Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio says he has some ideas about how to better regulate the city's bidding process but that pushing those ideas forward has caused him to clash again with Mayor Phil Gordon.
Most recently, Gordon held nothing back when he told a Capitol Times reporter on Wednesday: "DiCiccio is an (expletive)."
According to the Capitol Times, the mayor's comment came during a discussion of legislative attempts to impose the state's will on cities like with Senate Bill 1322, which would require Phoenix and Tucson to seek private bids for contracts of $250,000 or more. DiCiccio believes the bill would create more competitiveness in the way the city does business and create more opportunities for small businesses. Gordon believes the city is doing a good job on its own and doesn't need the state regulation.
Brewer vetoed the bill in April.
Recently, the city admitted to having no regulation to the bidding process between departments. This problem was highlighted during a July 6 City Council meeting when a Phoenix business owner claimed the bidding process was not fair and her business could have won the bid if it had been more open. A California company that has worked with the city in the past was awarded that contract.
"They basically said, ‘Well it wouldn't matter if we bid this out because the outcome would be the same.' I was in disbelief," said DiCiccio of Ahwatukee Foothills. "Even through an open and competitive system, they had already made the decision who was going to get the bid. That sends a shockwave to the businesses who don't plan on ever bidding if they know they have no chance of ever getting the contract."
DiCiccio is meeting with business leaders and legislators to try and revise SB 1322 to get more support. Once they revise it they'll go to the governor's office to try and get support there.
"When people are not sure about the bidding process you don't get that many bidders," DiCiccio said. "When you don't get that many bidders it becomes more expensive to the taxpayer. When you have city staff say they don't know how many contracts are out there, that tells you you've got a major problem. The city manager had every opportunity to fix this problem and he refused to do it when it was brought to his attention. Because of public scrutiny he built a subcommittee."
DiCiccio says there may be a chance to fix this problem without a state bill depending on the upcoming election.
The candidates for mayor have been asked to voice their thoughts on the city's bidding process. Claude Maddox and Greg Stanton both agreed with the current system, saying in a city as large as Phoenix a "one size fits all" approach just would not work. Anna Brennan, Jennifer Wright, Peggy Neely and Wes Gullett all said they'd like to see more consistency, which would create more transparency.
When it comes to the name calling DiCiccio has been receiving, he says it's a sign of frustration.
"I think he is clearly frustrated with all the heat he is getting over the food tax and pay raises," DiCiccio said. "He's getting a lot of heat over that from what I understand. Anyone who voted for that food tax should be blaming themselves now that the public is becoming more aware. They're going to get more frustrated as I keep exposing more stuff."
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