Complaint to state Open Meetings Compliance Board about backroom deal on City procurement

COMPLAINT: Failure to conduct an open meeting of the Mayor & Board of the City of Frederick to present, discuss, and vote on RFP14J, the procurement of a developer for the City-sponsored downtown hotel Continue reading

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Procurement RFP14J workshopped but never presented, discussed or voted on by Mayor & Board at public hearing

City records show that the key procurement, RFP14J, in which a developer was sought for the downtown hotel was never presented, discussed, or voted on, at a public hearing of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen back in 2013/2014.  The City Purchasing Policies and Procedures Manual requires that for contracts over $49,999.99 “the solicitation document along with all backup shall be submitted… for approval by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen” (p36.) Adopted as a Resolution by the Mayor & Board this represents City law.

Without any Mayor & Board approval of the terms of the RFP14J procurement it is unclear that there was a legal basis for the selection of the Plamondon company announced in August 2014, and ratified in a City-Plamondon Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on December 23, 2015. Continue reading

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The dilettante control freaks — looking back to 2013

Back five years, on February 6, 2013 at a Mayor & Board of Aldermen (M&B) workshop there was an interesting discussion among the City officials who got us into the downtown hotel boondoggle. They were considering a recommendation from the mayor’s Hotel Advisory Committee (HAC) that the City authorize $157,000 to hire Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) as the principal consultant for procurement of the site and the hotel developer. Continue reading

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Mayor says terms of hotel deal with Plamondon and historic mitigation both in “active negotiation”

The terms of the City-Plamondon deal for developing a hotel complex on the old Frederick News-Post are now in “active negotiation.” Mayor Michael O’Connor says this in a letter to Andy Stout, who wrote him questioning aspects of the City’s handling of the project. Continue reading

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Why the City-sponsored hotel is wrong

This website is dedicated to documenting what’s wrong with the City-sponsored hotel project here in downtown Frederick. We’ve written about:

— how and why the project was launched (because hotel developer Pete Plamondon thought such a hotel could pay once the State provided a new gateway off the Interstate and if the City would carry the cost of the conference center that the Chamber of Commerce wanted)

— how the City’s ran a fake competed procurement in 2013 (by outsourcing procurement to the shadowy Hotel Advisory Committee, rejecting their consultant’s plan for competition, limiting proposals to owners of a couple of approved sites, then doing an outrageously biased scoring to eliminate Plamondon’s competitor) Continue reading

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HAC chair Robbins resigns, says hopes the “politics” holding up the project can be resolved

Earl Robbins (Frederick News-Post picture 2013)

The longtime Hotel Advisory Committee (HAC) chair Earl Robbins resigned effective the end of 2017. And Mayor Michael O’Connor is not looking to replace him, spokesman Patti Mullins tells us. Robbins was honored by the Mayor & Board in a ceremony at their regular meeting in City Hall, Thursday March 1 — presented with a Certificate of Appreciation by Mayor Michael O’Connor. Continue reading

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Save the Birely smokestack

Any serious mitigation plan for the Birely Tannery would look to save some significant component of the building. Why not the splendid brick smokestack?

At more than 40ft the equivalent of nearly five stories high, nicely tapered from 4 ft at the base to 2.5 ft at the top, (my rough estimates) minimally decorated, it is a substantial and distinctive brick structure in its own right, although its footprint is modest. It soars well above the roofline of the three story north wing of the tannery. Continue reading

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State agencies still open to comment on Birely Tannery mitigation plan

“We welcome comments from the consulting parties and it is not too late for comments to be considered by DHCD (state Department of Housing & Community Development) and MHT (Maryland Historical Trust.)” So writes MHT’s Beth Cole, administrator project review and compliance who is coordinating the state historic preservation regulator’s effort to craft a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on a Birely Tannery ‘mitigation’ plan with the City. Continue reading

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Mayor challenged to clarify five aspects of hotel deal — letter from 22 citizens

The Honorable Michael O’Connor
Mayor of The City of Frederick
City Hall
Frederick, MD 21701

Dear Mr. O’Connor:
In your inaugural address you spoke of embarking on a “new commitment to civic engagement” and of the need to “restore faith in public institutions.” You have said the city will follow the principles of “open government.” Nowhere is this needed more than in the conduct of the downtown hotel project. Transparency and candor are urgently needed in respect to: Continue reading

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How they deliberately avoided competition in procurements of land and hotel developer

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the City Hotel Advisory Committee’s lead consultant in this procurement, foresaw the land valuation problem mentioned by Andy Stout in the previous report. And they proposed a procedure to avoid that problem, along with a way to get real competitive bids for the hotel development itself. Continue reading

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