, after ‘Prep’(aration) of 2 hours with Wormald and 3 hours with Plamondon.

The Request for Proposals (RFP#14-J) tells bidders (p5) that: “All questions should be submitted in writing and received no later than ten (10) days prior to submittal due date, and sent to Attn: Kandi Fullerton, Purchasing Manager, Purchasing e-mail kfullerton@cityoffrederick.com. “ (p5 and p7)

“If any persons contemplating submission of a Proposal under this Solicitation is in doubt as to the true meaning of the specifications of other documents or any part thereof, the Proposer must submit to The City of Frederick Purchasing Manager in writing at once, but in no case later than 3:00 PM on Friday, March 21, 2014. Any interpretations of this Request for Proposal, if made, will be made only by Addendum duly issued by The City of Frederick Purchasing Manager.” p25

Under the heading Proposer’s Certification’ (p31) the bidder for the 14-J contract attests as part of the bid: “I further certify, under oath, that this proposal is made without prior understanding, agreement, connection, discussion, or collusion with any other person, firm or corporation submitting a proposal for the same product or service: no officer, employee or agent of The City of Frederick or any other proposer is interested in said proposal: and that the undersigned executed this Proposer’s Certification with full knowledge and understanding of the matters therein contained and was duly authorized to do so.”

Peter H Plamondon Jr signed this Proposer’s Certification and it was notarized as sworn before Christine Muffi on May 9 2014. Ed Wormald similarly.

2016.06.15

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