|Jeanette Eichenwald and Julio Guridy want more|
oversight over city contracts.
I like Robert Trotner's running Facebook account. It appears to be surprisingly objective, while maintaining the spontaneity of a person who was in the mix of things. The Morning Call's Emily Opilio has a report as well, and I'd recommend both.
Trotner's running account is as follows:
Joe Davis says he has a problem in that city council has to approve the contract rather than review it. He doesn't like that. Julio Guridy responds that one public hearing is all that would be needed unless there are outstanding issues. It is agreed that council will use as its criteria the 14 point procedure already in effect that Pawlowski was supposed to be following. Eichenwald says Parts E and F cover the point. Glazier says this procedure only covers purchase orders and Eichenwald says "purchase orders" is another term for contracts. Glazier agrees but says the bill only covers notice of purchase orders. He wants to clarify, but wants to dilute the scope of the bill with the suggested language. He also says he wants to amend the bill to say all purchase orders/contracts should be given automatically to council. Davis says we should be clear that negotiations before a contract should be private.
Glazier and Davis are concerned that if council rejects a contract everything has to be started from scratch and then we would miss a deadline and then penalty provisions would somehow apply. Eichenwald points out that if council denies a contract there would have to a sound reason. Also if the administration knows they will be reviewed they will make a better effort than previously done and that in Bethlehem they say that because of this council has never had to reject a contract. Julio Guridy points out that in Easton, Mayor Salvatore J. Panto Jr. also says they have never had to reject a contract either. Glazier and Davis contend that this bill just adds an extra layer of unnecessary bureaucracy when it's clear the mayor follows all the rules already.
I think Guridy, Eichenwald and possibly O'Connell are for this but the other three are against it so far.
O'Connell speaks approvingly of parts of the measure. He thinks the threshold of $40,000 is too high but he's willing to accept it. Eichenwald says she wanted a lower figure too but wanted to make this acceptable to more of council.
Glazier asks Clerk how many contracts would be over $40,000. Clerk says this would cover about 3/4 of all contracts.
Guridy asks if there a women enterprise or small business enterprise special provisions now affecting contracts. Clerk says there is a point reward system now. Guridy wants the statute to give points for that. Glazier thinks we should stick to the text and not go too far afield (even though he wants to amend just about everything else).
Jeff Glazier just said this pay to play legislation does not negatively implicate the administration because he says the administration never abused the privilege. Jeanette Eichenwald vigorously objected and pointed to today's DOJ indictment. She asked Glazier how he could say that. Glazier answers by saying the law makes it easier to decide time sensitive decisions. Julio Guridy says there is a recognized procedure in the statute to prevent that.
Glazier ... says we need to hear from solicitor ... . He's trying to wait for solicitor's opinion to delay after its already been vetted by Bethlehem solicitor and we're the only third class city that doesn't have that.
Tom Hahn questions whether this hits pay to play. Eichenwald says bill 58 to be discussed next is the pay to play bill. Hahn asks, who didn't do their job that this became a problem. He's talking about the controller. Glazier says we just never did it for some unknown reason and that was before his time He says we have to wait fir investigation of the mayor to be done to know what to do. Eichenwald says the Incinerator consulting fee would never have been paid ($1 million).
Glazier says state law (I assume for state grants) requires that the time line between entering into a contract and starting work has to be within a certain time and requiring council approval might result in monetary fines by the state. I'm not sure but I think that's what this is all about.
Kristian Andersen says based on his work with a large forensic accounting firm shows that you need a third party consultant to tell the city how much you should pay before the contract is let. That saves time and money. Glazier and Eichenwald listened intently .
Rich Fegley is here, I just noticed, and will probably speak. Lou Hershman says the contract should come before the council as a resolution and Glazier says that's the way it works. He says since the administration wants the contract to be approved there may be an important negative element that may be hidden. Glazier says no more discussion. Davis recommends the bill be sent to council with no recommendation. This seems to be what Glazier anticipated before the meeting, this was his plan. He wants a full solicitor review and since there are Jewish holidays there will be a substantial delay in a solicitor review. Motion to advance with no recommendation passed unanimously by Davis, Guridy, and Glazier. The bill will be on next Wednesday's council meeting agenda. Eichenwald says she is upset by the delays and will give them one more chance but her patience is wearing thin. My question is why the bill was assigned to Glazier's finance committee and what this has to do with budget and finance.