Image: Montgomery County Purchasing Director Gilbert Jalomo looks down at his script while attempting to explain to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court what purchases he thinks he’s recommending for them to make on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.
Conroe, July 2 – Montgomery County Purchasing Director Gilbert Jalomo, County Judge Craig Doyal’s handpicked man for the position, seemed completely lost during the Purchasing portion of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Jalomo had great difficulty reading the agenda word for word when he appeared before the Commissioners Court but, when any member of the Court asked questions, the confused man could’ve used some help.
In the same meeting where Jalomo didn’t even know that there was a Purchasing Department item on the agenda concerning McNutt Funeral Home, Jalomo had a terrible time explaining any of the proposed purchases of his Department. Despite 13 people in his County Purchasing Department, which costs the taxpayers $1.14 million to operate, Jalomo was, once again, largely unprepared for discussion of the Purchasing items before the Commissioners Court.
There were four agenda items, during the open discussion portion of the June 26 Commissioners Court meeting. First, Jalomo asked the Commissioners Court to approve a change order in the amount of $83,582.72 with DVL Enterprises, LLC, for the widening of Forest Gate Drive to Kuykendahl Road in Commissioners Precinct 3.
In the Change Order, which Jalomo approved and presented to the Commissioners Court, the wording of the change was “Addition Quantities for high early strength concrete at driveways, asphalt construction detours and and concrete riprap at armor curb outlets.” Of course, the Commissioners Court approved the change order, which Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack had requested, without further discussion.
The next item got much worse. The agenda description was “Project #18-54 RFP – Remote Administration of IBM AIX Unix System for IT.” When Noack asked some pretty mundane questions, Jalomo clearly didn’t have a clue what this proposal even concerned. Jalomo couldn’t give any contract price, although he said “there is a weekly charge,” which Jalomo was unable to identify.
When Noack asked whether the Commissioners Court approval should state that it “should not exceed” a certain amount, Jalomo couldn’t even estimate what that amount would be but merely said “the budget is the ceiling.” Of course, Jalomo never identified what the “budget” was for this contract either.
Sadly, the Commissioners Court then voted unanimously to approve a contract that they never saw, had no idea what the price might be, and didn’t even know for what the budget might be.
Continuing to slide down into a pit of confusion, Jalomo and the Commissioners Court moved on to the next agenda item, “Project 18-30 RFP, All Hazards Preparedness, Planning, Consulting and Recovery for Emergency Management.” Jalomo tried to explain that there were seven bidders and he proposed to give the contract to Tetratech Technologies, which such contract the County government would only implement in the event of an “emergency hurricane.”
Noack would hear nothing of Jalomo’s proposal. “In my opinion, they [Tetratech] did a terrible job for us. They underperformed at least in Precinct 3.”
Precinct 1 County Commissioner Meador noted, “I had a problem with Crowder,” the other Harvey contractor. Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley added, “Crowder Gulf definitely didn’t step up.”
Noack further explained, “Tetratech wouldn’t keep debris sites clean. Their monitoring people were terrible…they harassed the truck drivers.”
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark added, “There were five people under a tent at the debris site. A truck pulled up and then they got in a fight over who’s going to wait on them. I wouldn’t support this [proposal to award the contract to Tetratech] at all.”
Jalomo’s clear haste in awarding a vitally important contract to Tetratech Technologies clearly blew up in his face. At the urging of Clark, the Commissioners Court deferred acting on the item and sent Jalomo back to his office to do a better job.
The final Purchasing item was to spend $178,124 for a big crane truck to help install signals. Noack had requested that Jalomo and the Purchasing Department obtain that item quickly in order to assist with projects in both Noack’s Precinct 3 and Riley’s Precinct 2, where Noack’s team helps Riley with signal installations. Since Noack oversaw that purchase, there were no snafus with that proposal, which easily passed the Commissioners Court on a unanimous vote.
Jalomo seems to need sorely some assistance from Noack and Noack’s staff in almost all of the Purchasing decisions. When the Noack team gets involved, the Purchasing goes smoothly. Otherwise, Jalomo seems to have little understanding of his job.