City Vending Machines – Is it party money?

By:  Diane Benjamin

Earlier this month the City of Bloomington claimed the Public Works party was financed with employee money from vending machine profits:   https://blnnews.com/2018/06/04/party-at-public-works/

I FOIA’d the City vending machine contracts, of course my FOIA was extended.  Yesterday I received two contracts dated in 2004.

This one is for vending machine products other than soda:   HOI Vending Contract_2004

It says the City will receive a 10% commission on all sales payable once a month.  If that is the money Public Works used for their party, they used City money.  The contract is with the City of Bloomington, not employees.

Then there is this contract with Pepsi:   Pepsi Letter of Agreement_05012004

The contract was in effect for 10 years or until the City had purchased 67,000 – 20 oz cases of Pepsi products.  If the 67,000 case had not been purchased in 10 years, the contract remained in force until they did.  I received nothing showing either contract ended or was renegotiated.  The City received a signing bonus of $50,000 – deemed to apply to the entire length of the contract ($5,000 per year).

Keep in mind I FOIA’d vending machine contracts, not Pepsi’s defunct sponsorship of the former Pepsi Ice Center which was $50,000 per year for naming rights.  67,000 sounds like a lot of product, but break it down.  67,000 / 10 years is 6,700 a year.  If employees work 5 days a week for a year that’s 260 days.  6,700/260  is only 26 per day.  Vending machines may be located at other places, not just Public Works.

The bottom is:

  • Either the City has no up to date agreements for the vending machines at Public Works or I didn’t get them
  • The vending machines are located on Public Property which means profits are City money, not the property of public works employees
  • Even if employees bought or contracted the machines and bought the products for employees to purchase, profits would still not belong to them since the machines are on City property.  That would be like Tari Renner selling artwork from his City office:   https://blnnews.com/2014/05/05/pay-to-play-okay-if-nobody-prosecutes/

Renner figured out pretty fast that his announcement was illegal.  The last I heard is the artwork is still in his office but buyers are referred to the gallery that placed it there.

Public Works need to change their policy too.  Just because it’s always been done this way doesn’t make it legal.

Why did the City of Bloomington not know this?

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11 thoughts on “City Vending Machines – Is it party money?

  1. I was at McDonald’s this morning at 7:40. There was a City of Bloomington Water Department Truck in line behind me and another City of Bloomington Truck pulling in the drive when I pulled out. I wonder if the vending machine funds pay for the gas they use going through the drive thru? Also wonder if they were on the clock. Can’t imagine my employer being ok with me using a company vehicle to go get breakfast.

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    1. I bet if you FOIA the HR policy regarding employees you would find out that even if they weren’t on the clock, it’s illegal to use city property for personal use.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Are you suggesting on break time they drive back downtown, park the truck and then take their break and then get back in their truck and drive to the east side and pick up where they were…….hmm, good thing you are not implementing policies.

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  2. From your article, “It says the City will receive a 10% commission on all sales payable once a month. If that is the money Public Works used for their party, they used City money. The contract is with the City of Bloomington, not employees.”

    It’s amazing how much spin and outright lies the City STILL employs when addressing your inquiries as though they think you’ll buy it. Liars just got a bad habit of never knowing when to quit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is this the “culture change” that Gleason will address? I know that Steve R was working on these things. It is no wonder some of the employees aren’t happy with him. The Council hasn’t given him a chance. Gleason is a “hands off” Manager. That management style breeds behavior like this. Gleason believes tax dollars can be spent for personal use.

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  4. Scenario #1: a mom brings in a Girl Scout cookie sign up sheet and leaves it on Breakroom table, at the city? Legal or illegal

    #2: guy brings in different cases of pop/soda and says there $0.50 a can at the city, profit goes for employees flowers/ funerals? Legal or illegal

    #3: union has there own vending machine & stocks with there own money, profit goes for cookouts? Legal or illegal

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    1. Did the union buy the vending machine? have a contract with whoever supplied it? Employees shouldn’t have been able to contract with a vending company to place anything on public property. Doing any business on public property not for the benefit of citizens is illegal. Not to worry though when a fake cop didn’t get prosecuted and we are still waiting for the mayor to be charged almost a year later

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