Shared from the 2016-09-20 Palm Beach Post eEdition


IG: Gardens violated law on clubhouse

City didn’t record some meetings concerning $4.5 million project.

PALM BEACH GARDENS — Palm Beach Gardens violated the law when it failed to make audio recordings of meetings related to its new golf clubhouse, the Palm Beach County Office of the Inspector General found.

The city didn’t record meetings at which its team discussed its strategy for negotiations with the highest-ranked contractor for a new, $4.5 million clubhouse at the Sandhill Crane Golf Club on Northlake Boulevard, the Office of the Inspector General said in a 10-page report issued Monday.

The City Council in March awarded the contract for the clubhouse to Sisca Construction Services after negotiations with Hedrick Brothers Construction failed. Hedrick Brothers reviewed the report and did not have any comment on it.

Inspector General John Carey said his office’s look at the matter found no “ill-intent” by the city representatives.

“As soon as we brought this to their attention, they started to take corrective actions,” he said. “The city worked with us, cooperated very well with us.”

Palm Beach Gardens did maintain some notes, he said. One face-to-face meeting in December between the city negotiating team and the contractor’s representative was recorded.

Effective Aug. 24, Palm Beach Gardens changed its purchasing policies and procedures so that negotiations from the beginning up until the meeting of the minds are recorded, city spokeswoman Candice Temple said.

“We do feel that the transparency and the trust of the public is important,” she said.

Although public entities are permitted to exclude the public from negotiation strategy sessions, they are required to keep a complete audio recording the public can access later to ensure the process was fair, according to the report and Carey.

When the Inspector General requested the recordings of the meetings, city representatives said there were none and that they didn’t believe the recordings were required by law, the report states. The Office of the Inspector General disagreed.

The office’s report contains two recommendations, which Palm Beach Gardens accepted:

• The city record all team meetings at which negotiation strategies are discussed.

• The city include guidelines about the negotiation team process in its purchasing and procedures manual that ensure compliance with the law, consistency, effectiveness and “transparency in the negotiation process.”

Twitter: @Speters09

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