Jefferson Parish Citizens for Good Government: Campaign Contribution Report for the May 14, 2014, Parish Council Meeting

Supporters of Good Government:

The Jefferson Parish Council will meet this Wednesday, May 14th at 10 a.m. on the East Bank in the Yenni Building. Citizens for Good Government will once again present summary information from our Campaign Contribution Table shown below.

With campaign contributions of $66,600, Councilman Chris Roberts was once again the councilman with the largest amount of campaign contributions, while Councilman Mark Spears was in second place with $53,808 in campaign contributions. The total campaign contributions made to all seven councilmembers during the past four years by contractors and subcontractors on whom they are scheduled to vote at the April 9th council meeting was $259,547.

Click to obtain scalable PDF
Click to obtain scalable PDF

At the council meeting Citizens for Good Government will be taking issue with the use by our government of the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, rather than the sealed bid process, for grass cutting contracts. We believe that sealed bids should be used, since this process REQUIRES contracts to be awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, while the winners of RFP contracts are selected by the councilmembers, and there is NO requirement for them to select the highest-ranked firm by the evaluation committee or the firm offering the lowest price. Continue reading “Jefferson Parish Citizens for Good Government: Campaign Contribution Report for the May 14, 2014, Parish Council Meeting”

Wednesday Omnibus: Jefferson Parish Pay to Play gets scrutiny, Miller reviewing offshore drilling regs plus the Rocks, Lucky Coin and more

I’ve been having some technical difficulties but finally knocked those out yesterday afternoon. I’ve also spent some time lately improving technical back office issues here at Slabbed including a better security perimeter as Slabbed has been subject to at least one denial of service attack in the past 6 weeks. The streets of information dissemination aka the news biz are mean indeed.

That has worked out OK though since the local news cycle has been slow but today the dam has broken and we have links galore.  In the interest of time I’ll do this in one post so let’s start with Margie Seemann of the Jefferson Parish Citizens for Good Government.  Margie, her sister and the gang at CFGG are true public servants and today the issues with campaign finance so often highlighted by CFGG go front and center in the NOLA.com series Louisiana Purchased. Let’s start with a video interview of Margie:

Companies seeking no-bid contracts dominate Jefferson Parish campaign contribution list ~ Manuel Torres

Campaign finance transparency not enough to fix Jefferson Parish’s contracting problems, groups say ~ Manuel Torres

Who to believe? The likes of Chris Roberts and Mark Spears or our own lying eyes? It’s not even close folks.

Next up in that pesky FBI investigation into former St Charles DA Harry Morel, a story Slabbed pioneered beginning over 2 years ago. Continue reading “Wednesday Omnibus: Jefferson Parish Pay to Play gets scrutiny, Miller reviewing offshore drilling regs plus the Rocks, Lucky Coin and more”

Jefferson Parish Council Jackassery Miscellany: Mini-me and Zahn lead the way with Noodles on top

One thing I’ve learned is you don’t mess with the M&M sisters or the CFGG and the reason for that is simple: The CFGG’s message is pure, without hint of hidden agenda.  Councilman Ben Zahn will learn that in time but first:

Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn disagrees with citizen group ~ Adriane Quinlin

The headline was charitable because the story makes it clear that Zahn was more of a garden variety ass than anything IMHO.

Next up the gang is taking illegal straw polls as Slabbed will continue to assume there is double dealing galore in the shadows of these specious public hospital “negotiations”.

Jefferson hospital lease suitors to present in public; secretive conduct called into question ~ Ben Myers

Of course, when I write posts about the Jefferson Parish Council and Chris Roberts in particular, I generally get the warm fuzzies thinking about the pictures.  :-)

Good Government Saturday: CFGG Celebrates a Victory for Good Government and No-bid Contracts

Supporters of Good Government:

In response to the urging of Citizens for Good Government and to Councilman Chris Roberts’ prodding of Jefferson Parish Attorney Deborah Foshee at the June 26th council meeting, Ms. Foshee agreed to give the public access to the scores and rankings of contractors by the Parish Evaluation Committees, prior to the selection by the council of contract awardees for no-bid parish contracts. And President John Young also stated that he is in full support of this action. CFGG considers this an important victory for good government in Jefferson Parish.

