Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman took a major league hit last month at the grand opening of the Big League Dreams sports complex.
The bidding process for the multimillion-dollar project in Gilbert may have violated town and state law by allowing the company that prepared plans for the complex to also bid on the project.
But questions about the process seemed to catch the mayor off guard during the grand opening ceremony Jan. 12.
During an interview with ABC15 News, Berman lashed out at a reporter who asked him if he felt anything illegal had occurred with the construction of the park near Elliot and Power roads.
The mayor evaded many of the reporter’s questions and resorted to name-calling at one point in the interview, when he said ABC15 News had a reputation for being “jerks.” He then ended the interview by ripping off his microphone.
“If you’re saying we broke the law, come out and say it,” Berman said repeatedly.
In 2004, Big League Dreams Consulting was paid $90,000 by the town to prepare a study and plan for the sports park, records show.
The company was then allowed to place a bid for the project.
That is a violation of a Gilbert ordinance, which states that a contract for professional services shall not be awarded to an architect or engineer or anyone who participates in the preparation for a request for proposal or request for qualifications in a contract.
Big League Dreams beat two competing companies for the bid. The project initially was pegged at $22.7 million but the price tag ballooned as the town continued to approve change order requests.
The changes pushed the final price to $40 million, costing taxpayers nearly double the original price.
Berman said he opposed the last two cost hikes.
The mayor avoided answering if the town had done anything wrong, saying multiple times that he didn’t oversee all aspects of the bidding process.
However, at one point Berman responded that he didn’t see a problem with how the process was handled.
“There’s not many people that do what they do,” he said.