Defending the Indefensible: Northbrook Park and Recreation Director Has Temper Tantrum Confirming…

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We are change agents. Our style is not for everybody but for those who embrace it (about 20% of the populace), they really like the results of the work.  We select as clients the innovators, the early adopters or those really struggling and who are committed to change with a new found passion for serving their customers and optimizing the financial performance of their facilities.

It is our belief that municipalities have certain responsibilities when issuing a Request for Proposal for services.  References should be checked, vendors’ website visited, their previous work with other clients reviewed, a short-list be limited to three and if an onsite visit to their facilities required, the fees for the potential engagement should exceed $100,000 or the vendor’s expenses reimbursed.

Recently, Northbrook Park and Recreation District in Illinois did none of that.  The Parks Director took none of the well-meaning comments to heart (click here to read April 12 letter to Ms. Molly Hamer) who in essence threw a temper tantrum with a pithy response below when their lack of mutual respect, unethical treatment of vendors, and lack of transparency was questioned.

Molly Hamer Email

Her response is very telling in that she had more interest in defending indefensible procurement practices than receiving pro bono information we volunteered regarding the financial potential of her golf courses.  Form over substance.

In reviewing the responses to the RFP, Northbrook failed to engage in any due diligence not checking references or reviewing vendor websites. They shared with vendors certain information that they declined to share with others.  They merely limited eight proposals received to a shortlist of five.  Their RFP failed to state that vendors would be required to attend, at their own expense, a 45-minute short-list interview, being given less than a seven day notice to acquire airplane tickets. They are mired in an arrogance of their own false superiority blustering to mask their inferiority and incompetence.

This illustrates why some municipalities lack the professional skills to manage efficiently a golf course.

Why single out Northbrook when poor procurement practices are pervasive through many – but not all municipalities?  Simple.  They are stewards of public funds where 11 out of 12 of their constituents don’t play golf.  When an individual like Ms. Hamer at Northbrook or Ms. Kattreh at Edina who consciously underprices senior passes fearing those self-entitled golfers may play elsewhere, they are failing to fulfill the trust with which they accepted upon becoming public employees.   As such, the egregious behavior needs to be highlighted to remind others theirs is not the path to follow.

What if these facilities were daily-fee, resorts or private clubs?  We would never to single out in a blog what we perceive to be inappropriate. Why? Daily-fee, resorts and private clubs are subject to the rules of capitalism where they prosper through their wisdom and perish through their faulty machinations.  As such, they are entitled to a far different standard of reporting than a municipal golf course that must be held to a far higher standard for the public they serve.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of municipal golf courses will continue “to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” (click here for citation).

We collectively deserve better.  That is what I think.  What do you think?  Comment below.

 

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5 comments

  1.    Reply

    What can be more disappointing, while spending time and money irresponsibly, the “leaders” continue to cry for more resources. The claim apparently, is that if they had more resources, they could meet objectives of the facility. Even more pathetic, they can’t even define their objectives. When a question comes up as to meeting the needs of our customers, they are just as clueless. The failures over the years are due the the lack of focus on meeting the needs of the customer as well addressing the ongoing needs the golf course property.

  2.    Reply

    Great article and thoughts.

  3.    Reply

    In another lifetime, working for an advertising agency, I received and replied to more than a few RFPs, some from public entities and some from private companies. It’s my opinion that the RFP process is for many organizations more smokescreen than professional procurement. They already know their “favorite” vendor, and will structure the RFP so the predetermined winner gets to win.

  4.    Reply

    You are so right on! Having been a victim of a bait and switch RFP. After being awarded the job they added 2 pages of extra things to the contract that completely changed the entire dynamic of the job. Towns do not work for the public They just try and cover their own butts, while maintaining mediocrity.

  5.    Reply

    James:

    I believe you nailed the most vexing problem with municipal and governmental agencies on the head. They simply are not good stewards of the tax payers money.