Cobble Hill

LICH bidder Trindade files a protest with state Comptroller

Claims SUNY changed language in RFP

July 9, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Another bidder raised a protest about SUNY's sale of Brooklyn's LICH to developer Fortis. Photo by Mary Frost
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Another protest has been raised about SUNY’s sale of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) to developer Fortis Property Group.

Trindade Value Partners, one of nine groups in the final RFP round for the Cobble Hill hospital campus, is appealing SUNY’s June 16 rejection of its protest lodged in April.

Trindade’s $210 million bid to build a full-service hospital, though ranked high by a technical panel, was downgraded by SUNY’s separate financial panel, leaving it ranked sixth overall. In May, Trindade added $90 million to its bid.

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Derek Oubre, Trindade’s president and CEO, in a letter to SUNY and the New York State Comptroller’s Bureau of Contracts said SUNY’s determination “flies in the face of the Hon. Justice Johnny Lee Baynes’s Stipulation and Order . . . and violates both the ‘intent’ and ‘exact language’” of the order. “ Their response shows “intentional misfeasance,” he added.

Oubre said there were both legal and mathematical problems with SUNY’s RFP (Request for Proposals) process.

Among other issues, Oubre accused SUNY accepting proposals from offerors who didn’t provide evidence of sufficient funds to renovate the hospital or build a new one, or provide accurate renovation or construction costs in their proposals. 

SUNY, in their determination, told Oubre that the RFP didn’t require this information in the initial proposal, but merely prior to closing.

Oubre responded that SUNY’s RFP required from an offeror “upon submission of its proposal” evidence of sufficient financing.

On another front, Oubre protested the award of LICH to a developer not planning a hospital at the site. While the original intent of the revised RFP was to give more points to hospital proposals and less to plans eliminating the hospital, Fortis Property Group plans to demolish the hospital to develop condos. (Fortis will also lease some space to NYU-Langone for a “stand-alone ER,” clinics and doctors’ offices, services the community calls inadequate.)

In its reply to this point, SUNY fell back upon state Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes’ determination that the outcome of the bid ranking process was “consistent with the Stipulation and Order and the RFP.”

Another contention Oubre makes is that the method SUNY employed to weight the evaluation scores was mathematically incorrect.

Oubre asserts that SUNY used a “relative weight” formula. “But there’s two ways to weigh numbers – absolute and relative weightings. Relative weighting favors SUNY, whereas absolute weighting favors the community. SUNY uses averages to calculate the totals. Therefore, SUNYs method does not weight the total score,” he said.

SUNY called Trindade’s mathematical analysis wrong, however, saying the “cumulative property of multiplication (a × b = b × a), where a is the weighting factor and b is the score, assures that the order for multiplication does not change the outcome.”

Oubre says not only is there no “cumulative property of multiplication” (it should be commutative), the problem goes beyond the math.

In his letter to the state Comptroller, Oubre contends that SUNY changed the language in the RFP, making it subtly different than the language in Justice Baynes’ Stipulation and Order, which the RFP was supposed to be based upon.

Oubre contends that SUNY added the words “relative weight” to the RFP language when these words did not exist in the Stipulation and Order.

“The language [in the Stipulation and Order] does not say anything about a ‘relative weight.’  In fact it says nothing about SUNY having a ‘relative’ percentage of any kind,” he wrote.

“It’s a clear violation of state law with the intent to benefit SUNY and defraud the community,” he told the Eagle. “The methodology used changed the results.” If SUNY had followed the rules, Trindade would have won the bid for LICH, he said.

SUNY spokesperson David Doyle, when asked to comment on the issues raised by Oubre, said, “The Fortis deal is moving forward and was negotiated and signed under the terms of the RFP and the stipulation and order. There is a well defined process to file protests to the RFP which has and will be adhered to.‎”

Oubre feels that the solution to providing a hospital to northwestern Brooklyn “may lie in a joint venture. They have a difficult time arguing that no new beds are needed. We need to move forward with a 300-bed hospital, ambulatory care, specialty care and a women’s hospital, and I have the financial wherewithal to do it.”

Update: Oubre must appeal to SUNY first on the SUNY denial of his protest, according to the state Comptroller’s office. If SUNY denies his appeal, he would he then be able to appeal to the Comptroller. The Comptroller has no set time limit to review that protest — not 10 days, as originally reported.

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