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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oakland Raiders Stadium study: competitive bid and minority involvement missing?

The Oakland Tribune article on the possibility of a shared football stadium between the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers is certainly exciting news, but lost in the hope that the Raiders get a new stadium - 49ers or not - is any attention to the process behind getting to that point.

In this case, on Friday February 19th the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority is considering a proposal from CSL International, an event planning and stadium development consulting firm to write a feasibility study of a stadium for the Oakland Raiders.

Great, but where's the competitive bid for the consultant? And what about minority involvement in the study's development? Now that the Oakland Raiders have finally succeeded in getting the City of Oakland to see that it needs a new stadium, its important to make sure the Oakland Coliseum Authority doesn't screw it up.

Where public monies are used, sole-source consultant contracts are frowned on and have been for decades. The reasons are simple: such contracts are looked at as political gifts or favors to a friend unless there's solid evidence that that company, and only that firm, can do the job required.

In the case of a feasibility study for a stadium for the Oakland Raiders that may include the San Francisco 49ers, there's no evidence or source that can confirm that the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority conducted a competitive bid process, out of which CSL International emerged.

The contract is reportedly for $125,000, not below $5,000, which is the California legal level at which a contract must be below if it is "sole-sourced" or without a competitive bid process. And as Oakland is a charter city, this process goes against the City of Oakland's own process and it's "hire Oakland first" mandate for the use of Oakland's public funds for contracts.

As one who's done feasibility study work, this blogger can assert that what the Oakland Coliseum is looking for does not take a rocket scientist to do. (And this blogger has no interest in being considered for any City of Oakland contract.)

These questions must be answered by the Coliseum Authority:

1) which firms out there in Oakland and in the San Francisco Bay Area can do this work?

2) Where they contacted in writing by the Coliseum Authority's Executive Director?

3) What was their written response?

4) Why was CSL International selected out of the competitive bid process?

5) Does CSL International have people of color on its staff?

If all of these questions can be answered, then CSL International was selected fairly. But if not and it appears that CSL International was chosen out of an informal and process controlled by the current Coliseum executive director, their proposal should be rejected. The Coliseum executive director should be made to start the process over, the right way.

The Oakland Raiders deserve a new stadium. But there's no hurry; the process toward a new facility should be done in an inclusive, not secretive, way.

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