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Councilmember Makes Decision To No Longer Cater For City Of West University Place

August 2, 2010 By:InstantNewsWestu Staff

Local News

Councilmember George Boehme has decided that Edloe Street Café and Deli or Edloe Café Express will no longer do catering for the city of West University Place.

During a city council special session on July 19, Mayor Bob Kelly said the city is seen in a negative light for having Edloe Street Café and Deli as the concessionaire for Colonial Park Pool. He told council that he hoped staff would reach out to other vendors when choosing a caterer for city events.

Kelly made his comments during a city council special session discussion about the consumption and sales of alcohol at the recreation center for the Harris County Mayors and Councils Association meeting on Aug. 19. The ordinance to allow the consumption and sales of alcohol for the event at the rec center was approved. Edloe Café Express was chosen as the caterer for that event.

Kelly said he thought other vendors should have been considered for the Harris County Mayors and Councils Association meeting.

“We came under criticism about Edloe Deli being the concessionaire at Colonial Park,” Kelly said during the July 19 special session. “Edloe Deli is not the sole concessionaire for the entire city.”

The city receives 28 percent of the gross receipts from the concession at Colonial Park Pool. Kelly said the city should see if other businesses would be willing to give the city 28 percent for their services.

West U City Council unanimously approved Edloe Street Café’ and Deli as the concessionaire for Colonial Park Pool during its April 12 meeting. Edloe Street Café’ and Deli was the only business to bid on the Colonial Park concessionaire contract.

“We didn’t talk to Little Matt’s; we didn’t talk to Tiny Boxwood,” Kelly said in regards to the Aug. 19 event. “I’m concerned with how West U citizens are perceiving us.”

City Manager Michael Ross said the city uses their concessionaires if they meet the needs of the city and does not use Edloe Street Café’ and Deli for everything.

“We need to broaden the field because that’s where we got criticism before,” Kelly said. “With a council members business involved, it looks better.”

This discussion and what followed in the comments section of InstantNewsWestU, has led to Boehme’s decision to no longer cater for the city of West U. To read the July 19 city council story click here.

“The Mayor has created a situation where it is uncomfortable,” Boehme said. “I think it was terribly irresponsible to make comments without the facts.”

“Our decision evolves from Mayor Kelly’s recent erroneous statements like, ‘My (Kelly’s) concern is continuing to use a Councilman’s business for City functions to the exclusion of others without giving others a chance to make us an offer,’” Boehme said.

Boehme said Mayor Kelly created an “illusion of impropriety” that Edloe Street Café and Deli or Edloe Café Express is getting all the catering jobs while other vendors are not.

Boehme said he has done less catering while he has been a member of council than before he was on council.

“There are as many as a half-dozen restaurants that have provided more catering to West U since I have been on the city council, and I believe each of those is located outside West University Place,” he said.

Boehme said the Mayor encouraged Edloe Street Café and Deli to bid on the Colonial Park Pool concessionaire and if he had showed any concern they wouldn’t have bid.

“The Mayor said things that weren’t true,” Boehme said. “We’re just not going to do it.”

When asked for his comment on Edloe Street Café and Deli no longer catering for the city, Mayor Kelly sent InstantNewsWestU this response:

“I stand by my concern of a business, Edloe Deli, owned by a Council Member being selected by staff as the food vendor for the upcoming Harris Council Mayor Council dinner without asking other food vendors to consider the work. That Edloe Deli was so selected is a fact and was no fabrication.

The reason it was my opinion that other food vendors should have been asked to consider the work was not that there was any legal requirement to do so, but instead to more than make sure that there was no perception that the City was showing any favoritism to a business owned by a Council Member. This is of course holding Edloe Deli to a higher standard then that of other food vendors, but it is my opinion that when a Council Member (including the Mayor)

18 Responses to “Councilmember Makes Decision To No Longer Cater For City Of West University Place”

  1. Mayor Bob Kelly Says:

    Mary Ellen, excellent points. If fact, I have already been talking to Mike Ross, City Manager, about almost the same thing. Now that Edloe Deli has given notice that they will no long bid on the Colonial Park Pool concession, the City needs to seriously consider a more basic affordable food operation for next season. The types of food you suggest would fit within that framework. Also, your donation concept might also work….as well as youth helping to operate the facility. I agree that the City needs to think about all these things….and get back to basic food for a “family pool”. Sounds like you might be a good person to be on a committee this fall to come up with some recommendations. Interested?

