Library Lot Forecast: Cloudy

As we recently reviewed, the RFP Advisory Committee met without fanfare on November 23, 2010 to hear a presentation from the consultant, David Di Rita of the Roxbury Group.  (The Roxbury report is available on the city RFP web page.)  After a fair amount of scrambling, notes from that meeting were finally posted on the web page as well.

The notes indicated that only three committee members were present: Chair Stephen Rapundalo, Councilmember Margie Teall, and DDA member John Splitt.  City administrator Roger Fraser was also present.  The notes indicate that Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor DDA, was present, but apparently she was actually out of town.

Here is what transpired, according to the notes:

Mr. Di Rita proposed that the next steps include finalizing the Report and developing a draft Memo of Under-standing with Valiant that could serve as the basis for further discussions and negotiations between the City and Valiant over issues like site planning and financials.

J. Splitt moved that the Committee accept the Consultant’s Report and direct staff to work with Valiant on a letter of intent that could be presented to Council, along with the recommendation of the advisory committee. Motion was seconded by M. Teall. Splitt, Teall and Rapundalo voted in the affirmative. Motion passed unanimously.

Actions Taken: 1. Acceptance of Consultant’s Report 2. Directed staff and Consultant to draft a Letter of Intent or Memo of Understanding between the City of Ann Arbor and Valiant for review by the Advisory Committee and City Council.

Recently, a member of a DDA committee asked Susan Pollay what the progress with the Library Lot project was.  She replied that a letter of intent was being developed and would be on the City Council agenda in a few weeks.  After an inquiry from me to CM Rapundalo, a meeting of the RFP Advisory Committee appeared on the web page.  (The meeting is 9:00 a.m., March 3, 2011, 4th Floor, City Hall.)

But what about that letter of intent, or memorandum of understanding?

Considering the difficulty we had in obtaining information about the earlier meeting, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the City on January 27.  It requested, in part:

  • Administrative emails and memos tasking staff to prepare documents based on votes taken at that meeting. Specifically, emails and memos directing staff to prepare or participate in a letter of intent or memorandum of understanding with Valiant Partners, LLC. “Administrative” should include any city staff delegated to manage this task, as well as City Administrator Fraser. Emails and memos from the Chair of that committee, Councilman Stephen Rapundalo in re preparation of documents based on votes taken at that meeting are also requested.
  • Correspondence dating after November 23, 2010 with the consultant, The Roxbury Group (cf. RFP #758) regarding a letter of intent (with respect to RFP 743) or memorandum of understanding, and the preparation by or participation by the consultant in negotiations with Valiant Partners LLC.
  • Documents prepared by The Roxbury Group and transmitted to the City after November 23, 2010. The report, “LIBRARY LOT PROPOSALS – RFP #743 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE CITY OF ANN ARBOR” and its appendices (attachments) are specifically *excluded* from this request.
  • Any letter of intent or memorandum of understanding between the City and Valiant Partners LLC. If a final, approved version of such a letter or memorandum is not available, please supply the most recent draft version. This request specifically *excludes* the draft form Letter of Intent supplied by The Roxbury Group as Attachment C of their report dated November 23, 2010.

The City opted to add a 10-day extension to the 5 days in which they are ordinarily supposed to respond to a FOIA “because of the time needed to process your request”.

The much-anticipated response finally arrived on February 17, 2011.  It was simply this:

Your request for records related to the November 23, 2010 Advisory Committee meeting held regarding RFP 743 is denied, as the City does not possess any records that respond to your request.

NONE?  Are we to assume that the consultant walked away with a verbal commitment from the committee and nothing else?  No directives, no discussion?  Or maybe he simply hasn’t gotten started with the work?

RFP advisory committee meetings are not bound entirely by the Open Meetings Act, but the product should be available to see what the Council will be asked to respond to.  I hope that it is not intended that this will be landed on their agenda for March 7, without any chance for the public to see what entanglements with Valiant are being proposed.

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