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,” Oliver said. “Our attorney [Jeffery Hartley] has taken the request under review.”
Carl said it’s important the report be made public because the money used for the deal was provided by taxpayers.
“Public money paid for it,” Carl said. “I don’t know why the public can’t see it.”
He said he understands he has no authority over the board’s operations, but said some county money and county employees were used as part of the contract.
A verbal request to see the report had previously been made by county attorney Jay Ross, Carl said, but also was denied. This most recent, second request was made in writing. Carl said he wasn’t going to give up on seeing the report.
“I’ll get a copy of it,” Carl said. “It’s just a matter of when.”
As for the progress made since issues with the contract came to light, Oliver said the board, through negotiations and three separate audits, was able to shave about $5 million off of the $40 million project.
“I’m satisfied with where we are now,” Oliver said. “I’m very satisfied with the results.”
Board member and Mobile Public Safety Director Rich Landolt said he had met with Harris representatives and they agreed to upgrade the software of the county’s current radios for free, as well as provide free training on the new system. Landolt said he was hoping Harris would also provide any new radios the district might need at a discount, but so far they have balked at that suggestion, he said.
At the meeting in February, the board terminated the contract of MCCD Director Gary Tanner, following a unanimous vote of no confidence.
Oliver, who is chairman of the board’s personnel committee, said they are already looking for replacements for the former state representative and Mobile County commissioner. Oliver said three separate panels of board members would review the roughly 16 applications sent in from “three or four” different states. One panel would narrow the search to a top 10, while another would narrow it to a top three. The entire board would then vote on one of the top three candidates, Oliver said.
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