Burchett’s constituent meeting for today (3/5) postponed

From a county release:

Due to inclement weather, today’s constituent meeting with Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett will be postponed and rescheduled for another date. The original meeting was to be held today, Thursday, March 5 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Fountain City Library, 5300 Stanton Road. An updated meeting advisory will be sent out once the new date and time has been set. A current listing of upcoming meetings can be found at: http://knoxcounty.org/news/news.php?id=429.

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J.J. Jones blames media for E-911 review

I’d explain the letter, but it’s probably best to just read it yourself.

Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones appears to be upset that the public and the county’s top elected officials are interested in the process used to select a bidder for the county’s E-911 system.

He uses words like collusion, political, etc. Just go ahead and click the link.

By the way, Jones has repeatedly declined to speak with us on his position. Presumably, he’s not happy with the recent actions from Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.

The letter is in .pdf image form, which makes it nearly impossible to copy text. Otherwise, I’d just paste it in here.

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Burchett’s comments on E-911

We got this release yesterday, but I didn’t post immediately because Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has been pretty accessible while the E-911 issue has been percolating. That means that he’s been providing comments along the way.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero tends to take an approach that considers many angles, and is carefully thought out.

There’s an academic paper on the comparisons in political styles that I’ll never write, but maybe someone in a poli sci department will handle someday.

That said, here’s his release from Tuesday:

Mayor Burchett to seek clarification on E-911 board chair, public vote on radio contract

Knoxville, Tenn. — During the next meeting of the Knox County Emergency Communications District board, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett plans to seek clarification on the appointment of a duly-elected chair and see the E-911 radio communications contract discussed publically and put to a vote.

“There is too much uncertainty about the position of chair and the fact that, after 18 months of work on the radio communications RFP process, the awarded contract was never discussed or voted on in a public meeting,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “I will attend the next E-911 board meeting to see that a new chair is properly elected and to move that the awarded contract for E-911 radio services be approved so there can be open discussion and an up-or-down vote. It is my hope that, this time, a member of the E-911 board will second the motion in order to allow for discussion.”

After a thorough RFP process overseen by the Knox County Purchasing Division, Harris Communications prevailed as the highest scoring bidder seeing to provide emergency radio communications services to the emergency responders operating within Knox County. Motorola Solutions – the current radio provider – and Tait Communications also responded to the RFP.

Approximately 20 years ago, the Knox County Emergency Communications District entered into an agreement with Knox County Government to provide financial-related services, which include the procurement process.

“I want to commend Knox County Purchasing director Hugh Holt and his staff for the professional work they did in overseeing this process,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “The Knox County Purchasing Division is one of the most highly-respected procurement offices in the state, and they serve the Knox County taxpayers well.”

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Rogero opens up on E-911 meeting, calls for vote

We’ll have a more fleshed-out version online and in print, but here’s Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero’s release, sent just a while ago:

 MAYOR ROGERO CALLS FOR MEETING OF E-911 BOARD TO VOTE ON CONTRACT

Mayor Madeline Rogero today called for a special meeting of the Knox County E-911 Board to vote on a proposed radio system contract that was moved for approval but did not receive a second at the Board’s meeting on Jan. 21. She has spent the past week reviewing the process that led to the proposed contract. The Mayor’s full statement is below.

“Since the meeting on January 21st, there have been a lot of questions from the public and the media about how and why the motion to approve this contract died without any discussion from Board members. I had those questions, too.

I am a member of the Board and I was aware of the ongoing contract discussions, but I have been represented at its meetings by a designated proxy. Because most of the Board’s work is technical and logistical in nature, I believed the interests of the citizens of Knoxville would be best served by a representative well versed in the needs of emergency responders and the capabilities of the technology. I still believe that.

However, given the nature of the questions surrounding this contract – questions of process and public transparency – it is my responsibility to engage and respond. The review has been complicated and time-consuming, because as a member of the Board I am restricted from private conversation with other Board members, including three City of Knoxville employees who serve on the Board.

There are several issues to deal with here, which I will detail. But here is the bottom line: I believe the E-911 Board should hold a special called meeting to consider the proposed contract that was moved for approval at the meeting on January 21st.

After fully reviewing the RFP and purchasing process that was initiated by the E-911 Board, I see no reason at this time not to support awarding the contract to the bidder selected by the evaluation committee. At the called meeting, I will make or second a motion to that effect. Then I hope to have full public discussion of the proposed contract.

I would like to say a few words about the purchasing process. City Law Director Charles Swanson and I spoke with Knox County Purchasing Director Hugh Holt, and I believe he conducted the purchasing process in good faith, according to established rules and regulations.