CFGG has long expressed our serious concern with the fact that councilmembers are permitted to award no-bid contracts to firms which are significant donors to their campaigns and from whom they have even solicited campaign contributions. It is particularly disturbing to us that the council is generally permitted to disregard the rankings by the Evaluation Committees and to select any firm that they so desire for these no-bid contracts.

Although the well-researched, well-documented report by the Bureau of Governmental Research entitled, “Reforming Jefferson Parish’s Unusual Approach to Service Contracting,” recommends awarding these no-bid contracts to the top-ranked firms by the Evaluation Committees, the council apparently has no intention of giving up its power to select the no-bid contract winners. Citizens for Good Government came to the conclusion that if we could obtain the scores and rankings of firms which are in contention for Jefferson Parish no-bid contracts BEFORE the council selected the winners, we could make our own recommendations of the top-ranked firms by the Evaluation Committees PRIOR to the council vote, and, if practical, we could also provide the campaign contributions made to the councilmembers by the companies competing for the contracts, since we have this information on campaign contributions in our files.

Therefore, at the June 12th council meeting Margie Seemann urged the council to pass an ordinance requiring information on the scores and rankings of the companies which are in contention for no-bid contracts to be made available as additional attachments to the contract award resolutions on each council agenda, which is available online a week before each council meeting. Margie said that this would permit watchdog groups like Citizens for Good Government to make recommendations on the award of the contracts prior to the selection of the winners and to monitor the actions of the council in selecting the contract winners.
Continue reading “Good Government Saturday: CFGG Celebrates a Victory for Good Government and No-bid Contracts”

Good Government Monday: Jefferson Parish Citizens for Good Government

Supporters of Good Government:

The Jefferson Parish Council will meet this Wednesday, June 25th at 10 a.m. on the East Bank at the Yenni Building. Citizens for Good Government will again present summary information from our Campaign Contribution Table shown below. Total campaign contributions of $449,266 were made during the past four years to our councilmen by contractors and subcontractors on whom the councilmembers are scheduled to vote at the June 25th council meeting.

CFGG Campaign Finance Graphic 6-26-13 meeting

Because consideration of a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP) reform ordinance was deferred several months ago until September, and there was opposition to some of the reforms in the ordinance, Citizens for Good Government is concerned that none of the needed reforms to the contracting process will ever be implemented. CFGG has therefore been waging a campaign in recent months to pressure the Jefferson Parish Council to at least start the process of implementing reforms in the contracting process by passing an ordinance to reinstate price in the evaluation and ranking of Request for Proposal (RFP) submittals. Because published reports indicated that this reform was supported by both the council and by the administration, CFGG felt that implementation of this reform should be possible. Continue reading “Good Government Monday: Jefferson Parish Citizens for Good Government”

My general thoughts on the defeat of those dedicated Jefferson Parish property tax renewals

I see a lot of buck passing and finger pointing by the Parish Council and Team Young on the issue of the failure Saturday of a couple of water and sewer related property tax renewals, some of which holds a bit more than a kernel of truth.  The dropping of former finance director Gwen Bolotte’s name for instance highlights the fact Team Young is still building institutional knowledge. The lack of institutional knowledge however is not the reason the voters rejected these taxes last weekend though IMHO.

Bottom line was I could tell yesterday people were searching for answers and by people I mean in officialdom and the Google gods lead them here despite the fact I have not written a thing about the property tax renewals. Anyway the banter with Drew Broach over at NOLA.com is enlightening for those not well versed on this issue:

Manuel Torres and Sarah Tan over at NOLA.com have done a bang up job covering the defeat of the taxes and aftermath, including today’s emergency meeting of the Parish Council to find ways to plug the $20MM plus hole the tax defeats created in the Parish’s budget.  At this point I would like to add that when officialdom in Jefferson Parish pats themselves on the back they invariably point out that Parish Government is a $500,000,000 a year enterprise thus using that number the lost revenue amounts to 4% of the annual budget so despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth the hit is not catastrophic. Continue reading “My general thoughts on the defeat of those dedicated Jefferson Parish property tax renewals”

Local good government groups in the news: Say what?!!!

Jefferson Parish activists demand action on proposed contracting reforms ~ Manuel Torres

Welp folks, it looks like Councilman at large/River Birch Landfill errand boy Chris “Mini-me” Roberts has not had enough 5am potty visits to fully learn about the procurement reforms recommended month ago by the BGR. Look no further than the Performing Arts Center debacle to understand the need of getting corrupt politicians outta the government procurement biz.

