Several items were pulled from the consent calendar for discussion at last Tuesday night’s city council meeting. One of those concerned the purchase of eight new patrol cars for the police department. This was a budgeted item for the department, hence the reason it was on the consent calendar. In these trying times, though, every penny needs a second look and significant purchases need to be thoroughly examined. So, it wasn’t surprsing to see it pulled, even if two of the three councilmembers asking for discussion only did so for the purpose of justifying the purchase because, after all, they are for our cops.
The discussion began with what was supposed to be a reminder to the Mayor Nielsen about following Robert’s Rules of Order: John began speaking and Deborah interrupted with a point of order. That’s Robert’s Rules of Order. John, looking questioningly toward Jerry and Al, then said, “I was just trying to make it easier…”.
Of course, what Nielsen failed to comprehend then as he did later when he had the nerve to call Gavello a bully, is that Robert’s Rules of Order have been adopted by nearly every organized body in existence and is part of the Tustin City ordinance which dictates how official meetings in this city will be run. The rules do not necessarily reflect convenience but are in place to ensure an orderly meeting takes place. All of that was lost on John who apparently sought solace in the face of Amante. He then turned the floor over to Councilmember Murray, which was fine with Deborah. She just wanted the council to play by the…uh, Rules.
The discussion continued and, when it came Gavello’s turn, she asked several questions concerning mileage and whether the vehicles being replaced could actually be re-powered or have new transmissions put in them to extend the life. She asked about repair and maintenance records. And, although the answer she got from the public works department was less than satisfactory, she was willing to move on. She went on to say how the police department had done a very good job of extending the life of patrol vehicles, going from a three year replacement cycle to four years. But, she wanted to know if the useful life of the vehilce could be extended at a lower cost than replacement. All good questions but, as one of her colleagues (Al Murray is a former police captain) and the good captain from TPD explained, it wasn’t feasible. In the end the new car purchase prevailed on a unanimous vote.
So, what did John have to say that was so urgent that he felt it necessary to go first? He just reiterated the argument for replacing the vehicles, practically repeating the agenda report. Gosh, John, you had to interrupt Gavello to say that? What was the real purpose of trying to squelch Gavello during her inquiry? I have my opinion, you can form your own.
Gavello approached this from the regular person-on-the-street view of vehicles and new vehicle purchases. That’s fine when you are talking about replacing the family’s Vista Cruiser but, when you are talking about patrol cars, it is a whole new ballgame. But, Gavello did not ask the question that should have been asked.
We have a Dodge Vendor right here within city limits. Tuttle-Click Dodge, in fact, did submit a bid on the vehicles. The difference in the bids between McPeek Dodge from Anaheim and Tuttle-Click was less than five thousand dollars. The sticking point, according to TPD, was Tuttle-Click’s ability to obtain the necessary vehicles in a reasonable time. Tuttle-Click did not have any 2012 vehicles in stock and were expecting their 2013 vehicles in November. So, for the sake of two months and a year older model of vehicle, the city decided to take the bid from an outside company?
Oh, wait. In the proposal McPeek gave the city, they said the time from order to delivery would be 60 – 120 days. That would be January 2013.
“Work Where You Must, but Live and Shop in Tustin”
That’s the unofficial slogan that adorns city limit signs coming into Tustin. Apparently, that doesn’t apply to the city itself if that means it would take a little longer to obtain their vehicles. Now, I admit, I did not call Tuttle-Click to find out if they would only guarantee one vehicle to the city as the Captain said or whether they could produce eight 2013 year model Chargers in November. But, then, I don’t think the city actually asked that question either. In fact, it doesn’t seem like the city tried very hard to do business with a local vendor before venturing out of the city to find what they wanted. Had they done so, maybe they would have gotten an agreeable answer.
And, that is the question the good councilwoman should have asked.