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February 9, 2011


Buffington says Beutler favors “backroom deals” to arena transparency

by Deena Winter

Republican mayoral candidate Tammy Buffington today questioned why Mayor Chris Beutler has not kept his promises about complete transparency and accountability on the city’s $340 million arena project.

Tammy Buffington

“What is he trying to hide?” she asked, referring to the recent exception granted to contractor Mortenson Construction, allowing them to avoid the city’s usual open bidding process for pre-construction services, which will account for much of the work.

“Chris Beutler has completely rejected transparency again in favor of deals done behind closed doors,” Buffington said in a press release. “He promised an open and competitive bidding process on the arena but he has clearly gone back on his word and is leaving taxpayers in the dark. Not only will the subcontractors be selected with no public view but the bids themselves will never be exposed to the light of day under the current contract. The public never gets to see the bids, including prices, even after the backroom deals are done.”

Buffington said the mayor’s decision runs contrary to the city’s established bidding process, under the city charter. Federal wage requirements — required since the city is using federal Build America Bonds to finance part of the project — now will also potentially mean a much higher price tag on the arena, she said, but the public will not get to see the actual bids.

“This is more of the same from Chris Beutler — negotiating special deals for special people, then handing us the bill,” Buffington said. “The mayor’s actions here have violated the trust of our taxpayers, our local contractors and the voters who supported the arena on his promise of transparency.”

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great Philosopher
    Feb 9 2011

    If a tree falls down and the woods and there is noone there to hear it does it make a sound?

    If Tammy Buffington makes ridiculous claims and there isn’t a self-promoting blogger to repeat them, does she have an audience?

  2. Janet Poley
    Feb 9 2011

    Unfortunately, all of this is very complicated and we aren’t taking into account the fact that “most of us” aren’t really expert in things that should be considered. Jeff Poley is one of the smartest people in this community and a lot of political and development people have no use for a man who is a fabulous politician and an architect/engineer married into probably the best journalistic family in the state.

    Jeff Poley attended the JPA hearing at my urging. He came home and said the UNL representative, Tim Clare, seemed to be the only person with an understanding (as a very competent lawyer) of how all this works to the advantage of the community.

    It is important to know who people are……North Dakota is a very small state. My years in D.C. gave me great respect for North Dakotans. They have played really important role in Congress and administrations. The ND oil project is all over the new today. My D.C. boss – the head of all the extension services in the U.S. was from D.C…..the head of the NACO was a fabulous woman from ND….I think we in Nebraska had better get our act together.

    I am so proud of what you have been doing….it is a national model… let’s see what you announce tomorrow.

    Spouse of Jeff Poley

    P.S. Beutler ‘s people called while I was writing this and asked if they could put a sign in my yard. He first asked for Jeff….he laughed at me when I said I was very tired of receiving calls from them that all were for Jeff. There won’t be CB signs in my yard. He has never asked for my opinions on anything!!

    Janet Poley PhD

  3. Roger Yant
    Feb 9 2011

    As someone who used to submit many bids to the city, state, county and federal government in my past, I or someone from my company would go to the bid openings specially on large bids to see how we fared. The bid process was always open to the public and they were fair and honest. If we were low bid we got the job, if not one of our competitors got it, no questions asked, they beat us fare and square.
    I agree with Mrs. Buffington, there is something fishy going on, back-room deals or something. Someone should stop this process before it gets started, is there not a lawyer out there that wants to see things done right in our city and would handle this FREE? I would think so. But, then again is there a lawyer who would take on a case if they truly believed in it? Again, I don’t know of such a person. What is going on here is truly bad for the taxpayers of Lincoln. I say, go Tammy go, don’t let them buffalo you on this. Do we have a city council?

  4. Roberta
    Feb 10 2011

    It would appear City Council’s hands are tied because the JPA is a separate entity, wonder why it was set up that way.

  5. ej
    Feb 10 2011

    After listening to Mrs. Buffington on J&J, it’s pretty clear she doesn’t know enough about the arena project to be criticizing anyone. Clearly, she doesn’t understanding the financing mechanisms. Then she tried to equate voter ignorance (including her own, apparently) with a lack of transparency. Maybe she can get up to speed. But she’s going to have to understand that this mayoral election is not a one-issue race.

  6. Roberta
    Feb 11 2011

    Sounds to me that ej doesn’t know the definition of the word Transparency

    • ej
      Feb 11 2011

      Sounds to me that Roberta didn’t listen to the interview. Mrs. Buffington claimed that people didn’t understand what they were voting for/against. In fact, she seemed surprised to learn that she wasn’t voting for/against the arena, and that instead she was voting for/against the authority to issue bonds to cover part of the funding. All this, despite Deena specifically pointing out in several of her articles, plus several other media outlets, clearly stating what the vote was about. Oh yeah, then there’s the ballot itself. Anyone, including Mrs. Buffington, could have read that before they cast their vote. Yet, Mrs. Buffington somehow thinks there was a lack of transparency in the ballot measure itself. Sorry, but it’s simply a case of voter ignorance. Voting is great, but please be an informed voter.


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