Corpus Christi Ethics Commission

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Location: Corpus Christi, Texas, United States

I am here for a reason and not to be a Politician!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Commissioner Peggy Banales voted against the resolution~ looks like Loyd's agenda is billed retroactive to cover past projects and plain to see.......

Officials support new bid process

Commissioners approve dropping bid-reading rule

By Beth Wilson Caller-Times
March 22, 2007

Nueces County commissioners passed a resolution Wednesday to support state legislation removing requirements to read construction bid costs at the beginning of the selection process and allowing alternative construction methods for projects funded by certificates of obligation.

The resolution supports an amended version of legislation filed by Rep. Solomon Ortiz Jr. on March 9 that stemmed from the legal issues surrounding the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds. The original bill would have removed the requirement that governments read aloud fees and pricing when opening construction bids and would have applied to all contracts approved since September 2003.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to support an amended bill that removes the retroactive wording and makes it optional to read the fees on opening, but requires them to be read when the selection process concludes.

County Judge Loyd Neal said he supported the resolution because of the modifications.

"I simply could not support that," he said of the retroactive feature included in the bill's first draft.

Commissioner Peggy Banales voted against the resolution, saying she was in favor of the legislation but wanted to keep the retroactive wording to cover existing projects.

After reports last week revealed not all the commissioners had seen the legislation, Ortiz said he would not move forward on the legislation until he had 100 percent support from the court. Ortiz has said he assumed the bill had the entire court's support when his uncle, Commissioner Oscar Ortiz, hand-delivered it to him in Austin.

In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Ortiz said he now will ask for a hearing on the bill as soon as it is referred to a committee.

"When and whether the bill is set for a hearing is left to the discretion of the committee chairman," the statement said. "When and if it is set for a hearing, I will submit a substitute bill with the wording the county supported in its resolution."

Ortiz said he considers support of the legislation to be unanimous because Banales indicated she approved of its intent.

Both versions of the legislation were written by the Nueces County Attorney's Office. The legislation was drafted to clarify when prices must be read and to clear up conflicting statutes about whether governments may use the construction manager-at-risk method for projects, said County Attorney Laura Garza Jimenez.

Garza Jimenez said Oscar Ortiz requested her office draft a bill that would clarify some of the issues raised in a lawsuit filed last month by philanthropist and businessman William "Dusty" Durrill regarding the county fairgrounds project. The retroactive wording was added to protect ongoing construction manager-at-risk projects across the state, including the county's fairgrounds project, she said.

The manager-at-risk method selects a contractor before detailing plans. Competitive bidding requires details be presented before a contractor is selected so all contractors have equal opportunity to evaluate projects before submitting a bid.

Durrill's lawsuit claimed the county violated state law requiring competitive bidding when it used the construction manager-at-risk method for the fairgrounds. A settlement agreement was signed by both parties Wednesday.

"The intent was not to do away with the Durrill lawsuit," Garza Jimenez said.

The county voided two fairgrounds contracts in January after Fulton Coastcon Construction filed suit. In reviewing the contracts for that suit, the county determined it failed to read the bid pricing aloud when opening the bids, and voted to re-do the bids and contracts.

Former County Commissioner Joe McComb, who lost the House race to Rep. Ortiz, attended Wednesday's meeting and told commissioners he supported the legislation and understands the need for clarification based on his time on the court.

"Nueces County should take the lead to clarify the issue," McComb said.

Contact Beth Wilson at 886-3748 or HYPERLINK


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