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City Hallways (June 4) Pt. 2 ambulance contract

Calendar items

No meetings I'm aware of on calendar today.

Mayor's office announced Brown will be in Niagara Square at 10:30 a.m.  to announce a  Food Truck Thursdays in Niagara Square this summer.  It'll be a lunch time sort of thing, from 11 a.m. to 2 pm.
Bon Appetit!


The Big Push (up) 

At 10 a.m. today,  Kevin Warrick will  be inside City Hall trying to do what no man -- or woman - has ever done before him. Within a 24-hour period, Warrick hopes to do more than 46,001 push-ups. If he does, he sets a new Guinness Book of World Records' record. He's going to be available for media questions about a half hour before the pushing starts.


Rural Metro - Part 2.

For weeks we've been hearing the CEO of American Medical Response crying foul about the city's process in selecting an ambulance provider. Now, Fire Commissioner  Garnell Whitfield, who has spent months and months working on a new contract between the city and Rural/Metro,  is  turning the tables, saying AMR is the one that's being unfair.

The rules of the city's bidding process were spelled out clearly, Whitfield said.  And the city's RFP - request for proposals - was very clear. There were even pre-bid conferences.  AMR had a representative at the pre-bid conference, and AMR submitted additional questions to the city via internet, Whitfield said. Yet the company's bid did not address some of the key issues Buffalo requested in the RFP, namely how to offer alternative transportation for calls that must be answered, but do not require the high-level medical care provided by an ambulance, Whitfield said.

The three-member committee reviewed the bid AMR submitted as well bids submitted by  Rural/Metro and one other firm. Rural/Metro's bid was best, Whitfield said.
Fair and square.
The city's bid process did not suggest bidders would be called in for in-person interviews, as AMR said it had been expecting, according to Whitfield.

And while the 3-member committee set up to review the  bid documents --  Whitfield, Corporation Counsel Tim Ball, and Judy Shanley, a top officials with the Erie County Social Services department -- could have opted to call bidders in if the group thought it was necessary, there was no need for it, Whitfield said.

Whitfield made his comments during and after a  meeting the Common Council's finance committee held Wednesday to discuss the ambulance contract the Brown Administration is asking the Council to approve. The contract would give Rural/Metro another five years as the city's exclusive ambulance provider.

After Wednesday's meeting, Lovejoy Councilman Rich Fontana, who chairs the finance committee, indicated the contract probably won't come up for a vote for at least another two or three weeks. It's expected to  be discussed again at the committee's next meeting in about a week and a half.  Then, depending on what the council decides at that meeting, it could come up for a vote the following week.  The council can either approve, reject, or send the contract back tothe  law department for revisions that might require additional negotiations with Rural/Metro.

Wednesday's meeting was the second the council held in the past two days on the issue. It's not clear from those meetings what the council is planning. Tuesday, there were council suggestions for  tougher and more precises language in the contract.  Wednesday, North District Councilman Joe Golombek expressed frustration with calls he's received from  residents complaining about Rural/Metro's service. Golombek said he's not ready at the point to approve the contract. Niagara District Councilman Dave Rivera suggested the council might want to get the contract reviewed by an enhanced ambulance services monitoring committee the city is in the process of creating to monitor contract compliance. Council members  also suggested they might want to see copies of all the original bids that were submitted to the city.

Whitfield said he's get the council the bids. He said he doesn't see any need for  a  full review by the monitoring board, but said if that's what the council wants, it can be arranged. The three-member review committee, he said, has already thoroughly vetted the bids and contract.

One thing that might be occurring, Whitfield added, is that the general public doesn't understand the concept of triage, which Rural/Mero does, with support of the Fire Department, when there's an unexpected surge that challenging the ability of the ambulance company to meet all calls in a timely matter.  Under triage, the most serious life-threatening calls are answered before those that are non life-threatening. Depending on how many calls are being held, wait time for non-emergency calls could take awhile. The life-threatening calls, Whitfield and Rural/Metro officials said, are therefore handled in a timely manner.


Picketing update,  Day 3. - A small group was again outside City Hall Wednesday showing their opposition to mayoral control of city schools, but was even smaller than earlier in the week.  When I looked outside the window at 4:30, I saw just four protesters.

Latest on Pigeon front.  Just because these stories involving Steve Pigeon and his politic antics are so intriguing. Here's today's from Buffalo News political reporter Bob McCarthy on Pigeon's financial woes.


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