Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

June 20, 2013

Editorial: L&P must solicit bids for consultant contract

If Traverse City Light & Power could get savvy advice on how to maneuver its way through the next 10 or so years, that advice would be a bargain at twice the $60,000 quoted by a strategic planning firm.

Considering that the decisions the utility makes could result in millions being invested in energy generation, renewable energy and conservation, $60,000 is a pittance.

But just as important as the money is how the city-owned utility does business — a reality that Light & Power seems incapable of embracing.

New L&P executive director Tim Arends solicited the proposal from Hometown Connections, a firm that recently conducted an assessment of the utility’s management and operations.

That analysis was pretty much spot-on. But just about anybody could have figured out that the sniping and power struggles that have marked the relationship between the city commission and the Light & Power board over the years were the root cause of most of the utility’s problems.

So that doesn’t mean Hometown Connections knows it all and it doesn’t excuse Light & Power from not seeking bids from other firms. And there is zero justification for granting Hometown Connections — or any firm — the kind of open-ended clause like the one offered Hometown that would leave Light & Power on the hook for all travel and lodging expenses, whatever they may be.

That’s not how a public body does business. To properly serve the taxpayers, a public board or commission creates a bidding process that allows those representing the public to weigh bids and look for the best, most creative deals. And nobody (except maybe the Pentagon or the IRS) gets a blank check on hotel rooms, meals and airline tickets.

But that’s the way things have played out so far and why Light & Power again finds itself painted into a corner of its own making - and the public wondering what’s going on.

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Raw: Obama Tours Gyeongbok Palace Swimmer Michael Phelps Back in Competition Raw: Obama Lays Korean War Memorial Wreath Obama Leads Naturalization Ceremony in Seoul Calif. School Bus Crash Hurts Driver, 11 Kids Country Club for Exotic Cars Little Science Behind 'Pollen Vortex' Prediction US Proposes Pay-for-priority Internet Standards Wife Mourns Chicago Doctor Killed in Afghanistan FDA Proposes Regulations on E-cigarettes Kerry Warns Russia of Expensive New Sanctions Mideast Peace Talks Stall on Hamas Deal Cody Walker Remembers His Late Brother Paul Grieving South Korea Puts Up Yellow Ribbons Raw: Kerry Brings His Dog to Work Raw: Girls Survive Car Crash Into Their Bedroom Three U.S. Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Yankees' Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Pine Tar Colleagues Mourn Death of Doctors in Afghanistan Ukraine Launches Operation Against Insurgents