It was pretty bad when the Sheriff leased new patrol vehicles and begged for additional money from the county commission (approx. $55,000.00) for new equipment to outfit the vehicles that she failed to budget for. Once the commission after some debate granted the Sheriff's request the Sheriff purchased the equipment out of state. What is wrong with that? We have two vendors in the City of Decatur that sells the very same equipment. NAFECO (North American Fire Equipment) and Decatur Electronic Communications. NAFECO years ago expanded their business into all public safety equipment, police, fire, ems. Now with the Sheriff updating and switching to a 700 mhz radio system (and you will need a new scanner to monitor at a cost of about $500.00) for nearly four hundred thousand the Sheriff did not choose Decatur Electronic Communications, she chose Sharp Communications in Huntsville. Decatur Electronics is a well established public safety communications company that has installed radio systems and in car computer terminals, cages, push bars, radio consoles, light bars, radio towers etc. for Decatur, Athens PD, Limestone Cullman S.O., Moulton PD., Lawrence County S.O., TVA Security, Huntsville Madison County Jetport, and many other law enforcement and ems and fire agencies too numerous to mention.
It is kind of ironic that at election time the Sheriff and the county commissioners and commission chairman beg the citizens of the county for their support to get them elected, but once elected they seem to take their support elsewhere, in this case county money is going out of county to support an out of county business. I am voted in, now I do as I please. I'll be back in four years singing my need for your support. What you may not know is the state attorney general years ago gave an opinion that Sheriff's can by pass the state bid requirement on purchases when purchases are made by way of the Sheriff's discretionary funds. These two purchases, cars and the new radio system have been made that way, which means the sheriff can buy any where they want, and that does not necessarily mean they are getting the best deal for the taxpayers. That does not mean the sheriff can move money around from the other 21 accounts and place the money in the discretionary funds to bypass the competitive bid process. Didn't the sheriff order the lapel cameras for China? For goodness sakes when is the commission going to wake up from their long hibernation and start asking questions. Didn't Stitcher recently have to rebid a project because of some snag in the bid process. There is a reason the state mandated the competitive bid process and it was not set up to allow people to move money around so that they could circumvent the bid process.
Part of the many reasons the state bid system was developed was to make purchases fair, and to eliminate "kickbacks" and the "scratch the back" system. There is ways the commission can eliminate the perceptions or actions or bypassing the competitive bid process. What we are saying is that if big dollar purchases were done under the state bid system that perception would not raise a brow, and things would be more fair and local vendors would have a chance to conduct business with the county, and maybe county money would stay in the county. Even though the County Commissioners and the Commission Chairman have no control over the Sheriff, they can speak out and ask questions. The commission apparently has NO concern about county money staying in the county. It appears that their attitude is that there is nothing they can do about how the sheriff spends the money of the Sheriff's Office. We know the Sheriff doesn't care and now we know the rest of the story. If we recapped some of the sheriff's other underhanded actions we could go back to the telephone service, cancelling Halsey vendor services because her son-in-law went to work for a competitor as a sales representative.
Last but not least Sharp communications like Three Sisters Bonding are also the only providers for the Smart Start installation and rental in our area. Now the sheriff wants to let a non-competitive bid with Sharp for $400,000.00 using discretionary funds and bypassing the competitive bid process. We will challenge this action with the State. Just set back Morgan County Commission and let someone else do your job. Just remember this when you come up for election......