City favored its own in bid
Contract evaluators all have ties to city
Comments and scoring methods compiled during a bid process for a food-and-beverage contract for two Grand Junction-owned golf courses demonstrate favoritism toward a city-based proposal.
Some comments show that evaluators considered jobs of city employees when deciding how to rate food service and qualifications of the three bidders: Two Rivers Convention Center; Venema; and Pinon Grill, which has had the contract the past 14 years.
Surveys also show some evaluators scribbled out initial scores and amended them either to favor scores for Two Rivers or to reduce scores of the city’s competition.
According to bidding documents obtained by The Daily Sentinel, the process for a new food-and-beverage-services contract at Tiara Rado and Lincoln Park golf courses was conducted solely by city staff or members of an advisory committee of Grand Junction’s Parks and Recreation Department board members.
According to a city e-mail, members of the interview committee were:
• Rob Schoeber, director of parks and recreation.
• Jay Valentine, assistant financial operations manager.
• Karen Peterson, parks and recreation senior administrative assistant in marketing.
• Rob Stong, golf pro at Tiara Rado.
• Scott Hockins, purchasing supervisor.
• Yvette Carnine, board member of the parks and recreation advisory board.
• Tawny Espinoza, board member of the parks and recreation advisory board.
Jim Billings, who is described by city staff as a business owner and golfer, is listed as being an evaluator on some scoring sheets. His name was not included in the list of those chosen for the interview panel. Doug Jones, golf superintendent for Grand Junction, also is listed on some scoring sheets, but he, too, was not listed as being on the interview panel.
The process included a 30-minute presentation, followed by 15-minute question-and-answer period by the interview panel. Each bidder was asked to prepare meals for a tasting at a later date. Bidders were to be judged on their qualifications, experience, marketing and a sample menu. Evaluators were later asked to comment on the food’s quality, presentation, price and whether they would pay for it, among other questions.
In a comment section rating Two Rivers’ overall presentation, one of Carnine’s notes included: “concern of current employees or at least some of the more senior employees keeping their positions.”
Scoring sheets for the interview process completed by Jones show he initially gave higher scores to Pinon Grill and Venema, then scribbled them out and replaced them with lower scores. A similar scoring sheet by Jones for Two Rivers shows two lower scores for Two Rivers that were later changed to higher scores.
Stong’s evaluation showed an identical trend. Two Rivers received a 5, the highest score possible, in each category. However, three categories in which he originally gave Venema a 5 were scribbled out and reduced to 4.
According to Steve Hoefer, the owner of Pinon Grill who bid for the contract, Peterson attended the oral interview segment of his proposal, but she did not attend Hoefer’s tasting portion. Billings attended the tasting segment of Hoefer’s presentation, but he was not present during the oral interview, Hoefer said.
Hoefer said in years past when he was bidding for the contract, the presentations were judged by some city staff, but they also included some professional chefs who did not have ties to the city. At that time, the city was not included in the bidding proposal.
As a result of this experience, Two Rivers will not bid out its services against the private sector, Grand Junction City Manager Laurie Kadrich said.
“We never intended (Two Rivers) to be in the contract business,” she said.
Kadrich said it was a mistake not to first ask Grand Junction City Council members what they wanted to do before allowing Two Rivers to enter the bidding process. She said it may appear upheaval at Two Rivers Convention Center is related to this latest bidding process, but she assured it is not connected.
Tim Seeberg, who resigned in November as director of the convention center, said he was leaving because he didn’t think he could offer the same high standards of food and service with a trimmed budget. The convention center, which most years is subsidized by the city to the tune of about $300,000, has raised its prices on events, food and rental equipment.
Kadrich said having city staff sit in on the bidding process for potential city contracts is commonplace.
“I know it looks weird, but we do it all the time,” she said.