When we learned that the City Manager of Tallahassee awarded a contract to the highest bidder we started asking questions. What we found is a disturbing network of insiders that use the need for clean water to secure tax payer dollars to fund a program that after 8 years can provide no scientific evidence that it actually works.
However, as with any good scheme, a number of a people make money and nobody asks questions.
Lets start with the bid process for the production of a 30 second Public Service Announcement.
Usually governments put out Requests for Proposals because they want to get competitive bids for a service. In this case, as reported on the front page of this paper, two bids were submitted and the City Manager selected the bid for $27,000 over the bid for $6,000. There was no negotiating, no attempts to get the higher bid closer to the lower bid – just here you go high bidder!
You say how did this happen?
Well the fact that the winning bidder has lunch with the City Manager and donates money to a charity at her request might have something do with it.
Or maybe it was the fact that the winning bidder put City Commissioner Nancy Miller down as a referenced – not good for the City Manager to go against her boss!
When we asked Commissioner Nancy Miller if she approved of the bidder using her as a reference, she said “no I did not but I do not have a problem with my name being used, I would recommend Mr. Yordon for the project.”
It was obvious Commissioner Miller, who was an employee of the TAPP program and worked with Mr. Yordon before she was elected, preferred Mr. Yordon. So I asked why was the project even bid out? She replied “because we had to!”
At a City Commission meeting after the Tallahassee Reports story was published, Commissioner Miller defended the program and talked about how successful the program had been by referencing statistics about the number of people that had changed their behavior because of the TAPP marketing campaign.
However, the success she is talking about was not based on scientific evidence-testing water before and after the campaign. No, it was based on a telephone poll. Yes, a company was hired to design a questionnaire that would measure the effectiveness of the TAPP program.
And guess what?
The same company responsible for the poll has a connection to the company hired to place the ads for the program. In other words, if the poll produced results that indicated the program was not working, the other company that buy’s the advertisements for the program would loose money. So much for independence.
And then there is this.
The group of vendors that treat the program like they own it, well…they sort of do!
When some projects are actually bid out, somehow..wink..wink no one else bids on the projects except for the original vendors. And if by some stroke of luck another local vendor over comes the fear of retribution for challenging the status quo submits a low bid, oops he loses because with the TAPP program – high bid wins!
This scheme needs to end!
The same vendors have been in place for most of the life of the program. This year it is time for a new set of vendors for the TAPP program.