Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
After more than an hour of intense discussion and questioning, the Irving City Council voted Dec. 13 to pay about $220,000 in unpaid invoices to Dean International, Inc. and renew two contracts with the company.
According to invoices, Company owner David Dean billed the City about $197,000 for work in October, November and December after his contract expired in the fall, but the consultant was told to continue working.
Dean’s consultant and event planning contract with the City expired in September, but City leaders could not decide whether to renew the $1.1 million agreement, and Dean was told to continue working and bill the City without a contract.
City leaders said at the meeting that confusion and mistakes had ignited conflict over Dean’s contract and invoices. eventually leading to a heated debate on all sides.
“Government doesn’t move as quickly as we want it to,” Councilman Gerald Farris said. “We probably should have known better. I should have known better. At this point, we’ve learned something, and it’s not constructive that we all point fingers.”
The City Council voted 7-2 to pay Dean. City Council members Michael Gallaway, Roy Santoscoy, Dennis Webb, Joe Putnam, Rose Cannaday, Farris and Thomas Spink voted in favor. Only Councilmember Brad LaMorgese and Mayor Beth Van Duyne voted against.
Discussion about Dean’s payment elevated when Van Duyne asked Dean for a specific account of the invoice.
“I don’t see a whole lot of specifics on (this invoice),” Van Duyne said. “I’m looking for accomplishments. It’s a tremendous amount of money. I’m asking for three months, what has been accomplished?”
Talk intensified until Councilman Gallaway called for the question, a council procedure that would end discussion and require an immediate vote on the issue. The motion to call for the question failed, however, and questioning continued.
Dean listed a range of meetings, including some in Washington, D.C., and others with Texas Department of Transportation officials, DART representatives and others in preparation of the Annual Transportation Summit.
“Our history is rich and robust together and complete with many, many, many accomplishments,” Dean told the Council.
Dean International, Inc. has worked for the City for about 15 years and has provided services for acquisition and development of water resources and development of transportation and organizing the Transportation Summit.
“I think you should be paid in full,” Cannaday said. “Over the past 15 years, his work has generated over $2 billion in transportation dollars that we weren’t getting before.”
The City Council also voted to extend Dean’s consulting contracts for transportation and water. The transportation contract is about $394,000 and will be paid from the general fund and the water contract, about $63,000, will be paid from the water resource department fund.
Both motions passed 6-3. Van Duyne, Farris and LaMorgese voted against extending both contracts, instead pushing for the City to go out for a request for proposals for the work.
“The competition process is very critical without diminishing or compromising our position in transportation and water,” Farris said.
But Webb said the Council had missed an opportunity and needed to learn a lesson.
“I’ve been confused about a lot of things and I’m not afraid to say it,” Webb said. “This is where all the confusion comes from, and I feel sorry for staff. They get caught in the middle of trying to please everybody and stay out of hot water.
“Like my mom used to say, ‘if you don’t lay the foundation right, the house is going to fall.’ We didn’t lay this foundation right.”