Concerns have been raised that end users were not adequately represented on the evaluation committee. I understand these concerns, and I think that the emergency responders did deserve more of a voice than they had. They are the end users, and they need to have a radio system that they trust.

In the future, the E-911 Board should work with the Purchasing Division to ensure proper user representation before embarking on an RFP process.

In the matter before us, it appears that the process has produced a reputable and responsive bidder, and therefore deserves full consideration and public discussion by the Board.

My review also caused me some concerns about the regular operations of E-911. The E-911 Board has no bylaws that we can find. This leads to confusion about procedure, including uncertainty about how to designate a Board Chair and how to properly run public meetings.

I am concerned that the E-911 website is woefully out of date and contains very little information, such as agendas and minutes of Board meetings. I am also concerned that the agendas Board members receive for meetings and workshops contain inadequate information about what will be discussed or considered. I intend to raise all of these issues for discussion at the next E-911 Board meeting.

I believe that the Board – including my own Police and Fire chiefs, and my proxy – acted in good faith in this process, as did the County Purchasing Division.

Going forward, I will be more directly engaged with the operations of the Board, either through attending meetings myself or closely coordinating with a proxy as needed.

The first step we need to take as the E-911 Board is to assure confidence in our operations. Our emergency responders need to have confidence in their equipment, vendors need to have confidence in the bid and purchase process, and the public needs to have confidence that the Board’s decision-making is transparent, fair and accountable.

I look forward to working with the rest of the Board as we move ahead.”

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Knox County gets rebate for E-card use

From a release:

This morning, SunTrust Bank presented Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett with a $538,329 E-commerce card rebate check. For the first time, the annual rebate topped a half-million dollars.

 

Knox County earned the half-million-dollar rebate from the use of its E-commerce cards during the 2014 calendar year. This amount surpassed 2013’s rebate by more than $91,000, a 21 percent increase.

 

“The E-commerce card rebate program continues to show that there is a real-dollar value to efficiency in government,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “I appreciate the Knox County Purchasing Department’s on-going efforts to identify tax-saving efficiencies through the E-commerce Card program. I’d like to specifically recognize Purchasing Program Manager Janice Orr and E-Card Coordinator Lori Holmann for their help in ensuring these substantial savings for Knox County’s taxpayers.”

 

Over the past four years, Knox County has received more than $1.5 million in rebates. The Knox County Purchasing Department identifies opportunities to utilize the cards for various county transactions with third party vendors, and has saved Knox County millions through cost-avoidance by consolidating the E-commerce card program.

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Rogero’s comments on E-911

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero’s statement about the E-911 board, from a release:

Mayor Madeline Rogero has directed her staff to fully review the sequence of events leading up to last week’s meeting of the E-911 Board of Directors. Mayor Rogero is a member of the Board, but like prior mayors, is represented by a proxy. When the Board met on Jan. 21, Mayor Rogero was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

 

“I understand the questions raised about the E-911 Board meeting last week,” Mayor Rogero said. “This has been a long and complicated process, and we are gathering relevant information so that I can understand what happened and what the next steps are. I am committed to full transparency and ensuring that we have public confidence in the actions of the Board.”

 

In gathering this information, Mayor Rogero is respecting all Sunshine Law restrictions on her communications with other members of the Board, including Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch and Fire Chief Stan Sharp.

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Boardwalk on Neyland greenway replaced

Fresh wood is nice. I ran on this the other day and it was good to not have to worry about turning an ankle. From a release:

Neyland Greenway runners and bicyclists can focus on their heart rate and speed – and not worry about navigating an irregular surface – now that City of Knoxville crews have replaced the boardwalk that skirts the Kuwahee Wastewater Treatment Plant along the Tennessee River.

The wooden decking, more than 20 years old, was warping and due for an upgrade. So the City’s Public Service Department replaced all the boards, added joists and made structural upgrades – a renovation that, if contracted out to a private company, might have cost as much as $40,000.

The work was done entirely by City workers over a month and a half, costing only about $10,000 in materials.

Similarly, Public Service Department crews saved taxpayer dollars by rerouting a flood-prone section of the Third Creek Greenway late last year. Doing that project in-house saved about $145,000, compared with the estimate from a private contractor, according to Peter Gerlach, the City’s Construction Manager.

Public Service Department Foremen Steve Ogle and Brad Mills oversaw the Neyland Greenway Boardwalk work, which was started in December, because that’s the time when the popular greenway is least used.

“It was a perfect opportunity, because usage is lowest in December and early January,” Gerlach said. “We’re finishing up the last details now. This boardwalk should be good for the next 25 or 30 years.”

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