Drama surrounding management of Shreveport’s community pools continues; owner of ROCK SOLID claims retaliation
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - With near record-breaking heat and summer right around the corner, it’s almost time for families to head to the pools. But the big question on the minds of many is who will manage Shreveport’s pools come summertime?
The conflict between ROCK SOLID and the City of Shreveport continues, after a single meeting sparked an alleged backdoor deal. There are new developments in the saga that only seems to be heating up, now with claims of retaliation.
During the week of May 9, Shelley McMillian, the owner of ROCK SOLID, said her bid for the contract was rejected. This comes after McMillian says schedules were already finalized and staff was hired for the upcoming season. Now, community members are raising questions as to how the city made this choice and what the other company has to offer.
McMillian says her program has helped thousands of kids in the community and now, it’s being ripped out from under her just weeks before pools were slated to open. After hiring lifeguards, staff, and planning programs for the current season, McMillian said in a social media post she believes the mayor’s move stems from a lunch she had with another Shreveport mayoral candidate.
McMillian took to Facebook Thursday, May 12 and said the following:
“on may 3rd I went to lunch with a great group of community leaders to plan a summer event for the youth of our community! An event that is second to none! Apparently someone saw me there with Mario Chavez who has thrown his hat into the ring for mayor! Not one minute of our meeting was about who was mayor and who was trying to be mayor! However, it is confirmed by a city council person to local media that someone saw me there with this group and reported it to the mayor!”
“The next day were the evaluations on the city pools! Pretty simple evaluations, yet we got hammered by not knowing how to run programs that we created!” the post goes on to say.
According to the City of Shreveport, a letter of intent was submitted to USA Management, which is based in Atlanta. City officials say the contract was put up for bid and several companies submitted applications. Officials say the applications that qualified were reviewed and scored by a committee. KSLA obtained copies of those score sheets. On them, out of 100 points, ROCK SOLID was given scores of 90, 58, and even as low as a 31 by the evaluators. Those lower points were given in the areas of “understanding the problems” and “needs of the project,” and “an inability to commit a capable staff,” among other reasons, while USA Management scored a 95, 93, and a 75 out a 100.
At this time, it’s still unclear who those committee members are that participated in the scoring. KSLA reached out to the City of Shreveport and Mayor Adrian Perkins for comment following McMillian’s claims that ROCK SOLID’s low scores are in retaliation for her lunch with Chavez. In response, the city released a statement saying:
“The City of Shreveport is working to adhere to state statutes and city ordinances, policies, and procedures. Previously, the management of SPAR pools was considered a professional service, but it has been determined that it does not fall into that category. A Request for Proposal (RFP) should have been solicited for this city service as the contract was greater than $29,999, based on the City’s purchasing policy. We will continue reviewing all contracts to ensure that we are compliant with state and local laws. This was a fair and consistent process that was based on state guidelines. It was administered in the same manner as the dozens of requests for proposals that have been conducted annually by the Purchasing Department for all City departments.”
The city’s decision on the contract is not sitting well with some members of the city council. Earlier this week, Shreveport City Councilman John Nickelson took to Facebook saying:
“The city’s recent decision to award a contract for management of its pools to Atlanta-based USA Management has generated significant public controversy this week. I was not involved in the decision as a council member... Councilman Grayson Scott Boucher and I have requested the purchasing department’s complete file on this contract. After we have received and reviewed that information, we will be in a position to identify and address and deficiencies in the selection process.”
According to the city, the new contractor for the pools will provide and compensate all necessary lifeguards, pool managers, and maintenance personnel to operate pools at David Raines, Querbes, Bill Cockrell, Airport and Southern Hills community centers. City officials also confirm the pools will be open in June. KSLA has also submitted a public records request for the bids from both ROCK SOLID and USA Management to compare the numbers.
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