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Legislators Award Bus Contract To Brega

The vote passed 14-1

 

The Rockland County Legislature voted to award the contract for its two bus services -- Transport of Rockland, or TOR, and Tappan ZEExpress -- to Brega Transport Corp. in Valley Cottage at Wednesday night’s meeting.

The process to award the bid has taken two years, with three companies still vying for the bid: Brega, MV Transportation and Coach USA, which owns the Rockland Transit Corp.

The meeting on Wednesday, like the process thus far, was a bit contentious. It started when one of MV Transportation’s lawyers, Matthew Daus, of law firm Windels Marx, spoke during public comments. Daus, who in the past was appointed by New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg to the position of commissioner and chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, said he’s never seen a process like this.

“I’ve never seen a procurement as complicated, as drawn out and as tinkered with as this procurement has been, due to no fault, in my opinion, of the intentions of the legislature,” he said.

“We’ve exercised restraint up until this point. We have not filed a complaint with the [Federal Transit Administration] because we don’t want Rockland to lose its federal funding and hurt the citizens of this fine county because a local preference has been given to the opposing bidder in this manner.”

Daus added that if the legislators voted to give the contract to Brega, MV Transportation would take legal action, as they don’t feel it’s within the legislature’s guidelines to determine which company has the lowest responsible bid.

Legislator Ilan Schoenberger said he didn’t appreciate essentially being likened to a “rubber stamp” for whatever the administration wants to do.

“I’m a legislator. I’ve been elected to use my God-given common sense and my honest full faith and judgement to make a determination, and I am doing so in this process without favoritism towards anyone,” he said. “I believe that the low bidder is in the best interest of the County of Rockland.”

Legislator Alden Wolfe said the legislature is within its right to award the bid.

“We have a court order directing us to award to the lowest responsible bidder,” he said. “This legislature has the authority, per our county attorney, to determine the issue of responsibility.”

Last year, Richard Brega Jr., owner of Brega, brought the county to the state Supreme Court because he felt the process of requesting proposals opposed to using competitive bidding was unfair to smaller businesses. Justice Francis Nicolai, of Putnam, ruled in favor of Brega.

It looks like the contract issue will once again go to court in what was called “an absolute last resort” by Daus.

“We are going to, if you act today, bring a lawsuit both against the legislature and possibly individually against individual legislators, as well as against Brega,” Daus said.

Wolfe didn’t take to the idea of the company suing individual legislators.

“The fact is, we’re getting sued either way, and I recognize that, but I have to say that I was particularly put off by the threat to sue some of us individuals. Give me a break,” he said. “The last person to threaten to sue us individually ended up getting arrested for dangling off the Tappan Zee Bridge with a sign. The fact is that this type of tactic doesn’t work here in Rockland County. Maybe it works in New York City, but it doesn’t work here.”

Daus also asked the legislators and their counsels to put a litigation hold on any and all documents and emails involved in the contract issue, making sure not to throw out or delete anything. Later in the meeting, Daus backed off from his comments about possibly suing legislators individually.

The executive branch has not given a recommendation on the bids yet, and the legislators felt like they had taken action.

“I have moved this resolution. It is my duty and responsibility as the chair of the Budget & Finance Committee to move the resolutions out of Budget & Finance, but I would’ve moved it anyway,” said Schoenberger. “Last July, this Budget & Finance Committee asked the administration to give us their evaluation and review of the bidders, and their financial ability to perform the job and their staffing ability to perform the job, as requested in the contract. We have yet to this day to receive an answer from the administration on that. We have reviewed to the best of our ability the bids that are submitted, and we are in compliance with Judge Nicolai’s order, which directed us, I believe that was the order of November 2010, to reward the bid to the lowest responsible bidder.”

Chairwoman of the Legislature Harriet Cornell agreed that it was time to award the bid.

“The vote is here and there is a feeling that this can just go on and on and on,” she said. “When this legislature acts, it will go to the county executive, and he will either approve it or he will veto it or he will do nothing, and then it will pass on its own, and then you all will go out and do what you need to do. If there’s going to be lawsuits, it doesn’t make us happy, but this is where it is.”

