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Mayor’s Office Recommends Highest Bidders, Campaign Donors for Lobbyist Contracts…Again

Posted on September 11, 2016

Mayor’s Office Recommends Highest Bidders, Campaign Donors for Lobbyist Contracts…Again

At the City Commission meeting this Wednesday, Mayor Andrew Gillum’s office is recommending the highest bidder receive the general state lobbying contract and the city electric utility lobbying contract.

Last year the Mayor’s office recommended, and the City Commission approved, a one year extension for the lobbyist contracts that were awarded in 2012. During the meeting some members of the City Commission verbalized concern about the process.TR’s article on the selection can be read here.

The recommended vendor for the city lobbying contract for the next two years is Ronald Book P.A., which bested the Gunster law firm on a point system, but was higher in price. One of the point categories which helped Book P.A. win the point system was minority participation.

None of the documents provided by the Mayor’s office details the lobbying team proposed for use by Book P.A., but based on previous information, the minority component of the proposal is Sean Pittman, owner of the Pittman Law Group. Mr. Pittman has been a part of the city lobbying team for at least the last ten years.

It has been documented that Mr. Pittman is a close friend to Mayor Gillum and the Mayor’s office staff. Mr. Pittman has also traveled with Mr. Gillum, and provided financial support for a Mayoral event.

In addition, Mr. Pittman was identified by the Tallahassee Democrat as an investor in the Edison Restaurant, which is owned by the former campaign treasurer to Mayor Gillum.

And finally, both Mr. Book and Mr. Pittman have donated thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to current City Commissioners through a number of different businesses. The most recent donations were made to City Commissioners Curtis Richardson and Scott Maddox during the most recent primary election cycle.

The Mayor’s office is also recommending the lobbying contract for city utility issues be awarded to the highest bidder.

William Peebles P.A., who has held the contract for at least the last eight years, won in a point system over Ballard Partners, however Ballard Partners had the lower price. Ballard Partners is considered to be one be of the most powerful and successful lobbyist groups in the state of Florida.

Campaign records show that Mr. Peebles has donated thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to current City Commissioners. The most recent donations were made to City Commissioners Curtis Richardson and Scott Maddox during the most recent primary election cycle.

Records show that Ballard Partners donated a $1,000 to Mayor Andrew Gillum in 2014 and $500 to City Commissioner Scott Maddox in 2012.

24 Responses to Mayor’s Office Recommends Highest Bidders, Campaign Donors for Lobbyist Contracts…Again

  1. Stanley Sims Reply

    September 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    This article is very offensive to me as a minority…., truly written in a “Trump” style manner!!! Whatever point you were trying to make was truly lost in the racist overtones. Republicans just don’t get it…. Black Lives Matter!

    The author of this article clearly wanted the readers to know how Blacks are getting out of control. We have a BLACK mayor, a Black Vendor (Lobbyist) who was awarded the contract because he was Black, works with another well known Black businessman. Wow!!! That’s just too much BLACKNESS.

    Hey, I have an idea… Lets Make America Great Again!!!

    Republicans just don’t get it ????

    • Franklin Thompson Reply

      September 12, 2016 at 9:31 am

      The information was taken from city records. Argue with them.

      • Stanley Sims Reply

        September 12, 2016 at 11:19 am

        Yes it was…. Why is BLACK corruption worst than WHITE corruption??? JAckie Pons gets a free pass with Tallahassee Reports, and allot of other white guys as well. Just keeping it real!

        • Preston Scott

          Preston Scott Reply

          September 13, 2016 at 2:59 pm

          Free pass from what exactly? An anonymous notebook which has led to nothing…no charges…nothing. BTW: There is no such thing as “black” or “white” corruption. There is corruption. You really ought to take some time and read through the archives of TR and look at the documented stories questioning the ethical conduct of local leaders. Then, write an apology because your version of “keeping it real” is baseless rhetoric and I know you are an intelligent guy. You are better than what you have been posting.

        • DavidB Reply

          September 16, 2016 at 2:28 pm

          List them, Stan.

        • DavidB Reply

          September 16, 2016 at 2:29 pm

          You can start with the Democrats associated with City Management.

    • Chad Reply

      September 12, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Playing the “black lives matter” card in rebuttal to an expose of a sweetheart deal between city leaders and rich donors seeking political favors trivializes the whole BLM movement. You do your cause a disservice.

    • DavidB Reply

      September 16, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      The only “Blackness” in this articles was to highlight how “… Ronald Book P.A., which bested the Gunster law firm on a point system, but was higher in price.”

      YOU took racist slant all on your own. YOU stated “We have a BLACK mayor, a Black Vendor (Lobbyist) who was awarded the contract because he was Black, works with another well known Black businessman. Wow!!! That’s just too much BLACKNESS.” There’s more in your three lines then ANYWHERE in the article above.

      Your full of it Stan. Your part of the problem, not the solution. You shout “FIRE” in a crowded theater. Chip on your shoulder there, Stanley?

  2. Tim Riordan Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 5:25 am

    More of the same…nepotism appears to be the shining path of the large and in charge clique in local government. In lieu of past performance and all the the shady deals it is time to wipe the sale clean.

  3. Hope Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Judging from the way the mayor handled our utility crisis recently his recommendation carries no credibility. Coupled with the obvious cronyism and special interests in play regarding his cohort, Sean Pittman, the mayor’s recommendation comes down to a self serving one and not what is in the best interest for the citizenry. I listened to a presentation by Mr. Pittman in city hall regarding the lobbying and it was pitiful presentation (no pun intended).

