Questions arise over sweeping contract | December 26, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - December 26, 2008

Questions arise over sweeping contract

Company claims errors made in review process

by Geoff Gillette

Discussions over a contract for street sweeping services in Danville ran into some snags when one of the bidders for the work claimed their application did not receive an accurate review.

Joe Vella, vice president of Stockton-based Contract Sweeping, questioned the process of reviewing bids for the work in Danville, at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Town Council. He said he did not understand why they were not awarded the work despite having the low bid.

Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said in the case of professional services contracts they do not have to take the low bidder. Instead, depending on the type of contract, the town will use a combination of the price along with a technical evaluation of the bidder.

Vella, along with Contract Sweeping's general manager Bob Wittekind, complained that their bid for the street sweeping was $5,000 a year lower than the company chosen for the work. "Over five years that's $25,000. I'm sure the Town of Danville could use the money," Wittekind said.

Both men pointed to errors in the technical evaluation that caused their scores to be lower. Wittekind asked the council to put off voting on the contract until they could look into the issue. "We'd just like you to wait and evaluate. We don't feel it was an impartial evaluation. We do feel it's imperative for the city to look at this on a closer basis."

Councilman Newell Arnerich called on the duo to provide direct examples of mistakes made in the evaluation.

Vella said some of the errors were: an incorrect number of staff for the company; the fact that their employees did indeed have background checks; participation in a state safety program.

Vella also pointed out that they lost points in the scoring because their company name had changed. "It says we've only been in business five years. We've been in business 50 years," he said. The confusion stemmed from the fact that Contract Services is a new company under the umbrella of San Jose-based Universal Sweeping.

Arnerich continued to question the two men regarding perceived errors before stating that even with additional points from the changed answers they would still be below the score of the vendor chosen.

Mayor Candace Andersen expressed concern over the seeming discrepancies in the evaluation. "I'm concerned about the integrity of the report." Andersen said any time public funds are being used there can be no appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest.

Andersen said she would support holding off on approving the contract when Councilman Mike Shimansky asked to hear from town staff on the issue.

Town Building and Streets Supervisor Jim Parke said that he and two other staff members, each with more than a decade of experience working for the town, evaluated the bids and found in favor of Universal Building Services, the vendor they have been using for the past 10 years.

"We've been working with the contractor now for 10 years and it's one of the better contracts we've had," Parke said. "To the best of our ability I felt we were fair."

Despite her misgivings, Andersen said she supported the staff's recommendation. After further discussion, the issue was moved and unanimously approved by the council.