Tuesday, June 12, 2018

City Losing Key Public Safety Leaders


The City of San Angelo received resignation letters from its Fire Marshall and Emergency Operations Manager in the last week.  Fire Marshall Ross Coleman resigned unexpectedly last Tuesday.  Emergency Operations Director Steve Mild resigned to work in the oil field.  Mild's last day is June 15th.  Fire Chief Brian Dunn has two key public safety positions to fill.

Last fall the city saw the exodus of Street and Bridge leadership, as well as staff.  That set of resignations impacted the city's ability to rehab roads using the $1.2 million Benedetti machine.  It's not clear if the city has its Street and Bridge division back to full staffing, given interim leadership remains in place after Superintendent Paul Hathaway resigned in November 2018.  Stormwater Superintendent Stephen Conley is serving as Interim Road and Bridge Superintendent. 

It remains to be seen how Coleman's and Mild's leaving will impact public services. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Benedetti Update Concerning


San Angelo City Councilman Tommy Thompson asked staff for an update on the city's $1.2 million Benedetti Machine purchased to resurface city roads.  As the request was made in City Council one might expect a public update.  That did not happen.  Staff sent out a memo update in the March 16th Friday packet.  Operations Director Shane Kelton added a bit more information on the Benedetti Machine during Council's strategic planning session on March 29th.

Council learned the $1.2 million machine had been idle.  It broke within the warranty period and needed repair, according to Kelton's memo:

The hot in place asphalt recycling machine, better known locally as the Benedetti machine, has not been operated since fall of 2017. The initial reason for its lack of use was due to a faulty rear main seal on one of the Caterpillar drive engines. This engine issue was a Caterpillar warranty issue and unfortunately we were not high on Caterpillar’s repair list and the repair took some time to be accomplished.
Surely the manufacturer made warranty commitments for a $1.2 million piece of equipment.

The Street and Bridge division had more problems than a broken seal.

By the time this repair was made, the Street and Bridge Division had suffered a significant loss of personnel. Moving into late fall and early winter the division was down approximately 50% to 55% of its approved staffing level.
With staffing levels so low and the wet cool weather we received in the fall, pothole repair, trench repair and crack sealing in preparation for the annual seal coat contract was all the remaining staff could manage. Although low staffing levels was the primary reason for not returning the machine back to use over the winter months, colder than normal weather also has played a role in its lack of use. Air and pavement temperatures need to be above 45 degrees for the machine to work properly.
As of March 29th staffing remained a concern. Kelton's memo stated:

The Street and Bridge Division is currently working without its Superintendent, Supervisor and five Heavy Equipment Operator positions, one Maintenance worker position and one Shop Technician.
The lack of permanent divisional leadership during this training and reimplementation period is less than ideal. In an effort to ensure the success of the training and reimplementation of this machine and its process, I am assigning Patrick Frerich, Assistant Director of Operations, to oversee the daily operations of the Street and Bridge Division until permanent divisional leadership is established.
In summary, the expensive road refinishing equipment had a seal fall apart.  City Street and Bridge leadership fell apart and staff left in droves.  I can see why Shane Kelton sent a memo in a Friday packet.  A public presentation would have good leaders asking multiple why questions.

1.  Why did a seal fail in a new piece of $1.2 million equipment?
2.  Why did Street and Bridge leadership disappear?
3.  Why did Street and Bridge staff leave?  Was it related to either of the first two questions?
4.  Why does the City have to bring back the Benedetti people to train staff?  Why can't a local knowledge base be built for the expensive equipment that staff sold as the savior for some city roads?  The city knows how to make videos.  
5.  What role did Patrick Frerich play in questions 1-4?  If he helped turnover happen is he the right person to right the ship?  
The city has to patch up its road repair division so it can patch up city roads in disrepair.

The first streets that will be reworked with this machine are collectors and arterials that are candidates for mill and overlay rehabilitation. Such streets include: North Chadbourne from 29th Street to 47th Street and the 29th – Edmund – Glenna street segments.
City management has work to do.  It may need to start with itself.

