I like Kathryn Keyes and here’s why.
Keyes is the former communications person at the National Capital Commission and now does the same duties for Rideau Transit Group. Keyes answers her phone and tells you what she can tell you.
It’s business and fun. Keyes knows what I have to do and I know what she has to do. She’s good at what she does. And so we do business. And after, we have a few chuckles because we understand our two roles.
Photo above: Ottawa light-rail construction
When The Bulldog discovered that a $180-million maintenance contract had been awarded to Alstom for 30 years of light-rail maintenance, The pooch’s ears went up. That’s because the city hadn’t released that fact which was obviously of public interest. And that was because sole-sourcing has become an issue at Ottawa City Hall and taxpayers are on the hook for $2.1 billion for a project residents will use.
So Keyes of RTG told me what she could tell me. That company was responsible for awarding the maintenance contract. It went something like this in audio below:
So now we know what RTG says happened. That is a public bidding process was not held but a private tender was.
That’s simple. Easy.
But what one wonders is why the City of Ottawa did not issue a release about the $180 million (certainly of public interest) at the same time that Alstom, which was awarded the contract, went public. In fact, Mayor Jim Watson is quoted in the Alstom release so he knew exactly what was occurring a day or two before the Labour Day long weekend.
Alston did what it is obligated to do. As a publicly traded company, it must release it’s major activities to its shareholders, potential investors, analysts and regulators. This it did in its normal way … by a private newswire service. It’s a place that city reporters never look because city press releases are sent directly to journalists by email.
The Bulldog? Well we got lucky via an eagle-eyed reader who noticed the Alstom release and passed it on to this website.
So the city was pulling a quick one on the media and the public … though for whatever reason is beyond me. Call it the culture of secrecy at city hall. Or fear of sole-sourcing. Or just being scared. Scared perhaps because the city hadn’t done something it should have done … that is, released the awarding of the Alstom contract. It’s a gigantic contract.
The best thing for Watson, communications and city staff to do is keep the public informed. They failed in this regard and they knew the deal was completed because Watson’s quote was in the Alstom release. And they got caught doing it.
My fear, as always, is what I don’t know. How many times does city hall get away with it? I don’t know.
But it didn’t work this time and it further causes journalists not to trust city hall. There is much not to trust if something as silly as this can’t be made public by the municipal government.
Back to The Bulldog’s home page, click here.
To comment on this post, use the reply box at the bottom of this page.
To get the finest in Canadian news and opinion, click here for Bulldog Canadian.
For The Bulldog’s detailed Ottawa 7-Day Forecast and Weather Alerts, click here.