Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rogero, Burchett to force E-911 radio vote, special called meeting pending

Madeline Rogero
Well, things are gonna get interesting. I don't know if the E-911 board will approve the multimillion radio contract contract, but members are going to have to vote.

Earlier today I noted that Burchett said he will attend the next meeting and call for a vote. Find it along with all the original details RIGHT SMACK HERE.

A few hours later, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero issued her own release.

Keep in mind, because they both serve on the board, they had to send out separate releases. But, it seems the two are on the same side, and they're seeking a special called meeting. (The board's next one isn't until April 15.)

Here's what Rogero's full statements:

Since the meeting on January 21st, there have been a lot of questions from the public and the media about how and why the motion to approve this contract died without any discussion from Board members. I had those questions, too.

I am a member of the Board and I was aware of the ongoing contract discussions, but I have been represented at its meetings by a designated proxy. Because most of the Board’s work is technical and logistical in nature, I believed the interests of the citizens of Knoxville would be best served by a representative well versed in the needs of emergency responders and the capabilities of the technology. I still believe that.

However, given the nature of the questions surrounding this contract – questions of process and public transparency – it is my responsibility to engage and respond. The review has been complicated and time-consuming, because as a member of the Board I am restricted from private conversation with other Board members, including three City of Knoxville employees who serve on the Board.

There are several issues to deal with here, which I will detail. But here is the bottom line: I believe the E-911 Board should hold a special called meeting to consider the proposed contract that was moved for approval at the meeting on January 21st.

After fully reviewing the RFP and purchasing process that was initiated by the E-911 Board, I see no reason at this time not to support awarding the contract to the bidder selected by the evaluation committee. At the called meeting, I will make or second a motion to that effect. Then I hope to have full public discussion of the proposed contract.

I would like to say a few words about the purchasing process. City Law Director Charles Swanson and I spoke with Knox County Purchasing Director Hugh Holt, and I believe he conducted the purchasing process in good faith, according to established rules and regulations.

Concerns have been raised that end users were not adequately represented on the evaluation committee. I understand these concerns, and I think that the emergency responders did deserve more of a voice than they had. They are the end users, and they need to have a radio system that they trust.

In the future, the E-911 Board should work with the Purchasing Division to ensure proper user representation before embarking on an RFP process.

In the matter before us, it appears that the process has produced a reputable and responsive bidder, and therefore deserves full consideration and public discussion by the Board.

My review also caused me some concerns about the regular operations of E-911. The E-911 Board has no bylaws that we can find. This leads to confusion about procedure, including uncertainty about how to designate a Board Chair and how to properly run public meetings.

I am concerned that the E-911 website is woefully out of date and contains very little information, such as agendas and minutes of Board meetings. I am also concerned that the agendas Board members receive for meetings and workshops contain inadequate information about what will be discussed or considered. I intend to raise all of these issues for discussion at the next E-911 Board meeting.

I believe that the Board – including my own Police and Fire chiefs, and my proxy – acted in good faith in this process, as did the County Purchasing Division.

Going forward, I will be more directly engaged with the operations of the Board, either through attending meetings myself or closely coordinating with a proxy as needed.

The first step we need to take as the E-911 Board is to assure confidence in our operations. Our emergency responders need to have confidence in their equipment, vendors need to have confidence in the bid and purchase process, and the public needs to have confidence that the Board’s decision-making is transparent, fair and accountable.

I look forward to working with the rest of the Board as we move ahead.

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