County and Contractor Attorneys Duel Over Smart Meter RFP Handling

Witnesses are sworn in at this evening’s County Council meeting who will speak to a dispute regarding the smart meter project contract. Print Screen photo

Los Alamos County Assistant Attorney Dan Gonzales, left, protests Attorney Wayne Bingham, representing GEW Mechanical Inc, saying he was attempting to intimidate the Council by threatening to take the dispute to District Court. Print Screen photo

Staff Report

A dispute has erupted over the selection by Los Alamos County of one contractor over another. The County issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) Dec. 2, 2012 for the provision of smart meters, including installation and staff training.

The proposals were due Dec. 17, 2012. Two proposals were received: from Landis + Gyr (“L+G”) and GEW Mechanical (“GEW”). The evaluation committee for the RFP consisted of Robert Westervelt, Deputy Utilities Manager – Finance & Administration, Steve Cummins, Deputy Utilities Manager – Electric Production and Rafael de la Torre, Deputy Utilities Manager – Electric Distribution.

The committee determined that L+G was the highest scoring proposer of the two, and made a recommendation to the Board of Public Utilities and Council for award. Dec. 19, 2012, the Board accepted the recommendation.

The other proposer, GEW, became aware of the recommendation in the Council agenda Dec. 27, 2012. GEW submitted a letter of protest Jan. 3. The Purchasing Agent issued a decision to GEW denying its protest Feb. 22. Council awarded the contract to L+G Feb. 26. GEW perfected its appeal of the Purchasing Agent’s decision to Council, via a letter to the County Administrator March 11.

In accordance with Section 31-231(e) of the Code of Ordinances, Council then acts as the deciding body. When Council acts as a quasi-judicial body, witnesses are sworn, each party has the opportunity to question witnesses, and Councilors may ask questions of witnesses after the parties have concluded their examination.

At the conclusion of the evidence, Council is entitled by Section 10-15-1 to go into closed session in order to deliberate over the evidence it has heard. However, Council’s decision must be entered in open session.

Council may uphold the decision of the Purchasing Agent or Council may uphold the protest of GEW.

Council Chair Geoff Rodgers said the current hearing would go until 11:30 p.m., at which time another meeting would be set to continue the hearing.

Los Alamos Assistant County Attorney Dan Gonzales distributes exhibits to Councilors as did Attorney Wayne Bingham. Print Screen photo

Los Alamos Assistant County Attorney Dan Gonzales. Print Screen photo

Attorney Wayne Bingham, representing GEW Mechanical Inc. Print Screen photo

Los Alamos County Attorney Rebecca Ehler. Print Screen photo

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