SMG Contests Atlantic City RFP

SMG has issued a challenge to the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority’s RFP process in a new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey.

The company, which has provided facility management services for the city’s Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall for the past 17 years, currently holds a contract with the authority that expires at the end of the year.

But it apparently had a problem with the authority’s latest request for proposals – issued in August – which specified that arbitration alone would be used to resolve any disputes over the RFP process.

“As a public entity, the ACCVA is subject to certain state regulations related to its issuance of requests for proposals, the content of any such requests, and the process and methodology for evaluating responses to all requests for proposal,” the suit says.

Thus, state regulations make it “unlawful for the ACCVA to mandate arbitration in connection with ACCVA public procurements and awards.”

A letter sent by SMG attorney Christopher Hartwyk to ACCVA President Jeffrey Vasser raises additional complaints about the RFP process and alleges conflicts of interest among members of the selection committee that reviews the proposals.

One member, John Palmieri, serves as the executive director of the Casino Reinvestment and Development Authority. Another, Liza Cartmell, sits on the Atlantic City Alliance.

Hartwyk’s letter claims the CRDA and ACA have “strong financial ties to the casino industry and no apparent legal authority to act in a capacity to vote on and influence the outcome of an essential government function statutorily delegated to the ACCVA.

“The CRDA and Alliance simply have no legal authority – indeed no business – being involved in, much less scoring and influencing the outcome of a public procurement carried out pursuant to ACCVA’s enabling legislation” and the decision to include them “has cast a specter of impropriety over the entire RFP award.”

ACCVA attorney John Donnelly told the Press Of Atlantic City the RFP process was handled correctly, and added that arbitration is faster and more economical than going to court and is an accepted way to settle disputes.

Both SMG and Global Spectrum responded to the RFP. The selection committee was scheduled to meet Dec. 6 to award the contract, the paper said.