If you attended the directors meeting last night, or watched by TV, you might have walked away kind of dazed or at least curious, how business is done in Fort Smith.
First, you have Kevin Settle, who must really hate the “competitive bidding” process, by not only pushing "city only" trash pickup over honoring the bidding process, but successfully making a motion to table the awarding of the uniform supply service contract with the city. Unifirst and Cintas, both large uniform service companies were the apparent competing bidders in the uniform service supply contract. Unifirst was the low bidder, with a bid that over the span of the contract was a significant savings to the taxpayers of Fort Smith. This issue should have been a simple, straight forward act, but no, Kevin Settle had to preach down to the people and explain what everybody already knew. And why would the purchasing manager for the city, Alie Bahsoon, have a “purchasing committee”, is the job he has too big for Mr Bahsoon? So this awarding of the uniform contract is tabled for another two weeks. Kevin Settle needs to accept the fact he can’t pick and choose who to do business with when he is being responsible for spending the taxpayers money.
Then Frank Sharum, a very successful, hardworking businessman addresses the board about his experience with the city of Fort Smith. He stated he met with the city administrator and parks director back in February about a downtown job he was to do for the city. The city offered no real specific set of plans, Frank had his own personnel work up a specific set of plans. He stated he was to be the sub-contractor and was working within a specific dollar allowance. He stated the allowance was too generous for the job. He could have just kept the excess money, but instead, chose to be honest and offered to do some additional work Pam Weber was trying to get done on the riverfront. Apparently from that February meeting, all was well, but when it was time to do the job, the parks department and city hall told Frank, the funds were specifically for one job and he could not do the extra work. Is there any wonder why Fort Smith isn’t growing like other nearby cities? To make matters worse, an article in “The City Wire”, I thought tried to make Frank look like the bad guy. Frank started fresh out of college with nothing but a name that was synonymous with landscaping and nurseries in Fort Smith. The business he built is not just in Fort Smith, but he has a nursery of equal size if not larger in northwest Arkansas and has clients all over. One notable client being Alice Walton and the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville. But it was ironic that the same night Frank spoke, our board, with the exception of Pam Weber and George Catsavis, voted to accept $37,500 of a $150,000 loan made to Lend A Hand and Barlee Properties over 10 years ago that has never been repaid. Can you see the difference in how some are treated in Fort Smith?