That's how councilperson Ann McHale exploded when told that the Stoffa administration was seeking council's input on whether to reject some high bids for county services. Stoffa thought we could do better. McHale was one of those who didn't want to be bothered.
Let me tell you the story.
When Northampton County first bid its information technology contract, three computer companies responded. Technical defects led to two rejections, leaving the county with only one bid. Affiliated Computer Services, the county's current provider, was actually the high bidder, at a little over $10 million. It was also the low bidder because it was the only company that could be legally considered.
Stoffa was unable legally to negotiate directly with ACS for a lower bid. So the county had two choices - award a new IT contract to ACS for $10 million, or reject all bids and start over. Our Administrative Code allows the county to reject bids when "it is in the best interest of the County." All three bidders had agreed to submit new bids, and the general feeling was that new bids would come in a little lower.
Amazingly, when county council was asked to reject, it refused. Personally, I think that small-minded group tried to stick it to the county's taxpayers for two reasons. First, one of the rejected bidders is a major contributor to Republicans, and council saw an opportunity to pull a "pay to play" in reverse. Second, they wanted to embarrass County Exec John Stoffa, who refuses to play their political games. Whatever their reasoning, it was certainly bad government.
This unbridled hubris continued. Council brazenly refused to accept their own lawyer's advice, when he told them they lack supervisory authority over the bidding process. It might "set a precedent." Ann McHale, Charles Dertinger, Lamont McClure, Diane Neiper and Tony Branco just couldn't bring themselves to admit they had made a mistake. The matter was instead referred to Lamont McClure's law and order committee, where he claims to have had a "lot of success in dealing with tough problems." The matter has languished there since July 12 with no discussion.
Stoffa ended up rejecting the bids on his own and sought new proposals. "They [council] can do what they want to do. I answer to the taxpayers, ultimately."
Thanks to Sarah Cassi at The Express Times, we know the new bids are in. The county wants to award its IT contract to ACS, but this time the bid is $8.2 million. That will save the county, and its taxpayers, $1.8 million over the bid that council tried to shove down our throats.
Looks like nice guys do finish first after all.
And for once, so does the taxpayer.