LANA NOONAN: Expenditure of public funds should be discussed openly ~ Letter to the editor

It appears the editorial police at the Sun Herald are now allowing mention of the Bay Tech Building swindle on their pages, which is progress.  While Slabbed never has a problem properly attributing third party sources certain old line media outlets such as the Sun Herald’s editorial page folks can’t seem to tell certain stories without weaving in some tall tales as well. The Seacoast Echo and Bay Tech? Now that’s funny. 😆

Citizens for Good Government issues statement on yesterday’s Jefferson Parish Council meeting

Supporters of Good Government:

Some of the issues which were brought up in speeches by Citizens for Good Government at the October 24th Jefferson Parish Council meeting were covered in an article on the Times-Picayune’s nola.com website by reporter Manuel Torres.

CFGG Chairman Margaret Baird talked about recommended changes in the way that routine engineering contracts, which cost less than $300,000, are awarded by the Jefferson Parish Council. She suggested that the council give serious consideration to the recommendations for reforming this process specified in the Bureau of Governmental Research’s recently-released report, “Reforming Jefferson Parish’s Unusual Approach to Service Contracting.” Margaret pointed out that the BGR recommendations have been ignored by the council.

Vice-Chairman Margie Seemann spoke about the newly-implemented Solicitation Affidavits, which require contractors to list the names of all elected officials who have solicited a campaign contribution from them by telephone or by personal contact during the previous two years and to list the approximate date of such solicitation.

Margie commended the councilmen for passing this ordinance, but she pointed out that the failure of the ordinance to require the Solicitation Affidavit to list the names of elected officials FOR WHOM solicitations for campaign contributions were made for them by others, such as their staff, a relative, or a campaign worker, was problematic. She suggested the passage of a new ordinance which would require the Solicitation Affidavit filed by the contractors to not only list the names of elected officials who solicited contributions from them, but to also list the names of elected officials for whom solicitations were made for them by others. Unfortunately, all of the councilmen who responded to the Times-Picayune reporter were opposed to our suggestion. Continue reading “Citizens for Good Government issues statement on yesterday’s Jefferson Parish Council meeting”

Citizens for Good Government continues to call for procurement reform in Jefferson Parish

As has been our practice at recent council meetings, at the October 10th Jefferson Parish Council meeting Citizens for Good Government took the opportunity to call attention to resolutions for which we believe that implementation of the recommendations in the Bureau of Governmental Research’s report on reforming service contracting could be beneficial to the citizens of Jefferson Parish. The resolutions on which we focused were those for which the council was scheduled to select the winners of non-bid contracts which used the Request for Proposal, or RFP, process and the Statement of Qualifications, or SOQ, process for non-engineering professional services contracts.

We called attention to these resolutions because we strongly support BGR’s recommendation that firms should be selected for non-bid contracts because they rank the highest in an evaluation committee’s scoring of relevant, weighted, clearly articulated criteria. We believe that the role of the council should be limited to approving or rejecting the evaluation committee’s recommended contractor or ending the procurement.

CFGG believes that contractor selection should be based strictly on getting the best combination of quality and price for the citizens of Jefferson, as recommended by BGR. In speaking at council meetings, we have repeatedly emphasized how troubling it is to us that councilmembers are permitted to select contractors for these non-bid contracts who were significant donors to their campaigns, and we believe that this needs to change. Continue reading “Citizens for Good Government continues to call for procurement reform in Jefferson Parish”

In light of the Broussard Era bribery schemes coming to light this email blast from CFGG is timely.

Supporters of Good Government:

At the September 19th Jefferson Parish Council meeting, Citizens for Good Government again spoke about the reforms to service contracting recommended by the Bureau of Governmental Research, which we intend to continue speaking about until the Jefferson Parish Council gives serious consideration to these recommendations which are, after all, based on best practices research.

The following is an excerpt from the speech by CFGG Vice-Chairman Margie Seemann at the end of the Council meeting:

“Some issues are of such extreme importance to Citizens for Good Government that we devote an enormous amount of time and effort to call attention to these issues, and we attempt to bring pressure on the council and our government to take action on these issues.“
Continue reading “In light of the Broussard Era bribery schemes coming to light this email blast from CFGG is timely.”