When you least expect it, Doug Wilder slips back into my blog. And this one has turned into a doozy of a story. I had a headache most of the day trying to track down all the sides to this one. Here’s the basics: In 2007, (Under the Wilder administration) Richmond decided to buy 40 new police cruisers. The city bought them from Sheehy Ford and spent just under a million dollars. Sounds easy enough, right? Leave it to City Auditor Umesh Dalal to find the rub.
Turns out the city broke its own rules. (Procurement rules) Dalal says the city should have used a sealed bid process and given every Ford dealership in the area a chance to get that contract. We don’t know why this one dealership was choosen. (I’m digging) A city official has now resigned.
Director of Procurement Eric Mens handed in his resignation on June 30th for August 30th. And Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring is investigating. We tried to reach Mr. Mens but he’s out of the office until Monday. This story is not over yet. If this investigation makes it to a grand jury, it will be interesting to see who names who and who says what.
Here is Mayor Dwight Jones full statement on the matter:
“These are very serious allegations. I’ve had discussions with my leadership team about this matter. As a result, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Byron Marshall, has initiated an administrative review that will be conducted by the Deputy CAO for Operations, Chris Beschler and will be completed within a week to ten days. While this review is underway, Garland Williams will serve as acting director of Procurement Services. Williams is presently acting as assistant director of the City’s Department of Budget and Strategic Planning and has previously served as acting director of the City’s Department of Economic Development.
“This administration has respect for the rules of law and will not condone any misuse of public office. In follow up to the City Auditor’s submission of his report to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, I contacted the Commonwealth’s Attorney to indicate the City’s desire to cooperate and offer any assistance that may be necessary if the matter should require action on their part. We want to ensure a procurement process that is fair, competitive, transparent, cost-efficient, impartial and above all, ethical.”