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Mayor Moving Forward With NAPA Deal

Updated: Friday, June 6 2014, 04:51 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD -- Appearing on local radio Thursday morning, Mayor Mike Houston said he was moving forward with a multimillion dollar contract with NAPA auto parts, despite concerns over how the city chose the company.

City officials skipped the normal bidding process for the contract to manage the consolidated garage because they thought they had an exemption. Whether or not that exemption actually exists has come into question, though.

On Tuesday night aldermen decided to leave an ordinance in committee that would have re-affirmed the NAPA deal. Houston said on the radio, that he took the council's inaction to mean it was up to him to make a final decision on the $3.75 million dollar contract.

So he did.

"I think he looked at the totality of the situation," said City Budget Director Bill McCarty, "and has decided it is in the best interest of the people in Springfield to move forward now rather than to wait potentially until January to get this."

But did Houston misread the aldermen's intentions? Newschannel 20 spoke with seven of the ten aldermen. To varying degrees, Alderman Edwards, Simpson, Cahnman, McMenamin and Jobe said they were unhappy with the mayor's decision.

Ward 2 Ald. Gail Simpson described the mayor's actions as "what the city does."

"We have the result we want, so it doesn't matter how we got to it; we'll go ahead and proceed," she said.

Of the seven, Ward 4 Ald. Frank Lesko was undecided. Ald. Kris Theilen expressed the most support.

"I think it's not a bad route to take," he said. "I think the Mayor's doing what he feels that he has to do."

From McCarty's standpoint, the city skipping the bidding process was only a mistake. Putting the contract out to bid. McCarty said, would probably yield the same result and cost the city more time and savings.

"We stand to save half a million dollars a year, based on our analysis and the analysis of Mike Palazollo, just on the NAPA parts room alone," he said.

Houston told council members in a memo dated May 13 that the city's attorney believes the contract is legal and valid, and the city would not be exposed to a lawsuit.

"Well I know our corporation counsel would say 'well anyone can sue,' and you're right anybody can," said Simpson. "But why would we give them any kind of ammunition to sue."

McCarty says now that the city is moving forward with NAPA the consolidated garage should be open in September. Beside the parts room, everything is falling into place, he said. This building should be done in August, and the city finished negotiations with a third union on Wednesday.

Newschannel 20 also reached out to O'Reilly Auto Parts, which had said it had not received due consideration for the contract.

When told about Houston's decision, the district manager said it was a "shady" way of doing things and that any decision on legal action would be at the corporate level.

We also put in seven calls to the mayor's Communications Director Nathan Mihelich, only to be hung up on -- each and every timeMayor Moving Forward With NAPA Deal

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