    Georgetown Gardener, the City already does what you suggest. That would be nothing new. Also, I have been advised that the sales tax comes to the City…as the point of sales controls, not the location of the food business.

    O’Hara, yes I love coffee. But, more than coffee, I love to take the time to sit down with our citizens, one on one, and talk about things in the City that concern them. While I still spend several hours a week doing so, I would suspect that before the recreational facitlities bond election I was spending about 15 hours a week doing so. So, if you have the time, and would like to get some in depth info on some City matters, send me an email. I’ll even buy the coffee.

  2. Mary Ellen Aylward Wolf Says:

    I’ve been in TX Children’s Hospital since July 28th w/ another son who’s just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes…after awhile one becomes a bit stir crazy…so I began reading the WestU concession stand drama. Which I have to say has been a nice distraction for me since being around children who have chronic and/or incurable diseases; these posts have helped me think about the reason why we (the community members) even have a ‘concession stand’ at the pool.
    It’s also been interesting to read (ok; I was a bit bored waiting for test results) the elected officials and West residents comments…as I mention the postings became a mere distraction from seeing kids with cancer, chronic diseases, not to mention looking at exhausted & distraught parents; okay, now back to a real problem…the concession stand
    Here’s my two cents; I thought the concession stand was about the kids at the pool…and if all goes according to plan; like any good business; some money is made. All are good things; happy kids, summer food, & a company being in the black not the red.
    Here’s an idea; just like West U trains the life guards; teens/young adults to be responsible. Let’s make the pool concession stand an education & learning experience for the tweens, teens & young adults in our city….gosh, hire me to over ‘see’ the teens…I’m ‘just’ an educator and former school director; you’ll get a good deal…Just some off the wall thoughts for ‘fun food’ for the kids.
    1) Make PB & J/grilled cheese sandwiches; hot dogs, cheap burgers
    2) Homemade lemonade; drinks; ice water
    3) Selling bagged chips
    4) Homemade cookies
    5) Home grown vegetables from west u home gardens
    6) Shave ice that not’s $3.00
    And then donate some of the ‘extra ‘money after the city makes some (if there’s any left over to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and cancer)
    Not that I expect one city council member to contact me, a mom and ‘just an educator’ to even discuss ANY kid, tween or teen friendly ideas for the WestU concession stand; I had my first business at 16; if someone in Kailua, HI hadn’t given me the chance to try something, how would I have learned about ‘venders’, customer service and just plain old how a company works…right now the adults seem to be having some ‘issues’ about a pool concession stand…let’s keep it simple or back to the basics.
    Seriously…if I hadn’t been in TX children’s 24/7 for the past week…I would never even have read these ‘news’ flashes…
    so…bring it on…could we ‘the adults’; ‘the politicians’ in the community do us a favor and set something up that is created by the tweens/teens, run by the tweens/teens…then that money whether it’s 75% or 28% of $$$ be donated or put back into a community garden, reading center…if you need any tween/teen ideas…call or wait; I’ll let you know when James is discharged…just ‘food for thought’
    It’s a pool concession stand; it’s supposed to have fun food fun, fast & not a lot of $$$. Remember; it’s all about the kids not the adults…I know that’s hard for people to remember
    If it’s even worth that much: it’s about not having to worry about unemployment, wars, drugs, etc…

