Tuesday, September 09, 2014

WINDSTREAM To Get St. Augustine Beach Telecommunications Contract After All?

That dodgy multinational corporation that proposed obnoxious contractual provisions was back at St. Augustine Beach City Hall last night.

WINDSTREAM, a multi-billion telecommunications company, appears to have won a four-year contract, if it can come to terms.

For months, WINDSTREAM attempted to euchre City of St. Augustine Beach Commissioners with contractual language we have previously reported, which City Attorney Douglas Nelson Burnett rightly questioned and Commissioners rejected.

St. Augustine Beach staff inexperience with purchasing is the root of the problem. Instead of complying with the purchasing ordinance, the city staff simply solicited "quotes," violating competitive bidding requirements. Instead of rejecting the staff proposal, they referred it to the City Attorney, who found that one-sided contract language, including no warrant, was unfair.

So, mirabile dictu, the City issued a request for proposals. WINDSTREAM was recommended as the responsive bidder, to specifications that appear to have been dreamed up by city staff to award the contract to WINDSTREAM.

Not so fast, Commissioner Sherman Gary Snodgrass said, saying he did not want to do business with dishonest WINDSTREAM as a result of its prior contractual drafting dodginess. But his colleagues, led by Mayor ANDREA SAMUELS, spoke in favor of WINDSTREAM, as did a dogged WINDSTREAM salesman. Commissioner Undine Pawlowski George wanted to see if CISCO, which has the county's telecommunications business, would match WINDSTREAM's offer, minus the unfair contract language. None of her colleagues went along.

Rather than vote their principles, both Commissioner Snodgrass and Commisssioner Pawlowski went along with the crowd, and the dodgy staff and Police Chief ROBERT HARDWICK, voting to give the contract to WINDSTREAM, if within the next month a suitable contract can be worked out with the City Attorney.

The most revealing thing of the night was when the dodgy WINDSTREAM salesman, one of two trolling the audience, stated that WINDSTREAM had never encountered a government that questioned its contract language so much before. This is so revealing -- so many of our governments are lapdogs and doormats for big corporations, and their attorneys don't read or question bad contract language. Three cheers for City Attorney Douglas Nelson Burnett for doing his job on the WINDSTREAM contract, and not endorsing corruption and bad management. So many other governments are like what Huey Long said about Louisiana Governor O.K. Allen: "A leaf blew in his window and he signed it."

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