The recently concluded fiasco at city council that has been dubbed “musical chairs” resulted in much online commentary about the cost to move equipment from one spot on the dais to another. The local news media reported a cost, which was attributed to Ann Morgan Lilly, in the neighborhood of $7,000. The purported cost and commentary made me wonder what it actually entailed. Therefore, I submitted an open records request for more information.
The open records request that I submitted on October 20, 2014 asked for copies of proposals “in any form whether email correspondence, written bids and or proposals and/or informal requests for proposals” to add equipment at the end of the dais, where Ann Morgan Lilly had been sitting while Cortney Niland occupied her seat.
On Monday, I received the city’s response.
The city provided fours documents that were comprised of three originals with subsequent copies being sent back and forth. From the documents, I was able to deduce the following.
It appears that a request to move the equipment on the dais was requested in August. The documents that were provided to me included an email from Jim Carlisle (side note: not sure, if he is related to Cortney Niland) of Checkpoint Services on August 19, 2014. Carlisle was submitting his company’s bid for the equipment installation. Because of the date of the email, it appears that a request for an estimate was generated sometime in August.
However, the bid was not forwarded to Irma Lopez at the city by Eli Nevarez, whom I believe works at the city’s information technology department, until October 16, 2014. It appears that almost a month transpired between the initiation of discussions to relocate equipment on the dais and when it was escalated within the city. I can only speculate at this point, as to why the issue was escalated, however, the timeline seems to fit the public scrutiny of the musical chairs fiasco and the subsequent acceptance by Cortney Niland that she would resume her seat at the dais.
Additionally, the two estimates, one to purchase a new computer and another to program, activate microphones, and touch panels are dated August 15 and August 19. The total for setting up a station for Ann Morgan Lilly was $6,942.97, according to the estimates provided to me.
The first estimate was from HPS Audio and Video, LLC. It quoted an “Emergency Service Call” to “Program / Activate 2 touchpanel [sic], Rearrange Look & feel Mayor’s/Tech Panels”. The estimate included “For new configuration Activate 2 microphones & Readjust Room Acoustics”. The estimate also mentions replacing two monitor lifters to match the current ones in use at the dais. The price quoted for this service was $3,300. HPS’ estimate also included two devices labelled “Nexus 21 Item Ver- Cb 1.3” for a total price of $2,175.00. The Nexus device is the pop-up lifters that conceal the monitors when not in use at the dais.
This estimate includes a note stating that “in order to do this service on 08/22/2014” the city may be required to pay an additional shipping fee. Apparently, the original request was for installing the equipment by August 22, 2014.
The second estimate was from Checkpoint Services. It was dated August 19, 2014. This estimate quoted a computer for $1,203.16 plus a monitor for $179.39 and wireless keyboard and mouse for an additional $85.42. The total was for $1,467.97.
As you can tell by the estimates, it takes a little more to setup an additional station on the dais then simply moving equipment from one station to another. As to the question about just moving Niland’s existing computer and equipment to the other side of the dais the answer seems to rest on the accessibility of the wiring for the equipment and the lifters used to hide the monitors when not in use.
Other than the issue of the cost that the taxpayer would have had to pay, the other thing that should concern everyone is that although the amount may seem insignificant when compared to the overall city budget; it appears that the city was ready to spend almost $7,000 based on just one bid alone.
Apparently, the city didn’t want to be bothered with asking other vendors for estimates in order to get the best value for the city, after all its not their wallet they were using, it was yours.