The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) finally moved to replace the paratransit services subcontracted by Outreach & Escort, Inc. in an emergency closed session last Thursday, November 3. VTA had cancelled its contract with Outreach in June after a scathing audit revealed that Outreach had ripped off VTA by as much as $7 million per year for paratransit services it never provided.
It was a surreal moment at the VTA Board Meeting that Thursday as Chair Cindy Chavez went to great lengths to explain that they would have to re-order the agenda due to the extreme nature of the item that must be discussed. VTA moved ahead with a $12.5 million, five-month contract with virtually zero public notice or public review.
Twenty minutes to decide on a $12.5 million contract in the emergency closed session? What happened to public input? There was none at this meeting. As it was in a Closed Session there was none.
ADDENDUM TO AGENDA
Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation [Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)] Number of potential cases: 1
9.3.X ACTION ITEM – Authorize the General Manager to enter into a contract with MV Transportation, Inc. to provide emergency paratransit transportation services for an amount not to exceed $12.5 million for a term of five months with the option to extend as needed. The option to extend will be in an amount not to exceed $2.5 million a month until the paratransit provider selected from the current Request for Proposal (RFP) is mobilized to provide services on a new contract. Also increase the FY 2017 VTA Transit Fund Operating Budget by $5.3 million.
But what does this say about VTA’s senior management? Why was the oversight and auditing by VTA so sloppy that $7 million in non-existent transit services went by for years unnoticed?
The obvious followup to this question is what else is going unnoticed in VTA’s management of the $4.7 billion BART to Silicon Valley Phase 2 extension and other transit mega-projects such as 522 Bus Rapid Transit to East San Jose? What else is falling through the cracks?
If VTA has not learned from these glaring mistakes, what confidence should voters have that the Measure B sales tax will be implemented any more competently that the 2000 Measure A was? Why vote for another 30 years of failure?
How to vote in Santa Clara County. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2016.