Even disregarding whether or not the legislature can award the bid or not, not all legislators voted in favor of the ruling Wednesday night. The vote passed 14-1 with one legislator, Christopher Carey, absent from the meeting. Legislator John Murphy abstained from the vote, as Brega is the transportation company for Camp Venture, of which Murphy is president.

The lone legislator to vote against the resolution was Nancy Low-Hogan, who said she wasn’t comfortable awarding the bid to Brega for a variety of reasons.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for the legislature to be the determiner of bidding qualifications on a transportation company,” she said. “I doubt the process, not Brega’s company.”

She did voice one concern about Brega, which came up in meetings with Brega in the past. Low-Hogan said she asked Brega about running a public transportation system the size of the county’s because the company never has. Brega told her that he has people working for his company who have experience operating systems that size, just for other companies.

JLeo September 20, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I have written many comments about this contract, and written to the Legislature without a response. I doubt the Legislature's vote will hold up. Purchasing had their hands tied due to court cases pending, that have been getting adjourned since June. Brega played the Legislature perfectly. He knew they would eventually have to vote before the court cases were heard. And for that I have to give him credit. The Legislature could have contacted the FTA at anytime, but chose not to. Legislator Logan, (obviously the most learned of the Legislature) knew she was not qualified to make a decision of this magnitude without all of the information. Now the Legislature thinks they sped up the process. In reality, they slowed it down. Now, there are even more lawsuits on the horizon. The FTA will come to Rockland and they are not going to be happy with this fiasco. If they pull their funds as they have done before, watch for finger pointing. Shame on this Legislature for being so blatantly manipulated. Oh by the way, Brega said he hired people that operate systems of the same size of Rockland's. That would be great if Rockland had a subway system, as one of his men does have that experience.
ELITECZM September 21, 2012 at 09:24 PM
And here we go again, just stop. You have done nothing but sling Brega's name in the mud. You have the opposing company that threatens a law suit if the contract is rewarded in Brega's favor - isn't that just trying to force the legislature into making a decision in favor of Coach? Sure seems that way....And yet it seems as though you condone that behavior. So in other words you are in favor of basically blackmailing someone to get your way?? You really need to take a seat back, and let the people who actually have the capability and proper reasoning make the decisions. If you where such an expert in Transit, then why was your voice not heard at the legislature meetings? Or to reiterate what I touched on before, maybe you are just an employee of the competitor of Brega's, posting under a pen-name, and trying to slander Brega into the dirt to make your boss look better. By the way, you never answered my original questions to you: "What is it that you have against Brega?" I really do welcome a well thought, and well put together response from you, that essentially explains your point and brings a valid reason behind your obvious hatred. Somehow I highly doubt you will respond with anything of value, you will probably turn your caps lock on, and try say how he isnt the lowest responsible bidder. So answer me this then, what makes someone a responsible bidder or not? So go ahead, turn your caps lock off before your wife beats you, and formulate an intellent response.
JLeo September 22, 2012 at 01:42 AM
You just don't get it. He underbid Coach by not recognizing the drivers union, that's where the $7,000,000 over 5 years is. He said in his bid he will try to abide by the union contract. He is taking the drivers, excuse the pun, for a ride.
Orlando Alberto Franklin September 22, 2012 at 02:02 AM
in a bad economy when things are unaffordable a bridge is the talk of the county something is definitely wrong here...
JLeo September 22, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I am just curious, did anyone from the legislature go over the bids from the three companies to see where Brega was saving $7,000,000? Think about it, fuel costs the same, the buses are provided by the county, maintenance should be the same, management costs might vary a bit. But the largest cost that still should have been close is the drivers. They are all union employees, and Brega asked your legislature if title 13 applies to these employees(honoring the union contract), you said no, but the contract has the drivers union as part of the bid specs. It does not take a high paid account to figure out if he does not recognize the union he could easily save $7,000,000, that's what makes his bid non-responsive. It's to late to undo the voting of the last meeting, but look at the numbers $7,000,000 divided by 5yr = $1,400,000 divided by 100 drivers = $14,000 divided by 52weeks = $269 divided by 40hrs a week = $6.72/hr And with payroll tax savings that can probably be about $5hr, so all he would have to do is pay his drivers about $5 less per hour to save $7,000,000 over 5 years, so the bottom line is, its not apples to apples.
