Friday, November 07, 2014

Public Access Counselor Says Ballard Administration Needs To Release RFP For Criminal Justice Center

The Public Access Counselor's Office has opined against the Ballard administration's untenable position that it had no legal obligation to make public the Request for Proposals, including draft versions it shared with three bidding groups competing to build a new criminal justice center. The law is clear on this point, but a law firm which actually helped the City write the current law in question nearly twenty years ago, and which is currently being paid obscene legal fees to argue otherwise, insists that the Public-Private Agreements Act allows it to withhold the documents until it has chosen a winner and negotiated a final agreement. The Public Access Counselor writes in an opinion issued in response to a request for the documents by the Indianapolis Business Journal chiding the administration:
The City asserts the negotiation process includes the three vendors giving input as to what the RFP process should look like, specifically the portion of the RFP identified as the Public Private Agreement ("PPA"). This Office does not hold itself out to be an expert on procurement; however, it has sought the advice of several other authorities--all of whom consider the City's bidding practices in this situation to be irregular. Irregularities notwithstanding, I am not compelled by the City's assertion of the negotiation exception to disclosure in this instance.
"Irregular bidding practices" is an understatement. It is truly outrageous that our taxpayer dollars are being used to pay attorneys to make completely untenable legal arguments in an effort to stonewall and withhold documents the public has every right under the law to see right now concerning this monstrosity of a public works project the Ballard administration is undertaking in such a secretive fashion, which will saddle taxpayers with billions of dollars in obligations over the next 35 years. Perhaps the Disciplinary Commission should stop picking on all of the little guys practicing law for trivial transgressions and start focusing its attention on big law firm attorneys who have refined their practice of denying the public honest legal services down to a science. Public accountability demands it.

1 comment:

Marycatherine Barton said...

I share your outrage. Thanks, Gary.