Monday, September 8, 2014

Condon considering 'viability' of restarting ambulance bid process

Posted By on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Mayor David Condon says he's still considering whether he'll call for a do-over of a recent bid process for ambulance service in the city of Spokane. The process drew controversy last month when some city councilmembers accused the fire department of crafting a request for bids that favored the current ambulance provider, American Medical Response (AMR).

Condon said today that he has scheduled meetings this week to discuss the "viability" of a new bid process. His spokesman, Brian Coddington, says those meetings will be with other members of the administration, but that because the bid process is ongoing, the administration cannot talk directly with AMR.

As we reported late last month, AMR was the only company to respond to the city fire department's recent request for ambulance service bids. After the process was closed, Falck, another major provider, complained that the language in the request for bids had excluded them. Council President Ben Stuckart sent Condon a letter requesting that the language in the request for bids be rewritten and the process done over. While this process is overseen by the administration (led by the fire and purchasing departments), the city council has the ultimate say on whether or not to approve a contract with AMR. So, theoretically, if the mayor's administration doesn't restart the process, the council could reject a new contract until the process was done over.

Meanwhile, AMR is taking to the public sphere to try to make its argument against a new bid process. The company took out a nearly full-page ad (see right) in the Spokesman Review last week to argue there is no need for a do-over. The ad copy argues that a new bid process would give an unfair advantage to competitors (presumably because AMR's bid is now public record, meaning another company could see their bid and undercut them). The ad also points out a few of the key arguments made by AMR and fire department representatives and represented in our story: that the "in the United States" requirement about which Falck is complaining is critical for providing high-quality care to the city and that Falck had the chance before bids were due to raise its objections to that requirement and didn't.

"AMR submitted a bid and participated in the transparent process that the City designed and managed. We were the only bidder," the ad reads. "Now, special interests and non-bidders would like to shift the rules of the playing field on behalf of a foreign company that didn't participate at all."

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Heidi Groover

Heidi Groover is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers city government and drug policy. On the job, she's spent time with prostitutes, "street kids," marriage equality advocates and the family of a 16-year-old organ donor...