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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

As the Golf Cart Turns... and turns... and turns

Just to remind you where the golf cart soap opera last left off, the City Council earlier this year had overturned the regular RFP process for awarding contracts, insisting that the contract be given to JH Kishi Co instead of the actual RFP process winner, Ready Golf.

Kishi had had the golf cart contract for City courses for decades, and their alleged mismanagement of said contract was the subject of a recent audit by the City Controller. The audit found a $32k mistake from 2006-08, but the real number is likely far larger because no one at Kishi or Rec and Parks kept good records. (feigning shock)  And what happened before 2006? Rumored numbers for the alleged underpayment run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On that ugly day in City Council, JH Kishi had lobbyists and lawyers pounding on City Council members to overturn the normal process. During the City Council debate, Dennis Zine admitted that he had never been lobbied harder by anyone in his life, and then shamelessly turned around and voted to overturn the RFP process recommendation anyway. It was a truly sordid display of what relationships and lobbyists can buy you in City Hall.

If you have the opportunity to go back and watch a recording of that session of City Council, you should really do it. It's utterly shocking to listen to the City Council bash Recreation and Parks for correctly following City process, and then shaming them for not simply giving Kishi back the contract. Richard Alarcon's pathetic act of shock and dismay is particularly disgusting and goes on way too long.

And now, today's episode of As the Golf Cart Turns from DZahn at the LA Times:

[LA Times] Parks officials want to take over golf cart rentals

It's the latest twist in a yearslong bidding process that has hop-scotched among the incumbent concessionaire, another company and labor interests that want union employees to run the operation.

Patrons traverse the Griffith Park golf course in rented golf carts. The city has been trying for seven years to award a new golf cart concession contract, and now parks officials are proposing to run the operation themselves. (Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times / August 29, 2010)

By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times

August 31, 2010 Squeezed by a continuing budget crisis, Los Angeles officials scaled back city services over the past year, reducing library hours, laying off child-care workers and taking steps to turn over several public parking garages to private companies. Yet there's one area where the city suddenly appears determined to branch out, even in a grim economy: golf carts. After trying for seven years to award a new contract for a golf cart concession at the city's seven 18-hole courses, officials with the Department of Recreation and Parks have decided they are capable of renting out the electric vehicles themselves.

The proposal came as a surprise, even for a city whose bidding processes are known for being politically charged and glacial in pace. Parks officials have recommended that the five-member Recreation and Parks Commission vote Wednesday to terminate a contract with a company that has performed the work for at least 35 years and drop plans — two years in the making — to award the concession to Encino-based Ready Golf. "I would recommend that someone put a bullet in their head before they try to get a contract with the city," Ready Golf President Michael Bernback said after learning of the new proposal. "Nothing moves forward. Nothing gets accomplished."

The parks commission first went out to bid for a golf cart contract in 2003 but repeatedly found itself incapable of picking a winner. On its third try, the panel, whose members are appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, recommended Ready Golf after consulting with Southern California municipal golf officials. The proposed contract was bottled up in Villaraigosa's office for more than a year as the mayor's top lawyer fielded complaints from labor leaders who wanted city workers to do the job. When it finally came up for a vote, the City Council rejected the deal and recommended that the incumbent concessionaire, J.H. Kishi Co., receive a five-year contract.

Read the rest at the LA Times