    Looking forward to hearing from the ‘politicians’ in the community, who usually just send me a form letter that says…’thanks for your interest in wanting to help the WestU community’ but we don’t need your help at this time or apparently ever and we’ve lived in WestU since…1989!
    Happily, we’ve been released from TX Children’s…so we’re one happy Wolf clan…council members, please feel free to contact me, if you are REALLY interested in having the concession stand be about the kids having summer time fun at the West U pool….new elections come & go; other wanna be politicians come along but more importantly little kids will go to the pool and bug their parents to buy something at the concession stand. Let’s remember to keep the fun factory in the pool and the recreation center, not ‘who got the account’…just saying
    p.s. do not let me know how many typos or grammatical errors I’ve made…it’s just a post not a dissertation…
    Warm regards,

    Mary Ellen Aylward Wolf, M.Ed.
    Co-founder & Summer Director
    Po’no Ragazzi International Academy 501(c)(3)
    IB of the Americas mentor & consultant
    6404 Buffalo Speedway
    Houston, Texas 77005
    713.493.6346 office 281.300.7602 phone

    http://www.ponoragazzi.com/
    http://twitter.com/wolfme
    http://www.facebook.com/maryellen.a.wolf
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/mewolf

  3. Mayor Bob Kelly Says:

    Did I say “should make no effort”? Please re-read my comments above. Again, send me an email and lets do coffee. As your comments strongly suggest, these types of communications are not the best for making and understanding the points one is trying to make. I think you will find interesting how many hours a week I spend promoting all aspects of West U. We’ll cover that at our coffee.

  4. Mayor Bob Kelly Says:

    Sorry in advance for typo errors above….still trying to get the hang of this new computer. Thought I hit spell check, but guess I didn’t. Was just in a hurry to get the message posted before I had to run to a meeting. Again, any one who would like to meet for coffee, just email me at bkelly@westu.org. We cover more ground at coffee.

  5. Mayor Bob Kelly Says:

    Rich in his comment above on Aug 3 at 10:30 pm makes a very valid point. There are citizens in West U who also pay West U taxes, just as our businesses do, who work and/or own food businesses outside of West U. I will not name them, but these businesses have strongly supported the City, West U Elementry, West U Little League/Soccer/Softball/Football, Churches in West U, etc. Also, many of our citizens have very strong relationships to these food businesses outside of West U as they have been going to many of them for over 30 years. To start showing favoritism for our City food business towards food businesses that are located in West U is indeed a slippery slope as pointed out by Rich. I have no problem promoting West U businesses, and have done so as President of West U Soccer, President of West U Elementry, Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem of West U. But for the City to make a policy of favoristism in the selection of its food business would be a real problem. There is thus a reason the City has not done so in the past….ie it has not just been a oversight. This is not like selecting your own child to cut your yard. West U is its own city, but our relationships with Bellaire, Southside, Houston, and other area cities and their citizens/businesses is a delicate balance. It is indeed a great honor that Mayor Pro Tem Bob Fry as just been elected President of the Harris County Mayor Council Association. That he was so choosen is a reflection of how well our City works with other cities and their citizens and businesses. So, Rich, in my opinion you hit the nail right on the head.

  6. west u rez Says:

    Gardener, All other things equal, yes agree with you 100%. Otherwise tax payers could be put in a situation where we potentially lose money on the deal (potentially paying more for services vs. biz tax income). Also, the business should not be owned by an individual who has ties to city administration.

  7. west u rez Says:

    “In the bigger picture, I am thinking about introducing a resolution that requests the City Manager give first consideration to local businesses in all the city’s procurement practices.”

    Agree but as long as the business owner does not serve in the city administration in any way, shape or fashion. If not, we have just opened the door for potentially unethical business practices.

  8. west u rez Says:

    “I see no reason in the world to exclude superbly qualified local businesses simply because the owners are willing to sacrifice their time and energy by serving on city council.”

    No sacrifices here. As far as I know the 2010 Budget includes ~$175k for City Council SALARIES, legal fees and election expenditures. That is paid with our tax dollars. In addition, city employees ultimately report to the adiministrators, city council included.

