Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hinds County did not advertise for bids for Airwave contracts. Legal?

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors rejected a motion by Supervisor Phil Fisher to advertise for bids and proposals for the contracts currently held by Airwave LLC. The two contracts up automatically renew next month unless either party gives thirty days notice it is terminating the contract. However, a search of the minutes and review of Section 19-3-69 of the Mississippi Code shows the previous awarding of these contracts by Hinds County without advertising for bids may have violated the law regarding professional services contracts. Hinds County has paid Airwave $2.2 million since 2008.

Hinds County pays Airwave $122,000 per year to maintain professional services for the six tower sites of the emergency communications system under one agreement. The other agreement pays Airwave $4.6 million over six years to perform maintenance on the 800 Mhz county radio system. The county terminated another contract earlier this year for maintenance of the weather sirens after it received much criticism for awarding the contracts when the weather sirens were already covered by a five year warranty.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, the board cited the "professional services" statute in refusing to bid out the contracts. A county can award contracts for professional services without accepting bids from competitors. Section 19-3-69 of the Mississippi Code specifically regulates awarding such contracts by counties. The law states:

The board of supervisors shall spread upon its minutes its finding that the professional services are necessary and in the best interest of the county. The contract for professional services shall be approved by the attorney for the board of supervisors and made a part of the minutes.

A professional within the meaning of this section shall be limited to:
(a) Attorneys at law, admitted to practice law in this state by the State Board of Bar Admissions;
(b) Accountants, certified by the State Board of Public Accountancy;
(c) Architects, licensed by the State Board of Architecture;
(d) Engineers and Land Surveyors, registered by the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors;
(e) Physicians, licensed by the State Board of Medical Licensure;
(f) Appraisers, licensed by the Mississippi Real Estate Commission or as otherwise provided by law;
(g) Real estate brokers, licensed by the Mississippi Real Estate Commission;
(h) In the sale of personal property pursuant to the provisions of Section 19-7-5, auctioneers who meet standards established by the State Department of Audit
.

Last time I checked, Stacy Stowers was not an attorney, doctor, CPA, realtor, appraiser, auctioneer, surveyor, or architect. If the contracts were awarded without bidding, then the board is probably in violation of the law and yes, the board can be forced to repay the money.

The Mississippi Supreme Court threw out a contract awarded by the Madison County Board of Supervisors in Hood v. Madison County Board of Supervisors (2004). The Supervisors awarded a contract to Herring Appraisal Services without advertising for bids. Mr. Herring was not a licensed appraiser. The Supreme Court ruled the contract (for nearly a million dollars) was not valid. Copy of decision.

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors voted on October 6, 2008 in Executive Session to award the contract for site maintenance to Airwave. The radio maintenance agreement was approved by the Board on November 3, 2008. No bids or requests for proposals were mentioned for either contract.


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had wondered about this issue and the conflict of interest by the board attorney in advising on these specific matters considering her household profited sizably on the backs of Stowers and Hargrove.

Anonymous said...

State law is clear and key word is license. The persons on the BoS should have to repay the money out of their pockets. The bond that is bought out of tax dollars would cover this.

Anonymous said...

Based on this -- and your discovery KF regarding Derrick Johnson and the redistricting sham -- it would not be surprising to discover that there has been a pattern of abuse regarding the awarding of professional services contracts over the past four years in Hinds County.

What is it going to take on this Airwave matter? A citizen filing a lawsuit?

Shadowfax said...

Are there no attorneys viewing this board?

Anonymous said...

nothing will ever happen. this is payback by current majority rule for all the years jackson's current minority ruled.

KaptKangaroo said...

It would appear that laws are being broken. Did no one read about Hood taking over the investigation after Graham did not respond to the Auditor? It would appear that it is getting kicked UP the ladder. Interesting to say the least.

Even if the investigation goes nowhere, there is a alternative to Graham and his name is John Dennery.

Choose wisely!

Anonymous said...

Don't want to get up in this dust up but DC told me at Nat Nite Out in my Lake Trace hood get together that he had to support Robert Graham for party purposes.

Anonymous said...

About time for Stacey to step in and handle this once and for all!

Anonymous said...

Why is Stacey Pickering scared of the Hinds County BoS? This seems like a friggin' layup for him, he'd be a hero for simply doing his job!

Anonymous said...

This situation looks like such an obvious disregard of the laws regarding contract bids, sole source, contract labor, etc. What can we do to push the State Auditor's board to review it? Is Mr. Pickering so deluged in his current work that he can't put someone on it? Are there more costly contracts being reviewed?

Kingfish said...

All right, cleanup in progress. All DC comments are zapped.

Kingfish said...

And I'm zapping because it was a thread hijack. major one.

Anonymous said...

Disgraceful does not even come close to describing the conduct of several of our Hinds BOS.. maybe a better word is criminal. They are greedy, arrogant, and have total disregard for the tax payers that they were elected to serve. I hope that the State Auditor & the Attorney General will prosecute them to the fullest. And, why are we paying the salary of an attorney that doesn't seem to be doing her job either? What about our Hinds Co. District Attorney? Is there anyone out there that will do the right thing for the taxpaying citizens of Hinds? Between paying for this illegal contract and all the lawsuits that have resulted from the current BOS, no wonder we don't have money to pay our county employees that really do work for us!! They should be ashamed!!

Anonymous said...

Why does Robert Graham impersonate a Lieutenant on the Jackson Police Department?

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