Saturday, November 24, 2012

Furniture Fiasco: The Production

The City of San Angelo's Furniture Fiasco began in early March of 2012.  In some ways it's ongoing, giving the sudden resignations of Water Chief Will Wilde and his Assistant Tom Kerr.

I offer the following slide set which shows a timeline of events, information from city documents and e-mail communications from key leaders.   I attempted to put a voluminous amount of information (kindly shared with me by Matt Waller of The Standard Times) into succinct, chronological order.   

Clearly, top city leaders had their fingerprints on this problematic purchase, which violated state and local law according to Roger Banks, the City's purchasing director, by not issuing a purchase order.

Water Utilities Assistant Director Tom Kerr played the largest role, while Water Chief Will Wilde served as furniture overseer.  Assistant City Manager Elizabeth Grindstaff cheered the initial order, something she omitted in her October 16th characterization to City Council.  CFO Michael Dane was Interim City Manager for virtually the whole timeline and the City Manager's office also cheered the order.

Purchasing Director Roger Banks seemed out of the loop until September, when he cited three concerns about the furniture situation.  However, Banks was the recipient of hand me down Water Department furniture from Kevin Krueger, a Water Engineer.

Bottom Line:  The responsibility to initiate the purchase order fell with the Water Department.  It's their budget and furniture.  Failure to work with the Purchasing Department and Interim City Manager Michael Dane in late May, early June resulted in furniture being ordered and installed in violation of policy and law.

There's more to the story, like how the parties reacted while being questioned by new City Manager Daniel Valenzuela.  Water Chief Will Wilde had the added pressure of a possible conflict of interest from his son Blake, fired by the City for cause and not eligible for rehire, working as a subcontractor for the Hickory pipeline project (a story broken on this blog).

As Councilman Alexander stated during the October 16 furniture discussion, "Grace is under pressure."  City Manager Valenzuela finished his investigation and meted out justice.  Hopefully, a large dose of honesty can relieve more of that pressure.

Update 11-28-12:  Kerr and Wilde finally spoke to their sudden retirement, citing a desire to slow down.  

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