By Mary Louise Pigott
Published September 19, 2009
In a letter to the editor of the Spectator this morning, I argue that the request for proposal process that put the Connaught as the city's number one priority for Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program funding, should have been re-examined by council given the revelations about the Connaught consortium's tax arrears.
I wrote the letter Thursday before the additional revelations about Ted Valeri's law suit against the city.
It appears the majority of council were concerned about the legal ramifications of singling out the Connaught proposal, and the risk of losing funding for the other proposals on the list.
Councillors Ferguson, Mitchell, Clark, and Pasuta, however, were not swayed by these fears. Councillor Bratina had similar concerns, but chose to abstain.
The RFP process puts the "strength and background" of the bidders as the number one criterion for assessing proposals, accounting for 30 percent of the scoring.
Staff was aware of the tax arrears and the Valeri lawsuit when they assessed the Connaught proposal, yet unbelievably gave these bidders top marks.
Councillor Sam Merulla has stated that "this was a bureaucratic decision with no political interference until now." As I stated in my letter, this is disingenuous. The process became politicized when staff decided not to inform council about the tax arrears and the lawsuit, and it was staff who placed the other proposals at risk when they decided to put the Connaught at the top of the list.
In addition to their concerns over the loss of downtown hotel space, Clark, Mitchell, Pasuta, and Ferguson rightly recognized that these decisions "tainted" the entire RFP process, and voted accordingly. Hats off to them.
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