JLeo September 22, 2012 at 11:00 PM
This is from a County Legislatures meeting June 26,2012 ACTIONS: AS AMENDED IN PPW LAW DEPARTMENT TO PROVIDE COMMITTEE CHAIR WITH A WRITTEN OPINION ADDRESSING ISSUES RAISED BY MR. RICHARD BREGA. HE ASSERTS THAT THE REPRESENTATION BEING MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THIS CONTRACT AS RELATES TO REASSIGNMENT OF COUNTY BUS CONTRACTS, THAT THERE IS NO TITLE 13 LABOR LAW REQUIREMENT APPLICABLE TO THE CURRENT BUS OPERATORS CONTRACT BECAUSE ITS EMPLOYEES ARE NOT COUNTY OF ROCKLAND EMPLOYEES OR MEMBERS OF THE ROCKLAND COUNTY GOVERNMENT UNIONS, NOTIFICATION, IF ANY, WOULD NOT COME FROM THE COUNTY OF ROCKLAND. MOTION TO APPROVE: UNAN SPARACO/GRANT ADDED SPONSORS: LEGS. HOOD, JR., CORNELL, EARL, SOSKIN
JLeo September 23, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Why would Richard Brega question Title 13 if he had every intention of abiding by the current union contract that the Coach USA employees worked so hard to get?
ELITECZM September 25, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Ok, so now the cat is out of the bag. You are either a Coach driver, or a Coach employee that is making assumptions based on ill-advised knowledge. You do not know what he is going to do, you are assuming that he will not abide by the current union contract. And what are you basing this on? A question? Not for nothing, but if the union contract is not mentioned in the bid, nor is it a requirement in the bid, then it is not grounds for Brega to be non-responsible. It simply means he was able to read the bid requirements, where none of the other bidding parties where able to do so. All of this is again assuming thats what his intentions are. And again, it doesn't matter what you think he is going to do...BUT even if he does do what you think he will: ITS WITHIN HIS RIGHT TO DO SO. Case and point being you once again failed to prove a valid point that would make him "not-responsible" - I again urge you to come with a valid argument that is backed with actual facts and not assumptions. Lets see what you will come up with now - Good day sir.
JLeo September 25, 2012 at 01:16 PM
You are one stubborn person. The bid was written to have the union contract as part of the contract. Brega does not have the right to change that. I do not work for Coach USA, but maybe you have connections to Brega, thats more likely. I made no assumptions, I copied a portion of the Legislatures meeting, Brega asked about Title 13, thats a fact. We will see how it plays out in the courts, it matters not what I say, that's for sure. The politicians do what they want when they want. Look at Sparaco being hired as a part time worker for $75,000 a year. Over 200 applicants and he gets the job.
JLeo September 25, 2012 at 01:17 PM
By the way the county did say he was non-responsive because of the union contract...that's a fact
ELITECZM September 25, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Lets review your statements so I can really make you look silly... "I do not work for Coach USA, but maybe you have connections to Brega, thats more likely. I made no assumptions, I copied a portion of the Legislatures meeting, Brega asked about Title 13, thats a fact." Fine, not going to contend the fact that Brega questioned Title 13. Here is where you start to assume: "Why would Richard Brega question Title 13 if he had every intention of abiding by the current union contract that the Coach USA employees worked so hard to get?" Assumption, not fact. "You just don't get it. He underbid Coach by not recognizing the drivers union, that's where the $7,000,000 over 5 years is. He said in his bid he will try to abide by the union contract. He is taking the drivers, excuse the pun, for a ride." Again, Assumption not fact. Care to try again?
JLeo September 25, 2012 at 05:17 PM
No I do not, the proof will come soon enough
JLeo September 26, 2012 at 12:48 AM
“We all know there are a lot of people out of work in Rockland County, looking to be retrained and find good-paying union jobs,” A quote from Richard Brega, I hope he puts his money where his mouth is
John Leopoldo September 30, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Well it is now September 2013 and the contract has not changed hands yet. Brega said they could not be ready by the startup date of October 1, and what was one of his problems, he is in negotiations with the two drivers unions. Do you have any doubts why? If he abided by the current union contract, why would he have any problems at all.

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