Mobile County Communications District

The Mobile County Communications District operates the county's emergency radio operations network. In 2014, questions were raised about $40 million contract awarded to Harris Corporation. Subsequently, the director and board president were dismissed and retired, respectfully, after an internal investigation determined the contract had been mismanaged. BY LAGNIAPPE STAFF

Mobile County Communications District

911 report details excessive spending, ‘handshake deals’

After months in secrecy, the report from an independent investigation into the Mobile County Communications District has been released to Lagniappe — a six-page document detailing poor management practices, backroom deals and unchecked spending. Though the investigation ended in September 2015, the report wasn’t presented to board members until Feb. 11 and its disclosure came only minutes before the board voted unanimously to terminate the contract of then-director Garry Tanner. Now it appears several items in the report revolved around Tanner’s management and his oversight of a $40 million communications enhancement project awarded to Harris Corporation in 2013. One...

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911 board delays release of independent investigation

The Mobile County Communications District (911 board) will not yet release the results of an independent investigation into a $40 million contract with Harris Communications, delaying a request from Mobile County Commission President Jerry Carl. Following an executive session to discuss it, the board did not vote on the issue. Without elaborating, board member Trey Oliver told members of the media that “legal issues” prevented the board from providing a copy of the independent review panel report to Carl. Oliver indicated the report could be released at a later date. “The board decided we would not release it today,”...

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MCCD director ousted after internal investigation

After two and half years as the director of the Mobile County Communications District, former state senator and county commissioner Gary Tanner was terminated this morning after a unanimous no-confidence vote by the MCCD’s board. Tanner was promoted to director in June of 2013 after 10 years with the MCCD but was let go on Thursday morning after the board privately reviewed the results of an internal investigation conducted last Fall. The findings from that $18,000 investigation have still not been released to the media or the general public, so the exact reasons for the termination are unknown. Tanner...

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County, 911 Board looking to improve ‘lousy’ communication

Attorneys with Mobile County and the Mobile County Communications District (911 Board) are working to untangle an undocumented agreement that has split the cost of regular maintenance for the radio network used by first responders for the last two years. The issue boils down to two radio systems. The first is EDACS, the current radio network used by police, fire and rescue agencies, as well as public works employees with Mobile County and some smaller municipalities in the area. The second is the P25 Phase II radio system currently being constructed by Harris Corp. — a $40 million construction project rife with controversy. Despite being distinct legal entities with independent governing bodies and funding sources, the county and the 911 Board continue to split the cost and responsibility of the existing system. The maintenance on those 11 radio towers is divided, with the 911 Board maintaining three towers in accordance with a $12,000 monthly contract with Hurricane Electronics and the remaining eight taken care of by Mobile County, specifically by the electronics department supervised by Mobile County Engineer Joe Ruffer. Until stepping down last year amid ethical questions, Ruffer was also previously the president of the 911 Board. At roughly the same time as Ruffer’s resignation, a breakdown in communication began between the county and the 911 Board. Today, board member Trey Oliver told Lagniappe, most of the talking is...

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Ruffer reappointment raises questions

If you hired a guy to oversee the construction of your house and just about the time things were about to wrap up you did a little investigating and found out your foreman had overspent by more than 12 percent of the total cost, would you hire him to oversee another project? What if that same foreman had discovered a subcontractor overcharged you, but instead of telling you he came up with a secret repayment plan and continued to use that subcontractor, would you hire him again? That’s pretty much what County Commissioners Connie Hudson and Merceria Ludgood did...

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