Despite pleas from a dozen speakers who supported keeping the city’s towing contract with a hometown firm, MPR Auto and Truck Repair, the City Council voted 3 to 1 Monday to give the work to a San Gabriel firm, Dickson Motor Service.
MPR has held the contract since April, 1987, and was one of the seven firms that submitted bids for a new contract in January.
“The city has a chance to keep business in the city,” MPR owner Stephen Tan said. He argued that MPR’s bid was comparable to Dickson’s, if not lower. “I’m not asking for any favoritism. I’m asking for fair treatment.”
Tan and his partner, Fred Balderrama, disputed a complicated bid analysis by city officials who used a point system that ranked Dickson as the best choice and MPR as second. Both men suggested that city officials made mistakes in the bid analysis.
Mayor Barry L. Hatch said that if the city staff made a mistake, “it was a righteous mistake.”
“As far as I’m concerned, there are no errors,” said Warren Funk, manager of the city’s support services.
Councilwomen Betty Couch and Judy Chu, in explaining their votes for Dickson, said they were troubled by the number of complaints about MPR that the city has received.
Balderrama responded that he was proud of his firm’s record. He complained that the council’s rejection of his bid “was purely political.” Balderrama was an unsuccessful candidate in last year’s council election. Tan is a planning commissioner.
Councilman Christopher F. Houseman, on advice from City Atty. Anthony Canzoneri, left before the vote. He later explained that he had a conflict of interest because MPR’s owners have given him political contributions twice since he was elected in 1986.