Update 5-26-18:  The equipment came with a 12 month bumper to bumper warranty.  The city can require the vendor to buy back the equipment at 18 months.  City documents showed a "buyback guarantee:after 18 months, vendor option to repurchase the equipment, less half the current charge-out rate for recycling, multiplied by the total amount of square yards already completed."

Thursday, May 24, 2018

MedHab Has Three Months Left per COSA Agreement


MedHab's $3.5 million economic development agreement with the City of San Angelo expires in August 2018.  MedHab had six years to add promised jobs.  It committed to provide a minimum of 75 jobs and up to 227 jobs by the end of the contract.


A Standard Times report from February 2018 indicates MedHab CEO Johnny Ross will make one final push.

Market analysis shows there is a great need for the MyNotifi device, Ross said, leading him to believe his company may soon need a larger facility. Right now MedHab is in the West Texas Training Center, with 10 employees.

Ross said he expects sales to take off since he came to an agreement with the National Senior Corps Association, which works with several organizations that assist seniors, such as Meals on Wheels.

His hope, he said, is to hire about 50 new employees by the end of the year to help with the San Angelo-based distribution and tech support.
MedHab is not the only performance agreement coming due this summer. Hirschfeld must complete a $1 million rail spur this year.  Both MedHab and Hirschfeld failed to meet lofty employment promises.  2018 will reveal how far short they fell. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One Rabies Case Per Month in 2018


The City of San Angelo had one rabies case per month in 2018 according to city documents.
 In three of the four cases a pet dog was exposed to the diseased animal.

Despite multiple cases of rabies the city failed to produce compliance data on rabies vaccinations for shelter pets, saying the contractor had that information.  No paid city leaders or elected officials compelled Concho Valley PAWS to produce compliance data, even as local rabies cases were confirmed.

The Animal Services Advisory Committee did not meet in February or April of 2018.  The February meeting was cancelled due to lack of agenda items.

The cancellations seemed odd as the City undertook two strategic arrangements with Concho Valley PAWS, the contracting of veterinarian services and leasing land next to the Animal Shelter.  City Council missed the advice and consent of this potentially important committee on these issues.

A lot was going on for a group that was given nothing to do.

Update 5-17-18:  Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden informed the ASAC the April meeting was also cancelled due to lack of agenda items.  City Council undertook the PAWS land lease on May 1st.  An April ASAC meeting would have been the time for this committee to advise City Council.  That did not happen.

ASAC Board member Jenie Wilson gave an operational update from the board level.  Ideally she would have taken off her board hat and given testimony from the staff podium.   City Attorney Theresa James viewed Jenie's talk on May adoptions as fitting within the April statistics agenda item and allowed it to occur from the board level.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

City of San Angelo: Love is in the Air


The April Development Corporation meeting indicated big changes could be underway for the City's contract with the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce.  Chamber Board and COSADC board member Elizabeth Grindstaff set the stage for changes in an exchange with Assistant City Manager Michael Dane, currently filling in as Economic Development Director.  At the 1:22 mark Dane waffled as to the motivation for any changes and avoided details of what those might be.

Love, specifically SANANGELOVE is a theme of the San Angelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is a Division of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce.  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela and Chamber executive Suzanna Aguirre found that very thing, according to sources.

Suzanna Aguirre played a role in Daniel's first blemish, the Furniture Fiasco.   City e-mails show Aguirre facilitated the ordering and installation of Water Department Furniture as the City Manager's Executive Office Coordinator.   Daniel's investigation into the unauthorized purchase of over $100,000 in furniture failed to answer the most basic questions.  Six years later the two parties are in SanAngelove.

Valenzuela had nothing to do with the Furniture Fiasco, other than a hapless investigation.  The unauthorized purchase occurred under Interim City Manager Michael Dane.  Assistant City Manager Elizabeth Grindstaff served as project manager for the City Hall renovation and encouraged the Water Department to order furniture.  Valenzuela's investigation never interviewed Dane or the city's purchasing manager.

The same players, Valenzuela, Dane, and Grindstaff hold key roles relative to the the Chamber contract renegotiation.  Aguirre's professional role is less direct but she has a significant relationship with City Manager Daniel Valenzuela.  This may just be interesting history but it is background for critical players in the upcoming City-Chamber contract drama.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

What Killed Former Avenue P Project?


