Friday, August 25, 2000

Camera delays anger Heimlich

Councilman blames administrative errors

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Councilman Phil Heimlich says two neighborhood groups have been forced to wait months for video surveillance cameras because city officials keep making mistakes.

        He said bids for the cameras — which were approved by City Council in January — have been scrapped twice, first for a clerical error, then for a problem with the way specifications were written.

Third request

        Now, nine months later, the city has sent out a third request for proposals, and the cameras are scheduled to be in place by Oct. 1.

        “This is the opposite of what we call customer service,” Mr. Heimlich said Thursday. “The administration is not getting the job done.”

        The cameras are supposed to be installed over streets in Avondale and East Walnut Hills, where neighborhood groups say they will be used to monitor and counteract drug trafficking and other crimes.

        Mr. Heimlich said the city's first request for proposals was missing one page of requirements, so bidding companies did not meet specifications. The second proposal was written in such a way that bids could not be compared to one another.

        Officials in the city's purchasing department referred calls to Finance Director Tim Riordan, who did not return messages Thursday.

        City Manager John Shirey also could not be reached for comment.

        “We have made a promise to these neighborhoods,” Mr. Heimlich said. “Now the city bureaucracy has caused that promise to be broken.”

        Assistant Safety Director S. Gregory Baker said Thursday he knew nothing about the purchasing problem and that bids are anticipated by next week.

        He said the city operates seven cameras throughout the city.

"Sense of security'

        “Of course they are effective,” he said. “They do give people a sense of security.”

        Tom Jones, a member of Avondale's Public Safety Task Force, said the cameras are also a matter of public safety.

        “They told us we were going to get them in May. Then it was July and August and that passed. Now they are telling us at the end of September,” Mr. Jones said. “We don't have time for all of that red tape.”

        The camera at Burnet and Rockdale avenues will be the second on Burnet, and Mr. Jones said it is part of a campaign to move drug dealers off Burnet.

        He questioned why the city needed new bids and why a contract wasn't maintained with the company that supplied the other cameras.

        “It shouldn't take that much time,” Mr. Jones said. “Do they really want to get rid of crime, or what?”


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