No-bid deal for Delco 911 Cen­ter sparks con­fronta­tion

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Tustin ktustin@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Kev­inTustin on Twit­ter

EAST LANS­DOWNE » Par­ti­san di­vides on Delaware County Coun­cil hit the road as mem­bers met in East Lans­downe Bor­ough Hall Wed­nes­day night. Fac­tions sparred over a no-bid con­tract for 911 telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vice.

By a 3-2 vote on party lines, Ed­dy­s­tone-based Ra­dio Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Ser­vices Inc. was awarded a $2.1 million con­tract to pur­chase, in­stall and main­tain the county’s 911 call cen­ter hard­ware and soft­ware for six years. The equip­ment that will be in­stalled will make the county com­pat­i­ble with state and na­tional Next Gen­er­a­tion 911 re­quire­ments by mov­ing over to a Mo­torola-based sys­tem. The update will al­low text mes­sag­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity with the 911 cen­ter.

Demo­cratic coun­cil­men Kevin Mad­den and Brian Zidek voted against the deal and ex­pressed con­cern with not so­lic­it­ing bids for the con­tract through the Re­quest for Pro­posal process. They also ques­tioned the fi­nan­cial ties of RCS owner Dale Petro­vitch to the Repub­li­can Party.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, Petro­vitch do­nated $17,500 in 2015 and 2016 to the cam­paigns of Repub­li­can law­mak­ers in­clud­ing U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6 of West Goshen, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., for­mer U.S. Rep. Pat Mee­han, R-7 of Chadds Ford, and the Trump Vic­tory PAC. An­other $13,900 was do­nated to Costello, Toomey and the Repub­li­can Fed­eral Com­mit­tee of Penn­syl­va­nia since Jan­uary 2017.

Zidek sug­gested that the deal was not put out to bid be­cause of Petro­vitch’s con­tri­bu­tions.

“If we don’t bid it out, and we have a no-bid con­tract to a sig­nif­i­cant donor to a po­lit­i­cal party, that’s a bad look for Delaware County,” said Zidek.

Repub­li­can coun­cil Chair­man John McBlain dis­agreed.

“For­tu­nately, we had a very vig­or­ous dis­cus­sion (at Tues­day’s agenda meet­ing),” McBlain said in ad­dress­ing Zidek’s com­ment on the ser­vices RCS were even­tu­ally ap­proved to pro­vide. “It’s un­for­tu­nate that all of that was just a pre­text to a po­lit­i­cal at­tack.”

“Mr. Chair­man, I take is­sue with that,” added Mad­den, the se­cond Demo­crat elected to coun­cil last Novem­ber. “I don’t think it was a po­lit­i­cal at­tack. It was some­thing that … I saw to be in­con­sis­tent with the process that we typ­i­cally take. We’re not ac­cus­ing any­thing, and I don’t want to speak to Mr. Zidek, but, per­son­ally, I think the ad­di­tion of that fact point makes it even more im­por­tant that this be bid out.”

Mad­den and Zidek said they would have no prob­lem award­ing the con­tract to RCS if they were viewed to be the best ven­dor through an RFP process. They also pro­posed vot­ing to ta­ble ac­tion on the con­tract, which failed.

Eleanor Smith, the county di­rec­tor of 911 telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, said po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions were not her con­cern, only the lives of county res­i­dents. She said the county’s VESTA Re­fresh sys­tem in place at 911 is near­ing the end of its life. Of RCS, she said the county has been work­ing with them at the 911 cen­ter for more than 10 years with an on-site ser­vice provider to help with sys­tem is­sues and she would trust them with her fam­ily in the case of an emer­gency.

“We’re in a sit­u­a­tion where ev­ery mo­ment counts,” said Smith. “We don’t have time to be any com­pany’s train­ing po­si­tion or prov­ing ground. Any­one can come in and say they can do the job, but we don’t have any proof that they can. We have proof for 10 years or bet­ter that Ra­dio Com­mu­ni­ca­tions has ser­viced us im­pec­ca­bly and they have my to­tal sup­port.”

McBlain said the RCS was help­ful in work­ing with a pre­vi­ous sys­tem when there was a mal­func­tion in June 2016 that in­ter­rupted a 911 ser­vice call when Fol­croft Po­lice Of­fi­cer Christo­pher Dor­man was shot seven times.

“I’ve al­ways been very im­pressed with their ser­vice and their abil­ity out there,” said McBlain. “What I’ve heard from our de­part­ment heads and staff who we rely on to be our eyes and ears in these things is that RCS has done tremen­dous work and are very re­spon­sive to the needs there.”

McBlain said there was a re­ported $470,000 in sav­ings RCS was propos­ing to the county in this con­tract.

Coun­cil was unan­i­mous on other vot­ing mat­ters at Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing, in­clud­ing the ad­ver­tise­ment of an RFP for trail de­vel­op­ment draw­ings for phase two of the Ch­ester Creek Trial project. Pre­lim­i­nary de­signs and en­gi­neer­ing schemat­ics are be­ing re­quested to ex­tend the walk­ing trail ap­prox­i­mately 1.5 miles from Creek Road in Mid­dle­town Town­ship to Bridge­wa­ter Road in As­ton.

County Plan­ning De­vel­op­ment Di­rec­tor Linda Hill said more rec­om­men­da­tions on the project will be brought to coun­cil in Septem­ber for its con­sid­er­a­tion.

The 1.5-mile ex­ten­sion will add to 140 miles of pub­lic and pri­vate walk­ing trails in the county.

On a sim­i­lar note, coun­cil adopted a res­o­lu­tion to sup­port the Cir­cuit Trails ini­tia­tive, which will com­plete 500 miles of recre­ational trails in the greater Philadel­phia re­gion by 2025.

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

The ex­te­rior of the Delaware County 911 Call Cen­ter in Mid­dle­town.

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