    If the mayor was truly for the people and not for his interests, his donors interests, and Mr. Pittman’s interests the contracts should be awarded to the lower bidders. Citizens should speak at the next meeting to register their concerns of self serving and special interests being bought at the cost of the citizens interests. Enough!

  4. Daryl McLaughlin Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Spending other people’s money seems to pose few problems for the Gillum crowd. One might ask, why is it illegal for state government to hire private lobbyists but legal for local governments? Suggest our leaders explore an in house lobbyist rather than outsourcing these tasks to campaign cronies.

  5. Frances Powell Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 8:50 am

    WHAT! He can do no wrong! The ministers said so.

  6. Mike Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I find it astounding that someone can draw any possible inference of “racism” in this article, there aren’t any overt, repetitive descriptions of skin color, nor does that matter.
    To say a certain class of peoples’ lives “matter” because of their skin color is the very defintion of racism. As if anyone can help the color of skin they are born with – no person has any control over that. They do, however, have control over what kind of person they wish to be on the inside.

    What matters is that it’s inarguable that there’s a pattern of this city government to award contracts to friends and donors, despite other competitive, lower-priced bids from other firms.
    If the city has documented, quantifiable evidence as justification for selecting higher-priced bids from friends and donors, then I’m fine with the decisions, but let’s see the evidence first. Otherwise, it appears there is cronyism here yet again. No surprise, this city government won’t change until the citizens change it at the ballot box.

  7. BEC Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Let’s not forget the private dinner at the chamber conference hosted by Sean Pittman and Adam Corey. The Mayor and his staff were prominently in attendance.

  8. Tyler D Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Poor Stanley Sims – the best he can do is pull out the bias doctrine, rather than deal with facts. Sorry Mr. Sims, regardless of one’s personal beliefs or race, the truth is the truth.

  9. Russell Price Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    The lobbying contracts are the only contracts that Budget Hawks are aware of where city vendors are evaluated by a committee chaired by the mayor’s aide and then assuming that the recommended lobbyists are approved by the commission,the contracts are then administered by the mayor. We are waiting for confirmation on this.

    If confirmed, we think that this violates the spirit of the city charter at a minimum. The charter gives all authority to the city manager since “it is the city manager’s responsibility to supervise departments and divisions and to exercise control and direct supervision over all departments and divisions of the municipal government under this Charter.”

    https://www.municode.com/library/fl/tallahassee/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTICHLATA_SPACH_CIMA

    We urge all those who desire a better local government to join Budget Hawks at the commission meeting on Wednesday afternoon beginning at 430 pm 9/14. “If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

  10. JJ Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    When I grow up I want to be a friend of the mayor’s, it seems to be a very profitable business.

  11. Linda Reply

    September 12, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Pay to play how ever you see it

  12. Preston Scott

    Preston Scott Reply

    September 13, 2016 at 5:23 am

    If we want to realize the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we will no longer assign “points” to one’s color whether it be black, white, or any other. We will judge people and businesses on the merits and quality of work, along with their bid (remember this is taxpayer money) and let the chips fall where they may. The comment above is not “keeping it real” – it is dropping the race card where it does not exist. “Republicans” are not even part of the article. I’d like to recommend Mr. Sims take some time and look up Project 21 and make a call or two to members. As others point out – Whether Adam Corey (white) or Sean Pittman (black) – anyone connected to Andrew Gillum are insiders who get sweetheart deals others do not get. This article is the latest evidence directly from the records of City Hall.

  13. Elaine Atwoid Reply

    September 13, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Doesn’t the city have purchasing/procurement laws to follow? Bottom line, the City has trained purchasing staff for the purchase of services such as lobbying, by conducting open and competivetive purchasing processes like RFPs or ITNs to select vendors/contractors in a fair and unbiased method. That’s what needs to be looked at. If the Mayor has discretion in the final decision and he used that discretion appropriately, well, the comments are just speculation. If done in the sprirt of best business practices following the city procurement guidelines, the decision is Ok. The firms not selected should have rights and an ability to legally question the decision through a formal protest. If that’s not part of the procurement process, it’s time to review the City’s guidelines and rules for purchasing.

  14. Thomas C. Hooker Reply

    September 13, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Thanks TR fro reporting what the local paper, news stations, and local public radio will not report.

    I don’t know why anyone would be surprised at the good old boy system here. After the past newspaper editor openly fawned over Scott Maddox, Mayor Marks, Anita Favors, Gillum, and ran cover for them all this should be no surprise. The degrees of separation are almost nil. As an example, Gerald Ensley’s daughter has worked for Sean Pittman’s wife for years at COCA (a favorite recipient of tax dollars). Why would the local paper be critical? Why would they even make an efforts?

  15. Dean Reply

    September 14, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Please, someone correct me if I’m wrong….if the approval of these contracts are commission approved, should the Mayor and commissioners NOT vote (abstain) for reasons of personal involvement if they personally/campaigns have received donations from said parties?

    Would this not create the air of favoritism, which would be an ethics violation?

  16. Cassidy Reply

    September 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    The first comment by Mr. Sims was to deflect the real subject matter here. Don’t fall for it or comment on his response, but excellent punctuation he does have.

  17. Joe Moye Reply

    September 19, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    One only needs to look at investigative journalism, such as this, which is no longer being printed in the Democrat to see why their subscriptions are plummeting.

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