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Snow removal contract reinstated

December 30, 2009

News and notes from the Dec. 28 Rockford City Council meeting

By Stuart R. Wahlin

Staff Writer

One week after requesting new snowplowing bids, Rabine Paving’s snow removal contract was reinstated by the Rockford City Council Dec. 28.

Dec. 11, 17th Circuit Judge Ed Prochaska issued a restraining order after ruling in favor of the lowest bidder, Palka Trucking, which argued it should have received the contract.

Dec. 23, Prochaska reversed his decision, however, indicating he’d not been aware the contract had already been awarded to Rabine, of Richmond. The restraining order, he explained, was meant to prevent the city from entering into an agreement for the contract, not realizing Rabine had already received the award in October.

Three years ago, Rabine was the subject of criticism by a majority of aldermen after widespread complaints were received alleging poor plowing of residential streets, for which the company had been responsible. (See “City caught with snow-pants down?” in the Dec. 6-12, 2006, issue).

During the 2006 controversy, Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13) suggested the city reconsider its relationship with Rabine. Despite the uproar, however, city officials cited their comfort with Rabine’s track record as a reason for awarding the 2009 bid, even though Palka’s bid was $3-per-per-hour-per-truck less.

When the vote to reinstate Rabine came to the floor Dec. 28, McNeely cast the only “no,” questioning Prochaska’s reversal.

“I’m not sure how a judge goes through at least a week of listening to both sides of an issue, and not know what he or she just heard,” she argued. “I have to have some concern there.”

Ordinance

υ Authorizing the mayor and legal director to execute and attest a collective bargaining agreement among the city, the Rockford Public Library and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, Local 3350, for the 2010 year. Ald. McNeely voted “no.”

υ Approving an amendment to the development agreement with Financial Management Systems (FMS), which operates a debt-collection call center on Morsay Drive. Initially, the city had agreed to reimburse FMS $1,000 per job created. Per the amended agreement, the city will provide $50,000 up-front in anticipation of new jobs FMS hopes to create by securing a new client.

Committee reports

υ Awarding a contract for fire extinguisher training equipment to BullEx Digital Safety, of Albany, N.Y. $8,240.19 of the cost is payable with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant funds, and the remaining $2,060.04 will come from the Fire Department’s budget.

υ Authorizing the Fire Department’s purchase of a “Sparky the Fire Dog” costume and remote-controlled fire truck. $10,714 of the purchase price is payable with FEMA grant funds, and the remaining $2,678.50 will be paid from Fire Department funds.

υ Approving payment in the amount of $14,912.73 to Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP, with an office in Chicago, for outside legal counsel. Ald. McNeely voted “no.”

υ Approving a three-month contract with McGuireWoods, LLP, with Illinois offices in Springfield and Chicago, for state and federal lobbying in the amount of $7,500 per month for January through March 2010. Ald. McNeely voted “no.”

υ Rejecting a bid by Ladd Companies for painting services, instead awarding the bid to Rockwell Group, of Freeport, for $74 per hour. Ald. Venita Hervey (D-5) voted “no.”

υ Awarding the position of parking ticket hearing code officer to attorney Joseph Kosek, the sole bidder, at the rate of $100 per hour.

υ Awarding guardrail installation and repair services agreements to Northern Contracting, of Sycamore, and GFS Fence, of Huntley.

υ Approving a $14,200 community development block grant agreement with Kemra Hunt, doing business as Ms. Earma’s BBQ and Southern Cuisine. The agreement will result in 11 full-time-equivalent jobs, at least six of which will be filled by low-income residents. Ald. Hervey abstained.

Public comments

Although acknowledging financial challenges facing the city, retired police officer and former Winnebago County Board member Bruce Roberts again asked members of the council to find a way to hire more police officers in the coming year.

Noting New Year’s Eve as the 30th anniversary of Randy Blank’s shooting death in the line of duty, Roberts honored the sacrifices of officers and described police work in Rockford as a very difficult job.

“There are a number of things going on in this community right now. It’s become a dangerous place,” he said. “We have a number of problems to deal with, and I’m sure through cooperation with community and the Police Department, through the efforts of people from the city, those things can be attacked, but they’ve gotten to be a very serious circumstance.”

Sherie Scott informed the community of a new organization called Bring Our Children Home (BOCH).

“We are a grassroots organization that is trying to help parents deal with their rights with DCFS [Department of Children and Family Services],” she explained. “Also, we are preparing to offer parenting classes, domestic violence classes, and teen awareness and family unity classes.”

The phone number for BOCH, 325 Market St., is (815) 962-3264.

From the Dec. 30, 2009 – Jan. 5, 2010 issue

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