    If you are the administrator of a public hospital and you have a catering business doing business with the hospital, it would look really bad if the Houston Chronicle gets a hold of that story.

    If ANY business owner (not just West U biz owner) decides to serve in West U administration and then wants their business to do business with the City, that’s a potential (if not huge) conflict of interest. I don’t care if there is a bidding process or not. The people making the decisions ultimately report to the administrators and that could lead to conflicts of interest and ultimately a potential waste our tax dollars. Need to tread very carefully here. The city council member’s decision is the right one given the circumstances. I am just surprised the council member was able to do business with the City while being in the City Council IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    If this simple business/administration ethic is not clear, perhaps it should be written in the city rules.

    I agree we need to promote local businesses, but that is not the point here. We need to be objective. The point here is the ethics of the situation at hand (or that we used to have at hand).

  9. Conrad Says:

    There’s nothing wrong with a local business providing food to our city under a bid-based system from which the owner has abstained from voting. Who cares if he is on city council? He didn’t vote on his own contract. And goodness knows, our local business base has stuggeled to stay in the black. We should promote local businesses not undermine them.

    • west u rez Says:

      As a West U resident, I CARE. A city official’s business should not be engaged on doing business with the City he is helping manage. If the process is blind bidding, etc it does not matter. The people making the actual decision are humans who need a job and could feel that they need to give the business to the city administrator. Not saying that is going on but we need to protect everyone involved and not put them in that situation.

      We need to promote local business, 100% agree. But this particular situation is very tricky and we need to tread carefully here.

      Regardless, the council member is going not to do business with the city anymore…which is the ethical thing to do while he is in office.

  10. Rich Says:

    I am sure there are people in West U who operate businesses that do business in places like Bellaire, Houston, Southside, etc. that would take great offence if these cities eliminated them from consideration simply just because they were based in West U. Considering the opposite approach is short sighted and potentially a slippery slope.

  11. david Says:

    George I still think you could have been succesful at the pool if you lowered your prices. And please make sure Mathews and tiny boxwood get their liqour licenses…

  12. geeez Says:

    Overkill Councilman Boehme. I knew before I finished the article you were going to pull out of the pool concessions. I don’t think you can blame that or any of your actions on the Mayor. What’s next? Stepping down from the city council or selling Edloe Deli because the Mayor hurt your feelings? You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Go hide beyond the tall shrubs until they’re trimmed to 36 inches.

  13. David Kyle Says:

    Councilman Boehme and Mayor Kelley should kiss and make-up over sandwiches at POTBELLY Sandwich Shop, a soon to be contributor to West U tax basis. Maybe they should be the next bidder on concessions?

    • Lucille Gallman Says:

      What about a beer summit at the new Recreation Center like President Obama held to help the professor and policeman mend fences? Of course, there would be a problem as to what company could or should provide the beer.

  14. another west u resident Says:

    I think that is small minded nonsense. Boehme has provided excellent service and food at the pool and appears to be doing so at a very small profit or a loss. The pool concession was open to all bidders and NO ONE except Boehme even bothered to submit a bid. In my own opinion we (as a city) should not only not exclude any West-U businesses from bidding, but should, in fact, give preference for city work to businesses located (and paying taxes) in the city.

    Further, there is a lot of sole-source contracting within government agencies for small contracts like the Mayor Council Dinner because it simply saves a city or county money to not have to go through the whole bidding process for minimal possible savings. I don’t know that that is what happened here, but I’m not opposed to it if it did.

    For all publically bid work as long as all relationships are known and all parties with interests abstain from voting, I see no reason in the world to exclude superbly qualified local businesses simply because the owners are willing to sacrifice their time and energy by serving on city council. We need to encourage our local business leaders to become involved in City government, not punish their businesses because they do.

    • Another west u resident 2 Says:

      Excellent response “another west u resident”…I completely agree with your statements!

  15. west u resident Says:

    A council member’s business should not be doing ANY business with the City. Boehme’s decision to withdraw from servicing the city is welcome. There is simply too much conflict of interest for everyone involved.

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