Wednesday, September 1, 2010

RA Meeting Video and Analysis

Thanks Skoorey for filming it!

Excellent analysis by Puck which I ripped from the comment section -

OMG. What a joke. First, the Chair hadn't even read the contract(s), then asks for 30 seconds to do so. 30 seconds??? But, he decides after that thorough review that Jobs for FR, i.e. FROED,--for no given reason--deserves the contract. FROED wants more money per month than CRES-RI, while CRES-RI asks for a lower monthly fee, but includes a 2.5% commission for real estate transactions. The RDA members' vote to award the contract to FROED and then negotiate the monthly fee with FROED. But they never considered awarding it to CRES-RI and then negotiating the real estate commission with them. Why solicit proposals in the first place if you can change the terms of them after the fact? Doing so means that neither proposal was set in stone and that either one could be revised after it was selected for award. That makes no sense at all.

Worse still, the Chair said the RDA doesn't even know if it has enough money to pay for the services they want FROED to provide.

And since when is one of the bidders--in the person of Ken Fiola--allowed to walk in on the award conference? Why wasn't the other bidder there as well? Were they invited?

Nothing about this theater of the absurd should surprise me, but I foolishly hoped these vaunted leaders would at least be better actors and present the illusion that this was a fair, well-considered award. Duh. My bad.

Stephanie, thank you for recording this. It's people like you, Shamrock, Lefty and a few others that keep my long-strained hope alive that someday this city's potential will stop being squandered by selfish, feeble-minded fools.


Anonymous said...

Excellent. Who doesn't love a good Puck?

Lefty said...

Damn, that is excellent anaylsis and has me scrapping my original outline for my post.

Surprisingly if money is an issue, the CRES-RI deal would save them 18k a year. That's without any renegotiating. How much land is there to really sell anyway? It seems a clause could have been added omitting any commission from land deals that began before the new contract took place. Why not negotiate a cap as the previous FROED contract had? If you capped at 15k you'd STILL be saving money.

Disappointing to be sure but not unexpected.

Great job Skoorey and great analysis Puck.

Skoorey said...

There is more to this story guys. So did you catch that FROED had a 4% commission last contract, capped at $15,000 per year? So the new people went with only a 2.5%, no mention of a cap, however.

I too thought why not negotiate with the other bidder since they were going to negotiate with Froed?

So when they took a break, I was upset that Fiola was in there. I voiced my disapproval. Kenny the chair said that it was an open meeting and anyone could attend. Even the bidders. I wonder if the other bidders were invited?

Then I said, hey, doesn't your money come from the work that FROED does? And isn't your budget all messed up because FROED didn't bring you any money? And then why did you rehire that same team that has not made any money for the RDA?

Here is Kenny's answer, get ready for it . . . . we cannot, he said, look beyond the bids. All we have to go on is what is on the papers.

32 years of FROED, nothing to show for it, and they say, hey, lets beat our heads against this wall for three more years!

BTW, what is with the fidgeting?

Skoorey said...

I posted this tonight on the HN site. More details from today. Please comment on my comments!
There were THREE citizens at the meeting, plus Michael Holtzman. The meeting was held while most people were at work, which might account for the next to no turnout.

However, when I arrived, I was asked by the Secretary of the RDA why I was there. I told her I was there to see the meeting. She said, well, you weren't at the last meeting. I said, I missed that one. I guess I wasn't aware of it. (meaning I didn't pay attention). To which she said, well, it was on the calendar. I said yes, I know. She again asked me why I was there. And I said again, I was there for the meeting. She said, 'I don't know why you would want to come to this, it is only going to be a few minutes long, and a one agenda item meeting.' I said, well, I would like to come to the public meeting.

I think that, perhaps, if anyone had called about the meeting they would have met the same sort of 'why would you want to come to this' attitude, and perhaps decided not to come. I would be interested in knowing if anyone did in fact call in and felt that they were dissuaded from coming because of this unwelcoming.

Anonymous said...

I love how Fiola was talking about the "Main Street Textiles" building in Commerce Park. Is he not aware that that Main Street Textiles has left the City many years ago???

Baffled said...

Um. Shamrock (or anyone for that matter), the Herald News article says that the RA pays FROED an ADDITIONAL $30,000 per month over the staffing contract amount. What exactly is that money for?

Also, do any paid employees (besides Fiola) actually work for FROED?

What I am getting at is that it appears that FROED does very little other than:

1. Make SBA backed loans to connected friends and businesspeople who would ordinarily have to go through a normal (and more exhaustive) process with local banks.

2. Serve as a middle-man for City owned properties when the time comes to sell them - I am assuming a commercial realtor and/or lawyer is used to broker these sales (where usually the buyer is preordained and finds us).

3. Negotiate TIF agreements for the RA in order to lessen the city's tax roll.

They do not initiate/pursue projects such as conversions of abandoned/underused commercial property that other redevelopment authorities do. Nor do they aggressively pursue businesses to relocate to Fall River. Nor do they purchase, rehab, and rent out (for income and long-term appreciation/investment purposes) commercial properties as other RA's do.

All evidence points to the fact that they are not really needed. Part 1 is accomplished by banks, part 2 is redundant and not necessary, and part 3 shouldn't be handled by FROED anyway because it involves complicated tax & revenue assumptions that Ken Fiola is not qualified to make (and shouldn't be making).

Seeing as they don't the things that they are really needed for, there is no purpose for FROED. It appears that the RA simply needs one paid employee to handle all the necessary tasks (probably in the $60-80k/year range), and FROED can be dispensed with.

Am I missing something here?

Baffled said...

