Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Back Room Deal for City Property?

Buried in the Code of Ordinances for the City of Richmond is a curious provision that permits the City to dispose of property in response to an Unsolicited Offer.

 The curious aspect of this provision is that only two conditions must be met for the sale: (a) that the Mayor recommends the sale through crafting an ordinance for City Council consideration and (b) the passage of that ordinance by City Council. That's it. No additional due diligence measures, property valuation to establish a fair price, or introduction of competition is required by the provision. Furthermore, the ordinance to authorize sale is a one-step process - the declaration of the property as "surplus" and the terms of the sale to the offeror are packaged into a single document.

How can this process possibly be in the best interest of the City? All of the other provisions for disposal of City property have the designation of "surplus property" as a prerequisite, followed by some kind of competitive process, such as requests for proposals or invitations to bid. The Unsolicited Offer route seems to circumvent due process and raises questions of possible impropriety. If an offeror manages to quietly convince the Mayor and a majority of Council Members to support the sale, then the way is clear for the offeror to acquire the property with minimal fanfare. 

This hardly seems consistent with the normal sentiments of transparency and market-driven competition in the affairs of government.

1 comment:

  1. Nah, this system is perfect. Now we just need to find some benevolent Randian oligarchs.