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Crist bows to JD’s request to reopen $20 million citrus contract

by Dara Kam | June 11th, 2009

Senate SessionGov. Charlie Crist again succumbed to pressure from Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander regarding no-bid contracts inked by the governor’s executive agency staff.

Crist said yesterday he would re-open a $20 million contract to market Florida citrus.

Florida Citrus Commission staff recently recommended re-upping the contract with a Texas-based corporation without a public hearing or taking new offers despite a significant drop in citrus sales since the agency took over the contract.

“I think every contract ought to be open bid. Every time,” Crist said when asked whether he would re-open bids on the advertising contract.

When asked if he would order the commission to do so, he replied: “I think I just did.”

The orange juice struggle is the latest in what is becoming an increasingly sour relationship between Alexander, an heir to Ben Hill Griffin’s citrus fortune, and Crist.

Crist vetoed a bill Alexander sponsored that would have given lawmakers more control over high-dollar contracts with private vendors.

Since then, the Lake Wales Republican has publicly asked Crist to re-open bids on two multi-million dollar contracts that would have been automatically renewed had he not intervened.

Last week, Alexander asked Crist to re-bid a $44 million contract with Convergys for the troubled PeopleFirst human resources system.

This week, Alexander chided Crist for vetoing his bill (SB 2694) in a letter asking for new bids on the citrus ads.

“Had this legislation already existed or been signed into law, staff would have clearly known that this type of ‘automatic renewal’ for contracts especially those in the millions of dollars, should be competitively bid. It is clear that such legislation is needed to provide legislative oversight and to establish the proper accountability currently missing in this process,” he wrote.

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One Response to “Crist bows to JD’s request to reopen $20 million citrus contract”

  1. Ben Says:

    Tell me Charlie, are you going to put dental services out for bid the next time you have a cavity? Do you want the LOWEST BIDDER working on your teeth? Eyes? NO? Then why would you walk so blindly with open bid contractors. The lowest price isn’t always the price to do the job right. If you’re a contractor who knows what the hell you’re doing…you’re going to price the job to build the job. This puts you in an apple and oranges scenario in the bid letting. Now all you’ve done is open yourself up to change orders and budget over runs…that could have been avoided by negotiating your contracts ahead of time. Open bid contracts have their place, but to say “every contract should be open bid”…tells me what a @#% idiot you are.

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