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Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013

Appeal of Abele’s Bus Contract Moves Ahead

Judge orders administration to release documents, panel will review contract process

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The stalled contract to operate the Milwaukee County Transit System seems to be closer to a resolution.

This summer, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced that he intended to award the contract to Texas-based, for-profit MV Transportation. Two of the losing bidders were MCTS’s current operator, the nonprofit Milwaukee Transport Services (MTS), and Veolia Transportation Services.

Both MTS and Veolia are trying to appeal the decision before a county panel, which will hold its first informational hearing on Thursday.

But the Abele administration had held back the documents necessary for that appeal. The documents it did eventually release were heavily redacted.

After months of legal wrangling, on Nov. 22 Judge Daniel Noonan ordered the county to release the materials to MTS; Veolia hadn’t taken the matter to court.

On Monday, MTS’s attorney Eric Van Schyndle of Quarles & Brady told the Shepherd that he was confident that the county would send him the documents and not appeal the judge’s decision.

Abele’s spokesman wouldn’t respond to the Shepherd’s request to comment on the county’s intentions.

On Thursday, the newly formed Administrative Determination Review Committee will hold its first hearing, likely to go over the process of MTS’s and Veolia’s appeals. The five supervisors on the committee are its chair, Michael Mayo, as well as Theo Lipscomb, Patricia Jursik, David Bowen and Tony Staskunas.

Abele had shut the supervisors out of the request for proposal (RFP) process, so, like MTS and Veolia, they have not had a chance to review the documents leading to the awarding of the contract to MV.

Lipscomb told the Shepherd that the committee can only review whether the process awarding the contract to MV was proper or improper; it can’t determine whether the contract itself is a fair one.

According to a memo by Corporation Counsel Paul Bargren, if the panel denies the appeals, the administration can forward the contract to the board for approval. If the panel grants the appeal, the administration “would either rescore the bids based on the panel’s findings or conduct an entirely new RFP.”

Lipscomb is the author of a budget amendment that would begin “in-sourcing” the management of MCTS to the county if a vendor contract isn’t awarded by 2014. Supervisors overrode Abele’s veto of that item 17-1.