Missouri City’s catering agreement fair process?
By Elsa Maxey
A Missouri City resident is inquiring about Missouri City’s final decision having to do with catering services for the City Centre at Quail Valley that will open later this summer. “I have not been able to locate the formal posting for this catering agreement,” she told city council members and Edward Broussard, city manager.
She sent them an email this past Thursday making sure her concern was also shared with the “Star”. On the same day, Broussard replied and told her that two requests for proposals had been advertised on four days in January and this March, published in the city’s selected newspaper for posting its legal notices. That newspaper, according to at least one civic-minded and active Missouri City resident, is sometimes not distributed regularly in his neighborhood, possibly accounting for the oversight as that could be the case elsewhere. The expressed concern about the newspaper’s alleged irregularity is unrelated to the catering agreement posting; however, Sherrie Jones, who wants to know about the matter, also sent the city’s legal posting newspaper her inquiries.
“We received a total of six proposals from the two separate RFP (request for proposal) processes,” said city manager Broussard, who indicated that 23 restaurants/caters in Fort Bend County were solicited plus historically underutilized businesses in Fort Bend County.
He also told Jones that on April 23, the “LGC [(Leisure) Local Government Corporation staff recommended rejecting all proposals and approving a single caterer relationship with local caterer Frederick Perrier” of Aura and Hogs and Chics. Jones knew that part referring to a June 4th city council meeting about the decision, and she cited minutes of the LGC on the catering plan. “Based on item #4, it appears that Mr. Owen visited Mr. Perrier and a decision was made,” she said referring to Mayor Allen Owen. “At first glance it appears that Mr. Owen hand selected this vendor,” she said.
Jones wants to make it clear that she is not anti-Fredrick Pierre. “In fact, many residents really appreciate what Mr. Pierre has brought to this city,” she said. Jones said her message is based on principle, the processes, “and to expose the many back door decisions and inducements in government.”
There was also a series of questions aimed at council members in her inquiry. Jones asked whether councilmember Marshall visited anyone near his district, like Charlie’s on Texas Parkway. Chef Ray, Piersons, Johnny Carinos, and Old Hickory Inn are examples of possibilities she wants to know whether councilmember Elackatt visited near his district. Councilman Emery? Jones asked him whether he visited anyone near his district, like Cher Binks, an events planner. “Mr. Nguyen, with all your business connections did you visit anyone,” how about Brookstreet, she wants to know. Of Mayor Pro Tem Wyatt, whom she referred to as the most experienced councilman “and always give advice,” did he question the matter, she asks.
According to the LGC minutes on the catering plan item, Golf course Manager Tyson Stilleburg recommended the single caterer relationship. “Chair Owen stated he visited with Frederic Perrier from Aura to see if this option would interest him and received positive feedback,” they read. Also, the minutes indicate that councilmember Smith inquired about the UH hotel school, which Jones expressly said she appreciated. “You spoke while the other Directors watched Director Owen slide his pick in,” states Jones.
Jones further asked city officials to provide a detailed description on the selection process it followed and how this decision was made for the final selection.
The city’s response to Jones, also sent to the “Star” from the city manager said, “The intent of the RFP was to contract with multiple caterers that would service this facility.” Broussard states that after discussions with various potential vendors, it was thought the operation may be more successful if there were one caterer that was the exclusive caterer for the facility. “By creating a relationship in which there is a single caterer which is the sole caterer for the facility, staff believes that we can command a larger commission from the caterer for the events held at the facility.”
Since the city posted a formal notice for an RFP for catering services, the request from Jones to recall the final decision in keeping with a formal process “so that everyone has a fair chance” may be a moot issue, but her questions are not.
Missouri City’s LGC was created in accordance with Texas local government code and other statutes to perform governmental functions on behalf of the city. The city’s new Community Center and Golf Pro Shop, recently named the City Centre at Quail Valley, are in their final phase of construction. City Centre is intended to offer residents, businesses and visitors an elegant venue for special events. It’s also where next year’s state of the city address will take place.