Bill Dusty has published a very intriguing story on his Springfield Intruder blog about Springfield City Hall’s apparently schizophrenic policy when it comes to public bidding for public leases.
Most infamously, the city (namely, the Sarno administration and the since-dissolved Finance Control Board) last year opted not to seek public bids for rental agreements for a new home for the School Department; instead, the city signed a lease to move the department into 1550 Main St., the former federal building left vacant after the new courthouse was built on State Street. City Councilor Tim Rooke has spent months trying to get City Hall to seek competitive bids for a lease, arguing that the lease for 1550 Main—which leaves taxpayers on the hook not just for rent, but also for millions in renovations to the building—is a very bad deal.
And, Dusty notes, the city recently appeared set to execute another no-bid deal, this time to move the Renaissance School to space at the Springfield Technical Community College “technology park.” After Rooke raised a stink about the deal, the School Committee voted to seek bids for a new home for the school. “But it’s pretty clear that there are parties at City Hall who have their sights set on the STCC Technology Park, so it should be interesting to see how things pan out,” Dusty writes. The tech park, he adds, is owned by the STCC Assistance Corporation, whose board of directors includes Mayor Domenic Sarno.
“What is it – really – that determines when the City takes out RFPs and when it doesn’t?” ponders Dusty, who wonders whether “the powers-that-be are making such decisions on a case-by-case basis, which in turn could open up the city to the kind of back-alley dealing that got Springfield into such dire straights in the first place.”