AUDIO: TTC to review late news stand bid, Stintz defends original deal
There is a chance that a controversial city contract to run 65 news stands at TTC subway stations will be opened up to competition, after all.
In a letter to TTC Commissioners, TTC Chair Karen Stintz spoke up about the so-called 'sole source' contract given to Tobmar International, otherwise known as Gateway.
Stintz has asked that a new offer received late Tuesday night from International News be to subject to a third-party review.
Mayor Rob Ford responded on Wednesday, saying that he was glad Stintz and the Commission had 'seen the light.'
"I'm glad that they've realised they've made a mistake and they're going to revisit it," Ford says.
However, Karen Stintz disagrees with Ford's assertion that she and the Commission made an error.
"We're not re-visiting anything, I've simply asked for a third-party review to be done," Stintz says.
She adds that if the review shows that the International News bid offers the city more value, then she will reconsider her position.
Stintz remains confident that the Gateway bid is the best solution.
"If we decide not to proceed with this lease negotiation and we do go to an (open bidding process) for 2014, we will lose $3 million dollars of revenue to the TTC that has been included in our budget and they is real money for taxpayers," she says.
Ford claims the deal could have been at least $5 million richer if it had been put to an open market.
Stintz also faced questions about just how dysfunctional the relationship is between she and the mayor, after both Stintz and Ford admitted they had not talked about the contract in the 3 months that it was being hashed out by the Transit Commission.
"I think that this business deal has become a political issue and I think that the mayor has agreed that we have a way of moving forward that is going to help address his concerns and still help us get on with the business of the TTC, which I think this deal is distracting from," says Stintz.
She adds the review on the International News offer will be presented at the next Transit Commission meeting.
Mayor Ford and his brother Councillor Doug Ford attacked Stintz over the Gateway contract, worth $48 million over 15 years. On Sunday's edition of NEWSTALK 1010's The City, Doug called the TTC Chair out for what he perceives as a lack of business experience.
(with files from Dave Bradley)
Letter to TTC commissioners from chair Karen Stintz:
By now, you should have received an “unconditional” offer from International News, submitted at 8:00 pm yesterday evening, with respect to operating the newsstands within the subway system. I learned about this proposal at 9:45 PM last evening through the media, and reviewed it for the first time this morning.
While the proposal claims to be unconditional the terms of the proposal are very unclear, since the current leases do not expire until 2014 at the earliest.
I cannot explain why this proposal was not submitted over the course of the last four months when this issue was before the Commission; however, I believe that it should be reviewed in the interest of fairness and transparency. I will be asking TTC staff to conduct a third-party review of the International News proposal against the Gateway proposal and to provide a briefing note to the Commissioners before the next meeting. This third-party review should include commentary from legal and real-estate experts and will evaluate the terms of each proposal for value-for-money, the current relationship each tenant has with its respective landlord(s), and the customer-service impact on the TTC.
If you feel there are other components regarding this issue which need to be covered by such a third-party review please forward them to me.
I feel strongly that this review be conducted by a third-party since TTC staff have been inconsistent in their recommendations to the Commission.
I also believe very strongly that this issue has become a distraction to the good work that is going on at the TTC. This needs to end. Andy Byford agrees with me.
This review, I believe, will still demonstrate that the Tobmar/Gateway lease extension proposal is very solid. It makes enormous business sense to extend leases for good tenants when the rents are increased by 67%. This is not a sole-source contract. It is a lease-extension and a very common practice throughout the TTC, the City and its Agency, Boards and Commissions where there is a landlord-tenant relationship.
For the record, the Mayor has yet to contact me on this issue.