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Media Coverage
Letters From West County Times Readers - Council Meeting Was A Show Of Raw Political Power
March 21, 1996


Thursday, March 21, 1996
Section: Opinion
Page: A11
Column: Readers' Forum

Anyone watching Richmond's March 4 City Council meeting was treated to an exhibition of raw political power unmatched in recent history.

The selection of the consultant for the Point Molate Reuse Plan left objectivity in Richmond politics looking like mangled road kill, flattened and ground into the pavement by a hit-and-run Darrell Reese political machine.

It is now clear that Reese owns five members of the City Council and that he sells their votes off like slabs of premium pork in a political butcher shop to anyone willing to pay the price.

I believe the consulting team headed by Dan Peterson & Associates was hand-picked by Reese for the Point Molate assignment.

Although Peterson was ranked next to last of seven teams interviewed by city staff and was also ranked low by the City Council, Reese's five votes assured Peterson the contract without any substantive debate or compelling justification.

The staff report provided to City Council members noted that his team had "weak project management" and "no relevant experience."

Each of the six teams not selected for this project spent $5,000 to $20,000 in good faith, preparing voluminous proposals and appearing at two formal interviews.

They now know they were simply cannon fodder in a pre-wired political deal.

This kind of duplicity is devastating to Richmond's reputation and will severely damage our ability in the future to attract top-notch talent to apply for city consulting contracts.

The only reason given for Peterson's selection is that he is a "local" firm and that "the city puts a premium on hiring local workers." The term "local" may be technically correct, but "obscure" might be more appropriate.

With several highly-qualified and well-established firms to choose from, all with significant experience in base-closure planning, Reese-owned city council members chose a one-person "firm" with no pertinent experience.

Several of the higher-rated firms were woman-owned and African-American-owned. Peterson, who is a white male, has no office and no employees. He works alone in his Richmond home.

Like Hilltop and Marina Bay ads, which neglect to mention Richmond, Peterson uses a Marin County (415 area code) phone number and lists himself only in the Marin County Yellow Pages.

His wife's "firm," Architectural Preservation Consultants (located in the same condo) is included as a major subconsultant on the team, but is not even listed in the phone book.

Sometimes I wonder why we don't just cut out the middlemen and turn the city over to Reese. It would save money on City Council expenses, stop wasting my time, and provide the same results.

Thomas K. Butt


Butt is a Richmond City Council