Thursday, September 20, 2012

After Controversy, AC Transit Picks New Security Firm

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 3:16 PM

The AC Transit Board of Directors reversed itself and ignored a staff recommendation at its regular board meeting this week, awarding a $6.5 million five year security contract to Cypress Private Security of San Francisco after the agency acknowledged it had improperly approved the contract of Securitas USA of Walnut Creek in July.

AC Transit staff had recommended in July that the board award the security contract to Securitas, and a staff member told board members this week that "to my knowledge, there's been no change to that recommendation." At-Large Director Chris Peeples reversed himself on the issue, voting in July to approve the Securitas bid, but voting this week to award the contract to Cypress.

  • Young
The contract renewal with Securitas, which has provided security services for AC Transit for more than a decade, had provoked some controversy because of ties by two AC Transit Board members to the security company. Ward One Director Joe Wallace works as a security guard for Securitas, while At-Large Director Joel Young received more than $6,000 in donations from Securitas and its employees in his unsuccessful campaign this year for the California State Assembly.

Wallace recused himself from both the July vote and this week's vote on the security contract, while Young voted both times to approve the Securitas renewal. Young left Wednesday night's board meeting immediately after adjournment, and Wallace pointedly refused to talk to a reporter following the meeting.

The board member ties to Securitas officially played no part in AC Transit's decision to vacate and revisit the security contract issue. Instead, the board voted to reopen the contract vote after Cypress pointed out, and AC Transit General Manager David Armijo confirmed, that the July 3-1 vote to renew the Securitas contract did not meet the board's threshold of four affirmative votes needed to
take action on any issue.

Board president Elsa Ortiz voted against the Securitas bid at both meetings. She was joined at this week's meeting by Peeples and directors Greg Harper and Jeff Davis in awarding the contract to Cypress. Both Harper and Davis, were absent from the July meeting.Board member Mark Williams voted for Securitas at the July meeting and against the Cypress award this week.

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