A few weeks ago nine wacky citizens, including professional engineers and scientists, addressed the council asking them to justify Austin Foust's no-bid contract or open the process up to other competitors. I addressed the council too. We all thought competition was good and assumed the council would agree. Here is the Coast News letter to the editor I wrote after that meeting:
The Aug. 28 article about the city of Encinitas’ contract for a citywide traffic study (“Mixed review for general plan consultants”) described Councilman Jerome Stocks’ confusing actions. It correctly reported that Councilmember Stocks said that he thought allowing competitors to bid on a $110,000 contract would be “appropriate.” The comment was even more appropriate when considering the last report issued by Austin-Foust contained poor data and analysis. Their report was never deemed acceptable by the council or traffic commission. So you might find it bizarre that Councilmembers Stocks and Dan Dalager and Mayor Maggie Houlihan ended up voting to rehire Austin Foust, without allowing any other firms to compete for the contract. Only Councilmember Teresa Barth said no to hiring a consultant who had stood behind shoddy work.
Why rehire Austin Foust? Consider the bombshell Mayor Houlihan dropped at the council meeting. Houlihan said Austin Foust’s last $100,000 report was years late because the city had manipulated the public review process. She said the delay was used to keep the traffic analysis from impacting the 2006 election (Dalager’s re-election). None of the other council members at the meeting denied or commented on Houlihan’s allegation. Barth wasn’t on the council at the time, but Stocks and Dalager were. Why the silence?
At the time of Dalager’s re-election, he was made aware that some citizens wanted to know why the traffic study was being delayed. The citizens’ concerns were shaken off. The public had been onto something, because the traffic consultants (Austin Foust) now blame part of the project’s delay on, “getting past council elections.”
Was Austin Foust rehired because they could be manipulated? Was the manipulation of the process condoned by Dalager? Well, I sent Dalager an e-mail a week ago asking him to comment on Houlihan’s public statements. He has not yet responded.
As of today we are going on three weeks without a response Dalager.
Watch the Meeting Video (August 19th)