That was apparent as soon as Gulliford called to order Wednesday a meeting to discuss a Request for Proposal issued by the city in July seeking a private entity to manage and program Hemming Plaza.
Gulliford invited Procurement Director Greg Pease, Office of Economic Development Executive Director Ted Carter and Kelly Boree, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, to attend the meeting to explain the process of issuing the Hemming Plaza proposal.
None attended the meeting.
"Let me vent," Gulliford began.
He said a council committee, chaired by council member Denise Lee, worked for more than a year to identify ways to improve the plaza, the park at City Hall's front door. The committee concluded a third party should take over operation of the park.
When the Downtown Investment Authority was created, the committee turned over the Hemming Plaza project to the authority, which worked with a group of private citizens to draft the RFP.
It was then sent through city channels, including the Office of Economic Development, the Office of General Counsel, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Risk Management Department.
The RFP was issued to the public in July by the city Procurement Department after review by its Professional Services Evaluation Committee.
"Then it goes out to bid and we get no bids. Where did it break down?" said Gulliford.
Lee responded, "It is my understanding that procurement or the administration changed the language in the RFP."
Jim Bailey, publisher of the Financial News & Daily Record, was the DIA liaison to the administration for the Hemming Plaza RFP.
He said he gave the draft to OED Deputy Director Paul Crawford and that the DIA had been advised by OED Executive Director Ted Carter it could be as long as six months before the RFP was ready to be released for public bids.
"Two weeks later," Bailey said, "it was on the street."
Wayne Wood, represented "The Friends of Hemming Plaza," one of the groups that provided input to help draft the RFP.He said the group was "a collaboration" between Downtown Vision Inc., the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and others interested in improving programming at Hemming Plaza.
Wood said after the group reviewed the RFP that the Procurement Department prepared, members offered 15 amendments they thought would be necessary in order for the group to file a response as planned.
Wood said the group submitted the amendments to the Procurement Department, part of the usual RFP process. But the city did not respond to those amendments before issuing the RFP.
"Basic plain courtesy dictates you go back and tell people when you make a change," said Gulliford.
Gulliford asked why the invited department heads were absent from the meeting.
"Call their office and find out where they are," he said.
David DeCamp, spokesman for Mayor Alvin Brown, said in an email to the Daily Record that Pease, Carter and Boree intended to attend Gulliford's meeting. However, the council Finance Committee required their presence at one of the panel's final budget review hearings, which was slated with agenda items after Gulliford noticed Wednesday's meeting.
DeCamp said Pease sent an email to Gulliford at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday advising the council president he would be unable to attend the meeting due to his commitment at the budget review hearing.
"We are committed to working with President Gulliford and the council, as well as the Downtown Investment Authority, to help make Hemming Plaza the best it can be," DeCamp said.
Gulliford directed that another meeting be scheduled next week at a time when all of the department heads involved in processing the Hemming Plaza RFP can be there and prepared to answer questions concerning why the original document was modified and who modified it. He said he wants a new RFP issued as soon as possible.
Gulliford said as council president, he has the authority to subpoena witnesses to appear and testify at committee meetings.
"If I have to do that, I will," he said.
City Council President Bill Gulliford is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore.