Remember the fire truck purchase debacle? As a refresher on November 26, 2013 the Glendale city council accepted a grant of $425,000 from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community for the purchase of a new fire truck. Typically grants such as these are good for a year from the date of award.

On January 28, 2014 the purchase of said fire truck was on the council voting agenda for approval. The fire truck’s purchase price was $484,206.92. The price was $59,206.92 greater than the grant awarded to pay for it.  It was to be purchased cooperatively using a Houston‐Galveston Area Council (HGAC) purchase agreement. An RFP was to have been issued to solicit local bids but that never occurred. Why an RFP was not used has never been answered satisfactorily.

During the Public Comment portion of the January 28, 2014 council meeting a representative of Freightliner spoke of the irregularities he encountered in attempting to satisfy specifications for the fire truck purchase. After the meeting Fire Chief Burdick went ballistic on this gentlemen in the City Hall lobby. The Freightliner rep’s comments raised enough eyebrows that City Manager Brenda Fischer pulled the item from the agenda.  She determined and communicated to council that she would investigate and an RFP would be issued.

Three months later and you can throw those city manager pledges out the window. Word has sifted out from the usually tightly fortified City Hall that the very same fire truck purchase will be up for city council approval sometime this June.

Apparently the Human Resources Department was tasked with investigating any fire employee improprieties in the process and found none. Even if there had been something discovered, it would have been handled internally and neither council nor the public would have been informed.

The reasons given by Tom Duensing, Executive Director for Finances, for reverting to the old process are: 1. Not enough time and 2. Not enough people to manage an RFP. If you buy these reasons I have a bridge in Brooklyn for you. There is already enough information to dust off and to write an RFP in short order. But let’s for argument’s sake, say it took a month to write it. It could be issued by the end of May 2014. Typically an RFP requires 45 days for responses. That gets us to the middle of July 2014. The successful response would then be presented to council for final approval no later than September 2014 (as council vacates either the month of July or the month of August). The grant award is good until November of 2014.

As for lack of people to manage an RFP… Come on, really? Council recently authorized two more bodies in the Purchasing and Procurement Department. Somehow or other the city has managed to issue timely RFPs for a host of other items all this time.

If the City Manager had acted responsively after she pulled the item in January of 2014, at this June 2014 meeting council would be acting on a successful response to an RFP issuance instead of resurrection of the original scheme.

So much for the representations of a new era of governance by senior staff. It’s merely the same old game with new players.

© Joyce Clark, 2014


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