Questions and criticism overshadow Summer Concert Series approval

Clint Holland, the operator of KRA LLC, speaks to the Keizer City Council at a Nov. 19 meeting. (KEIZERTIMES/Joey Cappelletti)

The Keizer City Council voted at the Jan. 18 meeting to continue its Summer Concert Series partnership with the Clint Holland-run KRA — but not before the controversial process was further questioned and criticized by councilors. 

“I have lots of questions that still remain unanswered about the process and I don’t know if I’ll ever get them fully answered since I wasn’t a part of the process from beginning to end,” said newly elected councilor Shaney Starr. “I do think, from what I read and watched, that there were many opportunities along the way for things to have been done differently and maybe have been done better.”

KRA has operated the Summer Concert Series since 2013 but the Keizer Chamber of Commerce was set to take over the operation this year after independent evaluators recommended the Chamber’s proposal over KRA’s.

At a Dec. 6 meeting, the council opted to restart the proposal process after Holland claimed, and the city confirmed, that proposal was sent by the city to the wrong address and Holland didn’t receive it until Aug. 19 — six days after the Chamber received it and 11 days until the deadline. 

After resubmitting proposals, KRA was re-awarded the contract after their proposal was scored higher than the Chamber’s. Keizer Police Chief John Teague, one of the proposal evaluators, noted on his score sheet that “it’s not lost on me that KRA took advantage of reviewing the Chamber’s proposal and, in part, responding to it.”

In a statement following the council’s approval, Keizer Chamber Executive Director Corri Falardeau wished KRA and Holland “the best and we hope that this summer concert series is a fantastic event.”

We hope they are able to do something that’s very special to this community and bring a lot of fun and joy to the area,” Falardeau said. “We also want to encourage readers to look out for special events that the Keizer Chamber is in the park.”

The process was further complicated at the Jan. 18 meeting when councilor Elizabeth Smith brought to light that KRA LLC hasn’t been a registered company in the State of Oregon since 2020. According to Oregon’s business registry, the company was dissolved in September of 2020, almost a year before its contract with the city expired.

This is the second time in the past five months that the council has approved a contract with a company prior to them getting registered in the state of Oregon. The council approved a contract in September with the Prothman Company, a Washington based firm hired to recruit a city manager for the city, prior to them being registered in the state.

While city attorney Shannon Johnson and interim city manager Wes Hare downplayed the issue, saying that Prothman registered in less than 30 minutes, Smith wasn’t convinced.

“A dissolution of an LLC is a little bit more than just a registration with the state of Oregon. There could be additional members involved in that LLC that could have a court claim. That’s not just something we go ‘Not a big deal,’” Smith said. “It gives me great pause on voting on this right now.” 

The council appeared satisfied after Johnson said the city would ensure KRA is registered prior to signing the contract. 

Additional concern was brought up by Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark that Holland, who runs KRA, had listed city employees as references on his application without their approval. At one point, Clark asked city recorder Tracy Davis if she knew that Holland had listed her as a reference, which Davis said she did not. 

Matt Lawyer, a Parks Advisory Board member who was an initial proposal grader, submitted a written public comment that also criticized the process from start to finish. Lawyer, who said that he’s participated in many proposal evaluations before, said that he initially expressed concerns to Johnson about even being on the grading committee. 

“My concerns were that I have actively volunteered with both organizations, have been paid by one of them, was named as a reference for another,” Lawyer wrote. 

Lawyer said that he was reassured that his connections didn’t disqualify him from being an evaluator. Lawyer said he spent over five hours reviewing the original proposals and that when the evaluation was complete “there was a clear objective winner.”

His criticism grew stronger later in the letter to councilors.

“In the case of the first (request for proposal) for the concert series, I feel like Keizer really missed the bar of excellence that I have grown to appreciate and expect. The process was disingenuous to the applicants and the participants of the evaluation committee. It caused unnecessary strife in the community, caused extra work for the staff, and probably set a very negative tone for any future applicants to participate in the Keizer community,” Lawyer wrote.

The council eventually approved the contract by a vote of six to one, with councilor Kyle Juran being the one vote against. The contract will go until Oct. 31, 2024 with the option to renew two additional two year terms.

News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.