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Are there things wrong with the secretly renegotiated contract that Mayor Tom Hartz signed with MSI General Corp, regarding the redevelopment of the Riviera Pier Complex? You better believe there are. The renegotiated contract, dated July 27th, 2018, was signed on August 2nd by Mayor Hartz and a representative of that company. Earlier this year, the city sent out requests for architectural firms interested in working on the restoration of The Riviera complex. All replies were based on the detailed information supplied to the firms and, of those sent out, six firms responded.

MSI was one of the respondents, as was revealed earlier in a plan commission meeting. MSI General’s response included desired services not a part of the other replies. It was because of those additional desired services that MSI, and only MSI General, was selected for a detailed presentation to the plan commission, and subsequently the City Council. Both chose MSI, and an agreement was signed that included those additional secret services. Was the selection of MSI preplanned? If the city wanted to include those additional services, then to be fair, a request should have included those additional services or it should have, at least been sent out again with them in it, but that was not done.

Using an excuse that the city attorney had not reviewed the contract, the city went into closed session to renegotiate new terms for the agreement that the city had signed with MSI General. It wasn’t because the city attorney had not reviewed the agreement, but because from the city’s perspective there was a problem with the agreement, as it was signed. If there had been no problem with it, then it would not have had to be renegotiated.

So, what was the problem? With the renegotiations being done in closed sessions, no one can tell what was right or wrong with the agreement, or why it needed to be changed (how convenient to cover everyone’s trail and tail). If one looks at some of the changes made, however, then something doesn’t look quite right. In the original agreement article 1.1.1 included that drawings and specifications issued prior to the execution of the document be part of the agreement; whereas, 1.1.1 as amended reads: “An Owner scope of work has not been provided to the architect, construction manager or historic preservation consultant.” The revised article 1.1.1 reads that the revised agreement supersedes prior negotiations, and representations or agreements, either written or verbal. Out went the scope of work stuff. So, no matter what the city officials told MSI General Corporation, or gave them, about the scope of work to be done on the Riviera project and on which they had responded, it was not the scope of work to be done, because they were not told what the scope of work to be done was.

Then what was MSI General given as the scope of work to be done that they responded to and that the city now says they were not given? What was the scope of the work to be done that is now being denied? Also knowing that the city administrator was leaving in a couple of days after the signing of the renegotiated contract, why was he identified as the city’s only representative to approve the architect’s submittals in the renegotiated contract? The new contract may describe how it is to be done, but not what or why, nor costs, except those given as percentages of the total.

The citizens don’t know what work is planned or will be done. That is secret. What is optional? What are the actual costs budgeted for? How will the estimated $5 million cost be funded? That is secret. The whole Riviera restoration project smells of secrecy and a hidden agenda. Is a big restaurant being planned for this marine complex, because it sure begins to look like Mr. Gage, restaurant owner extraordinaire, and Tom Hartz, restaurant magnate himself, might just have something up their sleeves? The city attorney will back any bad deal that gets put in front of him, as he’s proven time and again.

This is going to get interesting, and the GSR is not going to miss one single part of it.

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