THE DECISION IS IN:Yesterday the appeals court issued its opinion. This was a big surprise to us at A.P.E.; our attorney told us that the decision would probably take at least a month. However, in six working days the judges were able to form an opinion.
The Appellate judges reversed Judge Cates' decision. More importantly, they decided that the bid submitted by Signal 26 was an "absolute nullity" due to the ownership issues we blogged about here. Absolute nullity means that the bid should never have been accepted as a responsive bid at the time the bid opened due to those issues. In the judges' opinion, this was such a glaring violation of city ordinance that they didn't even consider the pricing issues we previously blogged about (in our opinion, those pricing issues also make the bid a nullity). We are thankful for the Judges' decision and confident that Judge Cates will follow their guidance when the case returns to his court.
Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods yet. The City of New Orleans has 15 days to appeal the Appellate Court's decision to the State Supreme Court. The city doesn't use its own money to fight losing battles (it uses our tax dollars, naturally) so who knows what it will decide. Also, the Appellate panel stated that the contract should be rebid. Our attorney is already asking the Court to revise that statement. Since the city already deemed A.P.E.'s bid responsive, it should be awarded the bid when the (only) other bidder(s) were non-responsive.
You can read the entire decision online here.
There are also other issues outside of A.P.E.'s purview. Charles Maldonado at The Lens raised a good question on Twitter yesterday as he was breaking the news of the judges' decision, "So what happens when a major, months-old city contract is ruled null and void, anyway?" What happens to all of the money paid to a contractor whose bid was deemed a nullity months later?
Those are big questions. A.P.E. asked those questions to our attorney when we filed our lawsuit and filed for preliminary injunction against the contract award, but the city, seeing no problems, decided to go ahead with the bid award and contract. Now the city can go figure it out. A.P.E. as always will remain focused on providing quality service and products not only to the NOPD but also to all of our other customers, past, current, and future.
Anyway, we would like to thank the loyal members of NOPD who remained our customers the entire time this was happening. In fact, A.P.E. even welcomes back NOPD customers who left, whether they felt they had no choice or not. A.P.E. would also like to thank the manufacturers it represents who remained loyal to throughout this process. Hopefully those who felt pressure to "bend" allegiances due to the improper award of this contract will change their minds (they may even have a legal "out" with which to do so). Finally, there were a few local media persons who came by to listen. Thank you to Charles Maldonado, Travers Mackel, and Meg Gatto.