Members of the Rockland County Legislature are ready to finally award the county bus contracts, a process which started back in 2010.
The process to award the two bids — Transport of Rockland (TOR) and Tappan ZEExpress — had three companies vying for the bids: Brega, MV Transportation and Coach USA, which owns the Rockland Transit Corp. In September 2012, the legislature voted to award the bid to Brega, which operates out of Spring Valley. The following month, County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef vetoed the awarding of the bid, and that same month, the legislature voted to override the veto.
After a protest from MV Transportation, Vanderhoef voided the agreed upon contract with Brega. The case went to the state Supreme Court, and last week Justice Francis Nicolai, of Putnam, ruled that Vanderhoef “violated lawful procedure in canceling the contract,” according to a resolution the legislature passed at Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution requests that the county executive and county attorney's office comply with the ruling and not appeal Nicolai’s orders. A few legislators mentioned at Tuesday’s meeting they’ve already heard the county executive’s office will appeal.
“I am elated with the decision of the legislature,” said Richard Brega Jr., owner of Brega on Tuesday night. “I think it’s about time we put this behind us. It’s time Brega and the transportation department work together to provide the best service to the residents of the county.”
The resolution was amended by Legislator Alden Wolfe, who suggested they add to it since the county executive could look to use county dollars for outside counsel on the case, the legislature should rescind any appropriation for outside counsel on this particular case. As the appropriating branch of government, Wolfe said it is a way the legislature can put some “teeth” into the resolution
“That’s squarely within our purview. It’s right in our wheelhouse,” he said. “We have the power, we have the authority and, at this point, I think we have the obligation.”
Many other legislators spoke up on the issue, and many of them criticized Vanderhoef’s handling of the situation. Legislator Frank Sparaco called his actions a “total violation of our laws [and] total violation of our decisions.” He also asked about the impeachment process.
“If anything, anything, qualifies somebody for impeachment it should be this situation that we’re in now: overriding a veto override. It’s absurd,” Sparaco said. “I call upon my colleagues to please just ban together in this common sense approach to try to do something, try to do what’s right, try to correct the wrong and try to stop the monster that we’ve created.”
Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, and a few others, mentioned that Brega was the lowest responsible bidder for the contract by at least $6 million. Legislator Patrick Moroney said he just can’t figure out why Vanderhoef keeps trying to void the agreement.