Q 1: How do you know AIM's Grand Lake Farmers Market is good for local business?
(Later in the piece Kernighan said the concerns of the business community were being met.)
Though the North Berkeley market is the smallest of the Ecology Center’s three farmers’ markets in the city, a 2012 survey showed that the addition of the market increased visitors to the North Berkeley Business District, and in turn, boosted local businesses. The survey revealed that 56% of shoppers come to the area specifically to attend the market and 72% of market shoppers reported spending an average of $34 at other local businesses as well—adding up to over $2 million in annual sales for North Berkeley businesses.
A 2: This site has a history. Back in 1998/1999 Councilmember John Russo - whether Pat Kernighan had become his chief of staff at that period I don't recall - proposed giving the park to developers to build a Trader Joe's. As part of the effort to stop that from happening, the idea arose to bring a farmers market to show the park was not derelict, useless space. (My wife has written of this elsewhere on this blog.) After the developers were repulsed, the City paid for a remake of the park specifically with the continued presence of a farmers market in mind. Some bad design choices were made, particularly in the choice of materials for the pathways. AIM should not bear alone the responsibility of an ongoing problem with walking surfaces. As for the City sharing the general burden of paying for general maintenance, if you accept my answer to the previous question that Grand Lake Market is an economic asset to the community both in the narrow sense of bringing tax dollars and retail sales to the adjacent shopping districts and as a symbol of Oakland as a vibrant, tolerant place - as a brand builder - then deciding who pays for what is not as self evident as AIM's critics say.
A 3: RFPs sometimes produce fair outcomes. But the process itself is no guarantee. It’s a classic exercise in GIGO: garbage in garbage out. Since the proponents of this particular RFP are hostile to AIM, an RFP under their influence will be designed to eliminate or disadvantage AIM.
Moreover, it’s useful to take a look at what one proponent has called the no-RFP movement. That is, they are opposed to RFPs in general. These critics of RFPs point out the general weakness in the process, some of which have direct relevance to the attacks on AIM. Following, evaluations of the RFP process:
VIEW 1: For the past 7 years I have lived on the vendor side. I have been the recipient of multiple RFPs and spent thousands of hours trying to fit our solution into the clients’ process and perspective. My conclusion is that there are 5 major things wrong with RFPs that do not end up accomplishing the goal. These include:
* Eliminating Vendors Expertise – An RFP generally asks vendors to fit their solution into a box. This tends to eliminate the vendors’ expertise around their product and probably doesn’t lead to better prices.
* RFPs are Biased – RFP’s are often written to favor one particular vendor – making them somewhat biased and not leading to transparency in the decision making process.
* Partnership – RFP’s tend to eliminate the ability for a client and vendor to actually partner and communicate about an opportunity or problem. (MR: Since AIM is doing a good job, the City should work with AIM directly before looking elsewhere.)
* Eliminates Innovation – the process tends to eliminate creativity and best practices from the discussion.
In fact, in most cases we have stopped participating in RFP’s because ... the RFP generally eliminates our ability to sit down and engage in a conversation with the client.
Using RFPs to select vendors makes as much sense as shopping for a car blindfolded. If you're looking for creative solutions, why use a process that removes creativity? Proposals only tell you how good a vendor is at writing proposals. The No RFPs movement, started on the heels of SXSW 2012, is continuing to catch on.
Too Much Emphasis and Focus on Superficial Things
I’m 6′ 2", played football in college, and have a law degree from Stanford.
Not really. But it sounded good, right?
Throw in a picture of a guy with dark eyes and great hair, and pretty soon I’m someone’s soul mate.
The RFP process does the same thing. If the responding proposal lets the client check off enough boxes (budget, timing, experience, technology), it starts to feel like a match.