Advertisement
  1. News

Tampa buys playground equipment from company that employs parks director's wife

Gametime playground equipment at Henry & Ola Park, 502 W. Henry Avenue in Tampa. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Sep. 12, 2015

TAMPA — The city has purchased tens of thousands of dollars in playground equipment from a company that employs the wife of Tampa's parks and recreation director.

High-ranking city officials knew about the relationship and approved of it. A city attorney says there is no problem with the arrangement.

Under Greg Bayor, the city has purchased playground equipment six times from Dominica Recreation Products, where his wife, Gini, is a territory manager on the sales team.

And although Tampa has not hired Dominica to build any new playgrounds since Gini Bayor was hired by the company in January 2014, the city paid Dominica more than $60,000 for mulch, replacement parts, a rock slide and other equipment.

None of these purchases was the result of a competitive bid process.

Bayor, 67, verbally disclosed the relationship first to former chief of staff Santiago Corrada, then to chief of staff Dennis Rogero and human resources director Kimberly Crum, and no one saw it as a conflict, mayoral aide Christina Barker said.

Officials could find no written documentation for this decision.

That would not have happened if Bayor worked for Hillsborough County, where employees must file a written disclosure if their spouse or immediate family member works for a company that does business with the government.

To override this kind of potential conflict of interest in the county, the matter goes in writing before a department director and human resources, and in some cases, an ad hoc committee.

None of this happens in Tampa, where Bayor filled out a disclosure only for his own interests. Only elected officials must disclose information about a spouse.

Chief Assistant City Attorney Sal Territo said he reviewed the Bayor issue after the Tampa Bay Times started asking questions and found that it was not a conflict. He said the city was doing business with Dominica before Greg Bayor was hired in 2012 and it was the purchasing department's job to order the products, not the parks director's.

"This was an established contract long before he came to work for us," Territo said. "We find no material interest on his part, either directly or indirectly. She's doing her job, which she is paid to do. There is no benefit to her or to him simply because she happens to work there."

Gini Bayor's boss, Rob Dominica, said she meets with customers, visits parks and pitches products. She is salaried and doesn't negotiate deals, he said, because they are done through set prices and contracts.

Since Greg Bayor was hired, Dominica says the company's sales to Tampa fell.

"They've been one of our best customers over the years but not recently," he said. "I would be suspicious, too, if they were buying 10 parks a year and now they're buying 50 because of Gini. But that's just not happening."

Dominica, a distributor for a much larger playground company called GameTime, acts like an intermediary for local governments and arranges for the delivery and installation of products.

On its Web gallery, Dominica showcases more than 100 projects from Florida to Tennessee, including playgrounds in Wesley Chapel, Largo, Plant City, New Port Richey and St. Petersburg. A GameTime news release touts its partnership with Hillsborough County in creating a fitness park in the Northdale Recreation Center this year.

Bayor, who earns about $135,000 a year, was hired in Tampa after two years working in the same position in Baltimore. Officials there say the city made two purchases totaling $35,000 from West Recreation Inc., another playground company where Gini Bayor worked, while Greg Bayor served as parks director.

Both those deals were done through competitive bids.

In Tampa, the city buys from Dominica through a "piggyback contract," which means that another government negotiated the deal and other places can use the same pricing and terms. This is a fairly common arrangement, says purchasing director Gregory Spearman, and that the majority of products Tampa buys are replacement parts.

"We were using this product long before in parks all around the city," Spearman said. "This was something we already had in place before Greg got here."

Regardless of whether the arrangement was or wasn't a conflict, City Council member Lisa Montelione said she would support a move to bring potential conflicts to council when a spouse or immediate family member of a "senior manager with budget and purchasing authority" takes a job with a company that does business with the city.

Ben Wilcox, research director of the Tallahassee government watchdog group Integrity Florida, says Tampa should at least expand its current ethics policy to include these relationships in written disclosures.

"It needs to be more transparent," Wilcox said.

Contact Anthony Cormier at acormier@tampabay.com or Alexandra Zayas at azayas@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Former nursing assistant Falo Kane, 32, of Clearwater, faces seven counts of sexual battery of a physically helpless person. Clearwater police are now looking for more potential victims at other health care facilities. [CLEARWATER POLICE DEPARTMENT]  |  Clearwater Police Department
    Falo Kane is accused of assaulting six patients at four facilities since 2016. Clearwater detectives want to know if there are other victims.
  2. Tonight's LGBTQ Presidential Forum is hosted by Angelica Ross of FX's Pose. Twitter
    A live stream of the event and what to watch for as 10 candidates meet on stage in Iowa.
  3. A company called Flock Safety is selling automatic license plate readers to neighborhood associations to cut down on crime, and Tampa neighborhood Paddock Oaks is one of their customers. Pictured is a Flock camera on Paddock Oaks Dr. | [Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Atlanta-based Flock Safety has provided 14 area communities with high-speed, high-definition cameras for surveillance.
  4. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  5. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  6. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
  7. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  8. Terry Spencer carries his daughter, Trinity, through high water on 59th Street near Stewart Road in Galveston, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, as heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda caused street flooding on the island. JENNIFER REYNOLDS  |  AP
    Although the amount of predicted rainfall is massive — forecasters say some places could see 40 inches or more this week.
  9. This April 2001 photo, which appeared in a newsletter from the West Point Grey Academy, shows a costumed Justin Trudeau, his face and hands darkened by makeup, attending an "Arabian Nights" gala. The academy is a private school in Vancouver, B.C., where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. (West Point Grey Academy/The Canadian Press via AP)
    A few Southern politicians responded to similar scandals recently with denials, apologies, and promises. Most of them have managed to stay in office.
  10. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement