Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ravenstahl Right On No-Bid Public Contracting, Which Makes LAZ's Curious Exclusivity Wrong

Mayor Ravenstahl's veto of city council's engagement of a solicitor for council the process by which city council arranged a proposed contract with a dedicated legal advisor seems sound. Council deserves and needs independent legal services, but a public body should conduct an open process when expending public funds.

Citizens would benefit greatly were Mayor Ravenstahl and County Executive Onorato to remove the shadiness from city and county contracting.

A good place to start would be the proposed parking privatization transaction. Why is LAZ Parking the sole current invited proponent? Is there a legal basis for short-circuiting customary public contracting procedures for an exceptionally large, complex and durable deal? Is there a reasoned justification for failing to pursue other offers?

Infinonytune: Love The One You're With, Crosby, Stills and Nash
Infinonytune: Right Place, Wrong Time, Dr. John


Anonymous said...

It was interesting that the Good Reverend Burgess was the one throwing the stones, he said the contract should have gone through a new process after Council decided to have the lawyer in their offices and not the Solicitor Office. Then why would he ever think about giving LAZ a new contract without re-bidding it? I'll tell you why, because the people behind the big deals have big dollars. You can't have it both ways Reverend. People in glass houses...

Anonymous said...

It was more interesting that Peduto and Sheilds sought to hire Barbara Ernsberger - a highly connected political committee woman from Shadyside. Politics? Shady? No-bid hypocrisy? YOU BETCHA!

Anonymous said...

Barbara Ernsberger retired from the Democratic Committee when she ran for judge awhile back.

Peduto and Shields did not seek to hire Ernsberger as the Council attorney but rather an associate at her firm, a highly regarded attorney, who was formerly an assistant city solicitor.

Should a well-qualified attorney not be given the position because she is now affiliated with a firm where one of the several partners happened to, at one-time, be active in politics? If that is the case then virtually every law firm in town should be barred from having any business relationship with the city of Pittsburgh.

How about all of the law firms whose partners, associates or political action committees donate to the mayor? Shouldn’t those firms be completely barred from city contracts?

If you would have listened closely to today’s council session, you would have learned that there was a competitive process with 14 applicants for the job.

The real irony is all of the other pieces of legislation that were introduced at the same time, especially the one that gave the mayor a blank check for a $150,000 contract with a law firm that he didn’t even name. I am sure that there is strict compliance with the letter of the law there.

Council needs to learn how to get tough with the mayor until he learns how to play fair.

Infinonymous said...

As was reported, council's preference was Shannon Barkley, whose association with the Ernsberger firm seems to have been irrelevant to the selection but generates an unfortunate appearance in InsolvenCity, where List-Makers routinely lead certain city officials around like Moe led Curly (by the nostrils).

Darlene Harris, rather than Bill Peduto or Doug Shields, was Ms. Barkley's primary promoter among councilors.

Rex said...


I actually think it's rather unfortunate that unrelated issues have become conflated here.

1. Barbara Ernsberger is a serious attorney.

2. Barbara Ernsberger is a serious political entity.

3. Barbara Ernsberger is a principal at a serious law firm.

None of these issues has anything to do with the issues at hand here.

If Barbara wasn't a serious attorney AND a serious political entity, she wouldn't likely have won a statewide primary for an appellate judicial seat she ran for last year, especially given that she is from Western PA as opposed to Eastern PA.

I think Council probably did her AND Shannon Barkley a disservice in handling this situation in the way that they did considering that Peduto's amendment to the City Code requires ONLY that the contract be bid; It doesn't subsequently require (because it is a professional services agreement) that Council (or the City) award the contract to the lowest bidder OR the lowest responsible bidder, but merely that an RFQ and/or RFP be issued.

So none of that is a mark against Barbara or her firm or her employee(s), rather, Council. It certainly demonstrates Council's absolute need for legal counsel, because if they had one, they would have known that. It also demonstrates that Council seldom remembers the legislation they enact, as 5 of the 6 members who voted to approve the contract also voted to approve the amendment to the City Code.

I believe Council owes Barbara and Shannon an apology for the slightest aspersion cast as a result of this.

And as for the rest of the argument, Infy, I suppose, no pun intended, that's why there are lawyers. LOL