Sun tells only part of the story on city speed cameras [Letter]

November 19, 2013

As a faithful subscriber to The Sun, I am totally perplexed and disappointed that The Sun did not tell the full story about Baltimore's speed camera contract ("City rethinks camera contract," Nov. 17).

Your news story, for no good journalistic reason, neglected to mention several very material and controlling facts related to the city's most serious contract performance dispute with its incumbent speed and red light camera contractor, Brekford Corp., of Anne Arundel County. The Sun's story neglected to disclose the important fact that I personally filed a bid protest against the Board of Estimates' initial consideration and contract award to Brekford on Nov. 7, 2012, and again on April 10, 2013, when the Board of Estimates totally unlawfully voted to play "favoritism" with Brekford and amended its speed and red light cameras contract to provide an astonishing additional $2.2 million to Brekford as payment for 72 speed camera units, which the facts clearly show were already included and provided for in Brekford's initial bid proposal to the city, favorably voted on and approved by the Board of Estimates, on Nov. 7, 2012.

The Board of Estimates' entire contract dealings with Brekford related to this city speed and red light camera contract is typical and well-illustrates the board's weekly refusal to fully respect and adhere to the city's requirement to award contracts to "the lowest responsive and responsible bidder."

As The Sun's news story correctly asserts, when the city first put out its speed and red light cameras contract bid in 2012, Brekford offered the City about $2 million more in fine revenue over the five-year life of the contract — $90.7 million versus the $88.8 million projected by the other bidder, Xerox. This total amount of revenue pledged to the city was allegedly the biggest factor in the city's final decision to award the referenced contract to Brekford over Xerox.

Plain and simple, what The Sun's news story, importantly and miraculously failed to fully inform its readers about was that the Board of Estimates' subsequent $2.2 million alteration and amendment to its original speed and red light cameras contract with Brekford was patently not in any way intended or contemplated in the city's original bid proposal request and when lawfully factored into Brekford's $90.7 million in fine revenue offered the City, ultimately clearly made Xerox's original $88.8 million fine revenue offer to the city a better deal. The amendment to Brekford's contract was totally wrong and resulted in a completely new city contract, which fundamental competitive bidding principles required the city to completely rebid.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what the city's Purchasing Bureau and Board of Estimates do weekly, and The Sun regularly witnesses these abuses but outright neglects to inform its readers of them. Indeed, The Sun's readers are patiently awaiting The Sun to cover and report more accurately and vigilantly on this "whole bunch of foolishness," occurring at Baltimore's City Hall. The Sun's readers deserve more vigilant, forceful, accurate and enlightened City Hall coverage.

Arnold M. Jolivet, Baltimore

The writer is managing director of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association.

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