Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bad Bid & Haggerty Haggles

If you missed the Commissioners Court meeting on Monday there was a dust-up which essentially was the Public Works Director's screw-up that led to a vote that Commissioner Haggerty never should have taken.

Before we go further you should understand that most people don't fully grasp that words like "corruption" and "nepotism" have to meet specific circumstances. But all too often the public throws them around incorrectly. That'll make more sense in a minute, walk with me for a second.

Here's the short of it, staff recommend approval of a bid that never should've been recommended because the Public Works Director Pat Adauto missed a major flaw in the process - the cost of transporting materials.

Public Works has some of the best employees I've never seen and worked with. Like any organization you have some that aren't stellar, but the vast majority are good employees. Somewhere along the line someone completely overlooked the cost of transporting materials into a bid and staff made a recommendation on incomplete information.

What followed was a big cluster eff of a presentation with county staff and department heads not know answers and contradicting one another. 

It was pretty embarrassing.

That mistake falls on the department head, Pat Adauto, who is supposed to review that stuff before it goes to commissioner's court.

Jobe was essentially pissed because they didn't get the bid and went to the meeting and raised hell about it. 

Jobe was right.

And since he was right, the court voted to go against the recommendation of staff, which is pretty rare in a bid because of all the structural solutions they have built into the process to avoid previous funny business.

The problem is that Jobe has contributed to every member of the court. Obviously they aren't required by law to recuse themselves just because of the contributions alone.

But members of the court can CHOOSE to recuse themselves if they feel there is an APPEARANCE of a conflict.

County Commissioner Andrew Haggerty not only has received contributions from Jobe, but his uncle is Jobe's lobbyist.

He should have abstained from voting. It's the small avoidable things like voting on an item like this that slowly chips away at public confidence. Especially because he didn't have to vote on it.

It's a little quirk of government most people don't catch, but the city and county vote differently on items. The city uses an electronic method and they all vote at once. The county does so by roll call vote and for whatever reason the order isn't 1,2,3,4 and then the County Judge. It's predicts 3,1,2,4 and then the Judge. Either way, Haggerty is always the last Commissioner to vote and already knows the outcome of a vote. 

The vote to go against staff recommendation was 4-1, with Judge Escobar sticking by staff's recommendation. No clue why, but she did. 

Anywho, the point is to rebid the contract, Haggerty didn't have to vote. He knew Jobe was a contributor, he knew his uncle was Jobe's lobbyist and he knew they had the votes to rebid. 

But he CHOSE to vote anyway.

Not illegal, but it does cause a reasonable person to question the need to vote on the issue. 

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