Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Service pins purchase could have been $5K less

Judge preferred to not have public see price

Reporting by R.S. Gates
Story by The Legendary Jim Parks

Waco – In documents obtained through a public information act request, The Legendary learned that McLennan County Judge Jim Lewis and his staff purposely dodged getting multiple bids for a $9,300 purchase of employment pins.

In two e-mails from Business Manager Cody Miles to Purchasing Director Ken Bass, Ms. Miles expressed the desire that the public not see the price to be charged by Robert Cox Jewelers for the items.

“We are concerned that having the cost out there may spur a request to have you go out for quotes..."

In the first e-mail dated April 28, the Judge told Mr. Bass, “We are concerned that having the cost out there may spur a request to have you go out for quotes...We have been with Cox Jewelers since 1974.”

In a second memo, the business manager told the purchasing office in writing, “...I think we would prefer to not put the $ amount out there for the public to see – but what are your views?”

These two statements are contrary to what Judge Lewis told County Commissioner Joe Mashek in a somewhat heated exchange regarding the matter of a purchase order during a Court session in July.

The Court had resolved earlier in the spring to review and reaffirm the purchasing procedure outlined on a county website and in the McLennan County Handbook. There has been much publicity of late regarding purchases of vehicles and other items as budget finalizations near.

At the time, the Judge said he was “99 percent sure” that he had someone in his office obtain information about competitive bids.

Furthermore, information furnished in the response to the request shows that by purchasing 10 karat gold-filled pins, the County could have save $5.5 thousand instead of spending the $9.3 thousand required to obtain the solid gold pins and diamonds which were bought without a purchase order number.

The purchase procedure followed is contrary to a purchasing policy adopted earlier this year by the Commissioners' Court, The Legendary learned in previous public information act requests.

Dig Deodato doing the samba beat to "Baubles, Bangles...etc." Cooks,huh? Cooks, and how.

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