I Team 10 Follow Up: Mayor responds to parking meter investigation
Posted at: 09/19/2012 5:54 PM
| Updated at: 09/19/2012 6:28 PM
By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com
We're getting reaction tonight to an I-Team 10 report into the new parking pay stations you see on downtown streets. Last night we told you the city's Office of Public Integrity had investigated how the contract was awarded to the company that supplied the machines.
The city's internal probe found no criminal activity, just some breaches in its normal procedures. But as we reported, the FBI has also inquired about the bid process, and city officials say they have turned over information to federal investigators.
That's because the company that won the contract, Cale Parking Systems, is under investigation elsewhere.
So today we asked the mayor about it. Tom Richards today defended the deal the city made to bring more than 100 parking pay stations to Rochester.
"The product has been good. We're very satisfied with the project. It's worked well. It's gained acceptance in the community," said the mayor.
In 2010 the city began replacing the single pay parking meters with the solar powered digital machines. The contract went to Florida based Cale.
But I-Team 10 has learned Cale is now the subject of a multi-state corruption investigation. Last year agents from the FBI and IRS raided Cale's Tampa offices and the home of the former parking bureau director in Portland, Oregon. He recently pled guilty to accepting bribes from unnamed executives of two parking meter companies.
Rochester officials acknowledge they have turned over information to the FBI about the city's deal. So we asked the mayor if they are concerned about doing business with Cale.
quot;We've satisfied ourselves that whatever those problems are that that company has somewhere else, they're not existing here. So as of now, no," Richards said.
But as I-Team 10 first reported, the city's Office of Public Integrity has taken a close look at how the deal was consummated and whether Cale may have had an edge in getting the contract, valued at more than a million dollars.
Through a Freedom of Information Law request, we obtained a stack of emails that show Cale was in frequent communication with city parking officials months before the contract even went out to bid.
In one email, Cale was sent a draft copy of the city's bid proposal and was asked to make suggested changes to some of the specifications. No other potential bidder was asked to provide input.
The mayor says they are satisfied the bid process was fair, but admits contact with Cale should have been handled differently.
"In that set of circumstances, we need to put some more discipline in that relationship," Richards said. "We don't think it affected this contract but, you know, we're not pleased with the way in which it was done."
Calls to Cale for comment were not returned.
The Cale contract is just one component of a wider internal investigation into Rochester's Parking Bureau. In July, after an audit of the operations at one city-owned parking garage turned up money collection problems and management issues, bureau director Sue Olley was asked to resign
The mayor says the handling of the Cale contract, though, was not a consideration.
"It was not having anything to do with this contract. In fact she gets credit for this contract as being a plus," said the mayor."Ironically, this particular part of what she did worked well."
Reached yesterday at her home, Olley declined to comment.