Want to Do Business With Fort Lauderdale? Be Brief, Cheap, and Transparent

Fort Lauderdale is looking for a new city manager, the person responsible for making sure the city commissioners' ideas translate into semilegitimate business decisions. The most recent city manager, George Gretsas, left in July when the city decided not to renew his contract.

But before the city can make a hire, it's looking for a consulting firm to recruit some fresh blood. The city has $35,000 to spend on consultants. Now the city commissioners have pored over proposals, chosen their three favorite firms, and guess what? The shorter proposals -- less reading material -- won the day.

Also: a little tussle between the mayor and Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom about those pesky Sunshine Laws. More after the jump.

Slavin Management out of Norcross, Georgia, had the cheapest bid at $13,825 plus $7,600 in expenses. But its presentation was a hideously boring monster of a packet, with 36 pages of copy (including a useless history of the City of Fort Lauderdale) in small black-and-white print. There's no way to tell for sure if that's the reason they got no votes, but it seems likely.

The group favorite, the Mercer Group, came in with a crisp six-page proposal and a price tag of $16,500 plus $7,500 in expenses. Bob Murray and Associates, based in Boca Raton, was about the same. The commission's other choice, Alliance Resource Consulting in California, submitted a 28-page packet, but it was colorful and glossy with pretty pictures of cities in California. So there's that.

Ralph Anderson and Associates lost some appeal because their introductory copy referred to us as "Arizona" instead of "Florida."

Rodstrom raised some concerns at a meeting last night about a claim from Slavin that due to Florida's Sunshine Laws requiring full disclosure in the hiring process, some potential hires "would not apply directly for fear of premature disclosure of interest." In other words, they wouldn't want their current bosses to know they were applying for the job.

Tough cookies, said Mayor Jack Seiler: "That's just the way it is. Once somebody applies, it's public information."

But "I don't want to be looking at only unemployed people," said Rodstrom. She insisted she wasn't questioning the spirit of the Sunshine Law, but Seiler kept implying that she was doing so.

Then she snapped: "Jack, if you do that one more time to me, I'm going to say something."

"Don't ever suggest that we don't comply with the Sunshine Law," warned Seiler.

The takeaway: We like 'em cheap, easy, and transparent. Pictures of California don't hurt, but never, ever call us Arizona.

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Stefan Kamph
Contact: Stefan Kamph