Oh, and why does Ken Fiola get paid an inordinate amount (what, maybe $180k/yr) to do this job? Has anyone bothered to look at the salaries of comparable positions. Has anyone at the RA or the city ever analyzed the actual amount of work that is done by Fiola (which would probably be even less then his counterparts do in cities with less than 30,000 people do)?

Shouldn't everything about FROED's performance indicate that they are not fit to do the job?

Puck said...

The most irksome thing about this whole situation is that Fall River is desperate for economic development and has the real potential for it. Yet, the RDA members acted as though they were doing nothing more important than ordering lunch. Chairman Kenney: Geez, have you guys had a chance to look at the menu? Well, I haven’t. Can you give me 30 seconds? Then, they pick the more expensive of the two choices – even though they don't have the money to pay for it. They can’t pick the cheaper one because, even though they’re guaranteed to save 18k per year, they might have to tip them 2.5% for good service…as they have done with FROED in the past, to the tune of 4%. Nope, these guys like the soggy grilled cheese they’ve been eating for 20+ years and that’s good enough for them.

I don’t know much about CRES-RI, but one of their specialties is ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT! Another is Mill Building Revitalization. The RDA agreed that CRES-RI does indeed have the capabilities necessary to provide the required services. So why didn’t they award them the contract? One can only guess.

Here’s the CRES-RI website Decent enough style-wise, but look at what they do. Seems like everything the RDA needs, and more.

Skoorey, I also noticed Fiola’s fidgeting. His body language is very shifty. If I were an amateur psychiatrist, I’d say he was being deceptive and evasive. Or maybe he’s just uncomfortable speaking when he knows he’s being recorded for posterity…and careful scrutiny.

Further, I'm appalled at the coverage –rather the lack thereof – that this got in the news. If it weren’t for Skoorey, Shamrock and Lefty, I think this whole thing would have flown under the radar…which is exactly where Fiola likes to hide out. The HN article by Michael Holtzman briefly made it to the HN's home page Tuesday night, and is now buried in the 2nd page of “Read More.” I think this article merited a lot more staying power on page 1. Instead we got Brian Bigelow’s dazed and confused mug popping up almost every day for a couple of weeks, it seems.

Hiring a new, bright, dynamic, experienced company could have injected life into our dying city. They certainly couldn’t do any worse. But, NOOOO, the RDA kinda likes what we've got now, so why not stick with 'em. See Lefty's blog: "The Devil You Know?" Read it and weep.

Baffled said...

I hesitate to claim hijinks are afoot, but doesn't it seem odd that FROED in the past had a commission worked into the contract, then a second bid comes in with a commission and suddenly FROED's contract doesn't have one?

puck said...

Yes, Baffled. It seems very odd indeed. One might think that Fiola was given a sneak peek of the CRES-RI proposal. I wouldn't be at all surprised if FROED restores its own commission requirement during the negotiation process.

I love your assessment of the value of FROED and the RA. They cost the city way too much for the little work they do. They just add extra cost and red tape to everything in their control.

As for Fiola's outrageous salary, I think Shamrock did a post on the salaries of others in his position elsewhere and they are far lower, even in New Bedford, where they actually bring economic development to that city...most recently, Short Sea Shipping, for which Fiola claims to have submitted a proposal but there doesn't seem to be any record of that submission.

Anonymous said...

Why are you ignoring the Coogan Hummel Report story?

shamrock said...

It is very interesting/informative. Personally, I am not ignoring it, but bloggerly, I make it a habit not to blog things my fellow bloggers have already covered thoroughly.

I read Lefty's post, I watched the video, both aided me in making my decision on who to vote for.

Curious said...

Shamrock, are you voting along the following lines, like me?

1. Coogan - I think the facts speak that he can't be trusted. Also, if this guy is supposedly a full-time fire fighter, union leader, construction company owner/worker, how can he possibly have time to do a good job at being a state legislator on top of that? Obviously he misses details, either purposely or inadvertently. Either way, not worth a vote.

2. Mitchell - A retread. Lackluster Mayor. Ethically challenged. My feelings are do we really need another connected person who demonstrated as mayor that his number one interest is himself? He did nothing to move the city forward the first time, why would now be any different?

3. Rodrigues - Say what you want about his long tenure of service in the House, I find him to be a typical entrenched politician who would continue to do very little for the area (like his crony Menard). A classic example of why term limits should be enacted. Full-on hypocrite based on the NH liquor store incident, which I do not consider trivial, seeing as he was complicit in raising state sales taxes and applying them an alcohol, he should have known better.

4. Lawless - My choice, not necessarily by process of elimination, he just seems the cleanest candidate. Based on what I have read, he seems to do a decent job in Somerset, and I don't buy what some others have said (that he is not from Fall River, so city residents should only vote for a Fall River resident). My views are that whatever is good for Fall River is good for Somerset or Westport - that we are all intertwined economically and socially. Residence in one particular place so long as it is within the district (Mike Lund, are you listening?) should not disqualify a person.

Your thoughts? (Or Lefty's - or anyone else's for that matter)...

Lefty said...


I would probably be a touch more diplomatic with my reasoning, but all in all, you nailed my thoughts on the candidates. I will say with Coogan I'm more concerned with his close ties to our current Mayor then him being overextended. As for his trustworthiness, well I'm open on that one, but he needs to come forward and put my concerns to rest. With Lorne Lawless, I have heard of few times that he has a bit of an ego problem and point out that he lost his selectmen seat, which makes me wonder how much support he'll see from town voters.

Of course as a Republican I won't be voting for any of them.

Anonymous said...

If Coogan were elected he would no longer be a firefighter, or union president. Not an issue.