San Angelo Live characterized prior efforts to address Avenue P flooding with:

Another idea floated was to construct drainage piping below the streets there. But expected opposition from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and environmental agencies who control the drainage into the Concho River would have killed that idea if the exorbitant cost didn’t before.
It wasn't just another idea floated.  San Angelo City Council Minutes from July 16, 2013 show

ADOPTION OF A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY OF SAN ANGELO CITY COUNCIL AWARDING RFB NO. ES-01-13 “ENGINEERING SERVICES AVENUE P STREET & DRAINAGE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT” TO REECE ALBERT, INC., AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO NEGOTIATE AND EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF AVENUE P STREET & DRAINAGE REMEDIATION PROJECT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SAN ANGELO AND REECE ALBERT, INC. IN ACCORDANCE WITH SAID BID AWARD, IN SUBSTANTIALLY THE ATTACHED FORM, SAID AGREEMENT BEING SUBJECT TO RESCISSION ON DECEMBER 31, 2013 SHOULD THE NECESSARY RIGHT-OF-WAY AND NECESSARY EASEMENTS NOT BE ACQUIRED BY CITY BEFORE DECEMBER 31, 2013, AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER SUCH AGREEMENT (Page 659, #2013- 07-103)

Interim City Engineer Tim Wolff presented background information. A copy of the presentation is part of the Permanent Supplemental Record. Motion, to adopt the Resolution awarding RFB No. ES-01-13 “Engineering Services Avenue P Street & Drainage Improvement Project” to Reece Albert, Inc,, as presented, was made by Councilmember Silvas and seconded by Councilmember Fleming. General discussion was held on the project funding, including Stormwater and General Fund funding. A vote was taken on the motion on the floor. Motion carried unanimously.

A slide presentation indicated the City had a $1.7 million budget for the project.  With Council's approval and dollars set aside only easements were needed.  Drainage under the street was very close to becoming a reality, however the city's stormwater engineer failed to obtain the easements and the project returned to the possible solutions bin.  

San Angelo Live pulled a valid project out for trashing.  Why the journalistic miss?

Addition 5-2-18:  That engineer who failed?  That was Tim Wolff.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

PAWS Expansion Bypasses Animal Shelter Advisory Committee


In early 2018 San Angelo's City Council approved a new five year adoptions contract and a new veterinary services contact for Concho Valley PAWS.  Council will consider leasing 3.6 acres of land to PAWS for an adoption/veterinary services center in its May 1st meeting.  City staff state "none" for the financial impact of the project 

Consider a resolution authorizing the City Manager or his designee to negotiate and execute a lease agreement and all related documents with the Humane Society of Tom Green County, d/b/a Concho Valley Paws on vacant land adjacent to the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter facility, for use as an animal resource center for the performance of related animal rescue, shelter, veterinarian and adoption services (Preas)
Two of the three strategic items bypassed the Animal Services Advisory Committee, which had its monthly meeting cancelled twice thus far in 2018.  After the February ASAC meeting was cancelled the city approved extending PAWS contract for five years despite serious compliance concerns with the local spay/neuter ordinance and state law requiring rabies vaccinations.  City staff assured City Council they had reconciliations and statistics showing no problems, yet staff could not produce the very information they represented to council.  After cancelling the April meeting Council will entertain the lease proposal.

Two major decisions bypassed the advice and consent of the body charged with sharing their expertise with City Council on animal related matters. As a result of these decisions two PAWS representatives sit on the ASAC and are charged with providing oversight for the very services they provide the city.  Something stinks in San Angelo's City Hall.

Update 5-2-18:  City Council approved the PAWS lease in the consent agenda with no presentation or discussion.  Council did not explore PAWS plans or vision.  The public missed yet another opportunity to learn how PAWS wants to help the city in return for what fees.  A responsible council would explore what a successful project would look like and have provisions in place if plans don't materialize.

Update 5-16-18:  The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee learned of four rabies cases thus far in 2018.  That is one topic of the ASAC meeting tomorrow.

Update 6-11-18:  The June meeting has been cancelled once again.  The last two meetings were cancelled due to lack of agenda items according to Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden.  During this time agenda items leapfrogged ASAC and went straight to City Council.