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Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

City contracts to “local” companies

Prior to the holidays, former City Council President Daniel Davis introduced a bill (2008-1055) that would favor local companies bidding on City contracts.  According to the bill summary, the bill intends to

add more specificity to the City’s current policy of giving some preference in the procurement process to local companies versus those that have no Jacksonville or Florida presence.  The changes do so by awarding more points in the professional services evaluation process under the “proximity” criterion to companies headquartered in Jacksonville or having a substantial office presence in the city on a formal graduated scale, and by adjusting the evaluation of the “volume of current and prior work” criterion to give greater points to companies with larger Jacksonville-based staffs. 

In addition, according to a recent TU article, Davis intends to introduce an amendment to his bill that allows companies with secondary offices in Jacksonville that have been doing business in the city for at least five years to receive additional consideration.

 

Davis’ proposal is scheduled for committee hearings next week.  But before City Council members make up their minds on this proposed ordinance code change, they should read and consider the thoughts of a former county chief of administrative services for a mental health program.  The following column was recently published in the St. Pete Times. 

 

No local preferences for contracts

By C.D. Chamberlain, Guest Columnist

Back in the days when I was the chief of administrative services for a county mental health program, my boss taught me these three basic axioms for evaluating any proposed public policy:

•What is the policy attempting to do?

•For whose benefit?

•At whose expense?

These three questions assume the basic utilitarian principle: The highest good is to do the most good for the most people. This utilitarian principle evolved in reaction to a hereditary oligarchy that rewarded the very few at the expense of the many.

A subordinate utilitarian principle is: All public expenses must be fairly and equitably borne by all persons. Revenue collection must be equitable and all benefits must likewise be equitable. The goal of our democratic system is assuring that the greatest number of persons receive the greatest benefit.

So, when our newly minted county commissioners opine that county contracts should give preference to local businesses, we have to ask: For whose benefit? At whose expense?

My response to such preference is either sucking in a deep breath or emitting a deeper sigh.

Bid specifications assure that the winner has the ability to perform the contract. The open-bidding process replaces cronyism with competition and assures prudent public purchases. There is no substitute for buying the specified service or product at the lowest possible price. In our imperfect world, this is the best way to make sure the most good is done for the most people.

Why should all taxpayers be saddled with additional cost to provide a benefit to a few preferred bidders? Once special status is granted to any party making a bid, how many other special considerations will be granted? After all, a local firm has the built-in advantage of lower transportation costs. If this home-court advantage cannot produce the winning bid, why should the general public absorb additional expenses for local favoritism? Of course, we know that our commissioners would never give special consideration to a local firm just because it made a campaign contribution.

We all recall that our great nation on occasion granted special privileges based on race, gender, religion, national origin and political affiliation. None of us look back on such favoritism with pride. Favoritism is corrosive to the very heart of our democracy and corrupts public morals.

Hernando County must embrace the best of our democratic ideals and maintain an open, honest, and equitable bidding process. We will all benefit.

C.D. Chamberlain lives in Spring Hill

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Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , ,

4 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. gatorblue says:

    Weren’t Peyton’s giveaways to his friends both local contracts? (Teagle and Green)

  2. spidey says:

    The Jacksonvile Business Journal is running a survey online this week asking if the City should give preferential treatment to local companies. So far the vote is 2 to 1 AGAINST Councilman Davis’ proposed legislation.

    http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/poll/index.html?poll_id=7020

  3. […] favoritism in attracting City business has cleared two committees. The bill, previously discussed here, is not without its opposition, however. Council Members Michael Corrigan and Stephen Joost […]

  4. […] a comment » We’ve previously expressed our concerns here and here over Daniel Davis’ proposed changes to the City’s procurement code that would […]

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