City's Proposed Contract to Roland Williams Questioned

The City of Rochester wants to pay former NFL player and East High School graduate Roland Williams $250,000 for a 10-day football camp and year-long mentoring program.

But at least one councilwoman has concerns. Carolee Conklin questions why no Request for Proposals was issued.

"It is to protect the integrity of city taxpayers dollars to assure there's no favoritism involved and that everyone has an equal chance to submit a proposal to do something," said Conklin.

The mayor said Williams didn't need to submit an RFP because of his unique qualifications.

"When you're looking for a specialty service and you have someone that has the professionalism and also the expertise he has to provide not only the leadership around football but also around mentoring and other things," said warren. "He's done it here before and we're so very proud he's coming here to do it again."

Williams was last awarded a contract from the city in 2001 and was paid $10,000.

Conklin questions the administrative costs. The proposal calls for $76,000 to be spent on administrative fees. She  is also concerned the program doesn't address the needs of girls, safety issues regarding the sport and she questions whether Williams has the infrastructure in place. His plan calls for recruiting 100 male mentors.

"It's a very ambitious timeframe," said Conklin. "It's scheduled to start in less than a month and I certainly don't have any information on how that can be off and running in the first week of July."

Williams said he has identified community partners. He considers the $250,000 to be seed money for a pilot program he hopes to grow and be sustained. 

 "I'm going to be leveraging and getting support from others," he said.

Williams lives in Los Angeles, but his father lives in Rochester. 

"I'm going to be here as much as I possibly can and so the good news is is that we have a team and it's about empowering a team and building it together so it will be great," Williams said.

The city had scheduled an 11:30 a.m. news conference to announce the Williams initiative. It was canceled because of City Council's concerns. Councilman Adam McFadden was among the critics. McFadden met with Williams when the press conference was supposed to occur. He is now on board, believing the program will be in-depth and worth the expenditure. The mayor introduced Williams during a 1 p.m. news conference on an unrelated matter. 

Williams' program was originally supposed to be a collaboration between the city and the Rochester City School District. But sources say talks fell apart over how much the district would have to contribute. Eventually, the city decided to go it alone with Williams.

Meanwhile, the district may still hire Williams for a summer program. The superintendent proposed a $550,000 increase in athletic spending for the 2014-15 school year, but the board reduced the amount to $250,000. Sources say Williams and the district have not agreed on what services he would provide and what he would be paid. Williams would not comment.  

"The District is working to allocate these funds in a way that will maximize benefit to our students in our football programs, and we hope to continue working with Mr. Williams to achieve that goal," said a district spokesman in a statement.

This school year, the district hired Williams for $34,000 to perform what it called a comprehensive assessment of its football program. The district said it is working to implement his recommendations, which include modified programs for seventh and eighth graders and equipment upgrades.

City Council votes on the Williams contract next week.

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