“And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good – – Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?”
Conroe, November 18 – It was embarrassing to watch Montgomery County Purchasing Director Gilbert Jalomo present a request for approximately $125,000 of BMW motorcycles during the Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, as Jalomo, the Purchasing Department, and the Sheriff’s Office were completely unprepared for the major funding request. The presentation didn’t go well, as the entire Commissioners Court rapidly fell into a gumption trap and soon succumbed to the metaphysics of quality.
“The BMW R60…is famous for not giving mechanical problems on the road and that’s what he’s counting on.” – – R. Pirsig
Riding motorcycles can be a lot of fun. The smooth engineering of BMWs, compared to Harley Davidsons, can make a lot of difference for the quality of the ride. The question of BMWs versus Harleys came before the Commissioners Court in an ugly manner. The ugliness sprang from the lack of preparation of those presenting the request for the taxpayers to spend $125,000 on some cool bikes.
What was actually good about the Commissioners Court deliberation, however, was that the Commissioners Court actually deliberated. In other words, Commissioners Noack and Clark, in particular, discussed the issue, asked questions, and showed some care for the taxpayers.
The following is the discussion in the Commissioners Court about the purchase of BMW motorcycles.
County Purchasing Director Gilbert Jalomo: “We’re awarding three contracts the first of which is for new police motorcyles which is to Gulf Coast BMW and the grand total is $125,440.”
Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack: “Do you know if that is per bike or is that for a specific number?”
Galore: “That is for a specific number of vehicles, yes sir.”
Noack: “Do we know how many?”
Jalomo: “I knew you were going to ask that question. I’ll get you that number, but it’s for a specific number of motorcycles.”
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley: “Is it for the Sheriff’s Office or for the constables; who’s getting ‘em?”
Jalomo: “It’s available to other departments as a term contract, so they can buy off of this contract but for right now all we’re buying is for the Sheriff’s Office.”
Noack: “You don’t know how many?”
Jalomo: “I do not know how many.”
(Incredibly, Jalomo still expected the Commissioners Court to approve spending $125,000 at this point!)
Noack: “I guess what I’m trying to get at is that we’re going to BMWs from Harleys. And I want to know what the cost difference was.”
Jalomo: “I can get you that.”
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark: “Why wouldn’t it be per motorcycle if it’s a contract?”
Jalomo: “I’ll get you the unit price. In fact, I have it written on my chart here to get you the unit price. I just didn’t have the opportunity.”
(Then why did he bring this item before the Commissioners Court?!)
Noack: “Can we defer it until you bring to us?”
Riley: “Let’s just defer it while Kelly goes to get it.”
Kelly ran out of the Commissioners Courtroom past Wayne Mack’s court coordinator who was vociferously chewing gum.
Jalomo: “I apologize for that.”
County Judge Craig Doyal: “We’ll bring it back.”
3 minutes later.
Jalomo: “I have the info on the motorcycles. So. We have 5 vehicles, 5 motorcycles, that are $25,088 each. Previously what was being bought were Harleys and they were $15,800. The justification that we’re given is that the cost for maintaining the Harley Davidsons is more expensive than for the BMWs. Therefore, that’s the request we got was to bid out the BMW bikes.”
Clark: “Are those fully equipped or is that just the motorcycle and we have to put all the…”
Jalomo: “Yes, it is a police package motorcycle.”
Noack: “They’re already…”
Clark: “Still you’ll have to put radios…”
Kelly: “In regards to repairs, BMW will actually train a service technician…”
Jalomo: “…in house.”
Doyal: “There’s that much difference in repair costs?”
Noack: “A $10,000 difference for a Harley versus a BMW in repair costs, I don’t buy that.”
Clark: “Did you hear what they just said? We cannot repair them. We have to go to Harley Davidson. We can’t a trained Harley and BMW is willing so that we can repair the vehicle.”
Noack: “Do we have that person or will we have to hire someone”?
Jalomo: “We’ll have to train an individual who is currently employed to be a BMW tech.”
Noack: “If we have five bikes, that’s $50,000…I don’t see that being worth it, in my opinion.”
Jalomo: “I agree. Let’s defer this and I’ll bring you some more information. It’s more of a program change than just buying.”
Clark: “Please bring back the repair costs.”
Noack: “Yeah. I’d like to see a report of what we spent repairing these Harleys because I know we bought them every year.”
Jalomo: “We’ll defer that one and I’ll bring it back at another time.”