When deals CAN NOT wait

Trying to figure out how to get a city council to approve a parking deal? You’re not the only one who’s ever done so. In 2008, Jacob Frydman, preferred bidder for a concession in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was trying to get the city’s seven council members to approve a $215 million offer he had made them. As evidenced by an email he sent to the entire city council on the morning of 9 September 2008, these deals can stir up quite some passion:

“Council should act quickly to finalize a report on the Parking system. The deal on the table CAN NOT WAIT. I suggest that it is your civic responsibility to act now and not jeopardize a deal that will have long-term positive economic impact on the City . . .

I fear that if you do not act expeditiously to choose a firm to undertake the study you promised the voters in June, and if as a result we are unable or unwilling to wait for council to spend another 4 or 5 months (or even another 4 weeks) to get around to doing what is generally a perfunctory task, we may simply conclude that Harrisburg is not a place where business can be done, and we will need to re-think whether this type of response from the government officials to the single most important deal Harrisburg has ever been provided the opportunity to become involved in – justifies our further investment of time or money, and whether we are better off looking to other communities in which to invest . . .

We, and all the citizens and taxpayers of Harrisburg, are looking to you – will you act responsibly as leaders of this City – or will you let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass you by, and forever set the tone for how business is conducted in Harrisburg?”

For some reason, scarcely three months later, the city council members who received the email unanimously voted down the deal. And two years later, Frydman’s firm was still trying to close on the deal.