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 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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About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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