As expected, the two major newspapers in Philadelphia played up the delaying of the controversial Silverliner V contract, which was tabled at yesterday's Rubber-stamp Session of the SEPTA Board. What apparently wasn't expected was that according to a Google search, at least 40 different news outlets across the country - including Forbes magazine - have picked up on the story.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, BLE leader Tom Dorricott called SEPTA management out regarding the questionable tactics involved in the process.
Yesterday, (Dorricott) said, "Our concerns are the fact that the process and philosophies of this project have been flawed."
Dorricott, who represents the men and women who drive Regional Rail trains, questioned SEPTA's decision to save $14 million with United Transit, which received the agency's lowest technical ranking: 125 out of 175. Runner-up Kawasaki had a rating of 162, and bid $250 million for the work.
SEPTA's decision to recommend United Transit "made it sound like, 'We're willing to undergo a certain amount of risk just to save $14 million,' " Dorricott said. "Is that amount of savings appropriate?
"I don't believe... that any board would approve of a project that he or she did not think would work," he said. Inquirer article
(Dorricott) charged that SEPTA riders, employees and even managers involved in the initial design of the railcars were "kept in the dark" about changes made to bid specifications and delays in deciding to award a contract. Daily News article
That led to a heated response from Fearless Leader:
"This was a long and hard procurement process. I will tell anybody it was done well," Moore said... Inquirer
Fearless Leader's also added comments which, in effect, said that staff was right to leave the BLE and other operating employees out of the loop during the process.
"The decision had to be made by the people responsible to leave certain people out of the loop," she told Dorricott.
Translation: Well, it shouldn't be such a big deal to the BLE. After all, they're only going to be the people who are operating these new rail cars, so it's not as though they need to be "in the loop" regarding how these cars are built.
It appears that Dorricott's comments had a profound impact on Fearless Leader...
Dorricott's comments clearly incensed (Moore), who snapped at reporters who tried to interview the head of the publicly funded transit agency and others in her employ.
"No!" she snarled when a reporter approached. "Leave me alone!" Daily News
Great leadership, oh Fearless Leader. Simply great. Instead of dealing with the issue straight on, you have to run and hide like a coward. Isn't it wonderful to know that the people running the system are willing to address these issues head-on, without having to hide behind the shield that is the Ministry of Mis-Information?
But, Fearless Leader wasn't the only one running and hiding from the press...
Nervous SEPTA lawyers ushered board members away from reporters. Other board members cut interviews short or beat a path to the door.
"Nothing we did was wrong," said SEPTA Chairman Pat Deon before jumping on an escalator. Daily News
Right. If you have nothing to hide, Don Pasquale, then why aren't you being more open with the public?
SEPTA has so far refused to release lobbyist disclosure forms that each company must file under law with their proposals.
"The whole package is still part of an active procurement and will remain so until the board acts on it," said SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney, explaining the reason for the agency's position. Daily News
That is, until Common Pleas Court Judge Matthew Carrafiello issues an order for it as part of the March 15 hearing on the preliminary injunction.
On that front, the Minister of Mis-Information announced that SEPTA was about to enter the gray legal area known as "forum shopping."
Meanwhile, SEPTA began the process of trying to move the case to a court that specializes in commercial litigation.
It wants Commerce Court to hear the case rather than Court of Common Pleas Judge Matthew Carrafiello, who issued the injunction.
"Carrafiello is a regular, day to day, Common Pleas Court judge," SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said. "The effort is to have a very complicated, business contractual matter seen by a judge who does these things."
No hearing was scheduled on the motion to move the case.
SEPTA, already allied with Dilworth Paxon, hired another law firm, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, yesterday.
William R. Sasso, the chairman of the firm, just so happens to be chairman of the board of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, which employs a certain former Governor by the name of Mark Schweiker, who just happens to be from - drumroll, please - Lower Bucks County.
Great. Spend more money on lawers for a process that is starting to stink even worse. Maybe that's where all that extra money that was taken from the 27 has disappeared to...