On Friday July 13th, 2018, a Dilley police officer fatally shot an area resident armed with a shotgun in the city park at 1:00 am, according to several news reports.
Kens5 reports that two Dilley officers have been placed on administrative leave as the Texas Rangers investigate.
The week began with a July 10th city council meeting that lasted almost three hours, with each agenda item playing as a proxy debate for the relationship between the roles of city council and city administrator.
LNV on the Hot Seat, Council Votes to Advertise for New City Engineer
Emergency Water Well Repair
The major issue before city council was the malfunctioning prison water well, which had been inoperable for three weeks before the meeting took place.
The council was to vote on (1) a resolution to declare an emergency regarding the water well and (2) award a contract to Peerless Equipment for $88,000. An emergency allows the city of Dilley to circumvent the usual bidding process, and award the project to the company of their choice. City administrator Rudy Alvarez, Mayor Mary Ann Obregon, and Rick Garcia of LNV, Inc strongly endorsed Peerless Equipment, the company written into the agenda.
A few of the city councilmen, however, questioned both aspects of the resolution.
•The emergency aspect of the debate went something like this: if the malfunctioning water well was an emergency, why wasn’t the city council notified and an emergency meeting called immediately?
City administrator Rudy Alvarez responded that he had started working on the issue immediately and had been for the past three weeks.
But if it didn’t need to be addressed for three weeks, then some members of the council thought that it did not appear to be an “emergency.” Furthermore, Alvarez’s decision to wait three weeks to call a meeting artificially contributed to the urgency.
•This discussion parlayed into which company to contract to repair the well…
Here are the basics of the two companies:
- Pearsall based
- $88,000 quote, not including $30,000 chemical wash which they did not recommend
- Worked with city of Dilley previously
- Recommended by LNV, Alvarez, and Obregon
- Could start work next day
- Did not visit the site of the incident, based their quote on the assessment provided by Advanced Water Well Technologies
Advanced Water Well Technologies
- San Antonio based
- $167,000 quote, which includes a recommended chemical wash, as well as work they already did for the assessment
- Performed an on-site assessment
- 1 week to start work
Though city engineer LNV, Inc recommended Peerless to do the job, their recommendation was problematic for some on the city council based on the results of the one-year-old $4 million city hall/convention center, a project that went to the lowest bidder.
“What I see is when we go cheap, we get very substandard work,” councilman Sabino Mena said. “An example is here in this building. The ceiling is leaking. The front concrete is cracking. The breakers go off when you turn on the heat or the cold. So I’m concerned we’re going cheap because it’s going to be fast, but I’m afraid we’re going to get the same results.”
Rick Garcia informed the council that LNV didn’t build the city hall/convention center. “The city of Dilley hires the contractor. The contractor works for you,” Garcia explained, in effect deflecting responsibility to the former council that voted to hire STI to build the new city hall.
It’s a claim that understates LNV’s involvement in the construction.
The former council hired STI for the city hall construction based on Rick Garcia’s recommendation at the March 22, 2016 council meeting. Furthermore, on April 12, 2016, the city of Dilley amended LNV’s contract to add Rick Garcia as the Resident Project Inspector to be on site an average of 20 hours per week, personally supervising the city hall/convention center construction.
The full referendum on LNV would come later in the meeting. On the issue of the prison water well, Garcia noted that LNV was not being compensated by the city of Dilley for this advice, and recommended Peerless Equipment for the prison water repair well based on speed and cost.
In the end, the council rejected Garcia’s recommendation by a slim majority.
Councilmen Sabino Mena, Gilbert Eguia, and Joe Garcia motioned and voted to hire Advanced Water Well Technologies for the prison water well repair. Council members Alicia Machado and Everardo “Bebe” Castillo, Jr. voted against the motion.
LNV and the $200,000 bathrooms
The city council was also tasked with considering whether to authorize LNV, Inc. to advertise for bids regarding the new park restrooms.
Rick Garcia of LNV, Inc. explained that they estimate the new Americans with Disabilities Act compliant restrooms would cost $175,000. Garcia emphasized that a company could bid lower, however.
Councilman Joe Garcia read over the plans aloud. “There’s only one toilet and two urinals… And for the women, I see two toilets. 960 square feet… A total of $175,000…”
The estimated total does not include LNV’s $32,000 assessment fee.
The council unanimously tabled the item.
Hiring/Contracting with Another Engineering Company
Councilman Joe Garcia opened by making a motion to advertise for professional engineering services, which could end the city’s relationship with LNV.
Mayor Mary Ann Obregon demanded a discussion and city administrator Rudy Alvarez read a statement to vouch for LNV. When his statement didn’t make an impact on a majority of the council, the mayor erupted.
“All you audience out there, it’s like a feeling that we’re going backwards. I truly believe, and I hope I’m wrong- there’s a hidden agenda. Somewhere. And you better be very careful,” she said. The mayor did not elaborate on her suspicions, nor provide any evidence of any kind. “I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, I’m just saying it out loud.”
The only current contract with LNV is for the bathrooms, but Alvarez and Rick Garcia explained that LNV has been in progress with work on the prison sewage plant, TCEQ issues, permit issues, and other infrastructure problems that have been plaguing the city for years.
Legal counsel was provided by Denise Martinez of Maldonado Law Group, who advised that the council would benefit from a workshop with LNV to fully understand the breadth of the current state of the city’s infrastructure. Councilman Everardo “Bebe” Castillo, Jr. agreed. Nevertheless, the council voted 4-1 to advertise a request for qualifications for city engineering services, with Alicia Machado opposed.
But even after the vote, LNV’s advocates were still working.
After Castillo voted to advertise for a new city engineer, Alvarez asked to clarify his vote.
“Bebe, if you wanted to.. .then you would have to… it doesn’t matter…” Alvarez said.
“Did you vote wrong?” Obregon asked Castillo.
“Did you want to go out for request for qualifications or did you want to have the workshop?” Alvarez asked Castillo.
“I want to have the workshop,” Castillo said.
“But you just voted for RFQ,” responded Alvarez.
“It’s done. It’s over.” Councilwoman Alicia Machado said.
LNV, Inc., Returns
By the end of the day, Friday July 13th, the Texas Rangers were no longer in sight investigating the officer-involved shooting, and the news crews had filed and aired their stories. At 5pm, the city of Dilley posted a notice of a scheduled workshop for the city council:
“Workshop concerning engineering services provided by LNV Engineering, Inc.”
–written by Jose Asuncion.
Jose received an MFA from University of Southern California in 2008, a BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003, and currently lives in Dilley, TX, home of his grandparents.