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Council tables consumer advocate issue

Friday, December 4, 2015 by Tyler Whitson

The day after the story broke that the city had disqualified its sole bidder from being a consumer advocate in the upcoming Austin Energy cost-of-service study due to a violation of its anti-lobbying ordinance, City Council opted not to do – or say – anything specific about the issue on Thursday. “Because the protest process is still pending, we are not going to take action on this item today,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo after Council returned from a closed session on the item. In a Wednesday memo to Mayor Steve Adler and Council, James Scarboro, the city’s purchasing officer, explained that the bidder, Oxford Advisors LLC, has until Dec. 7 to protest the disqualification. “If we get into discussions concerning the specifics of the anti-lobbying violation, at least from my professional opinion, I’m concerned we may get into a legal area where I would think it would be wise for us to consult with our colleagues at the Law Department,” he said before Council, which was acting as the Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee before it went into closed session. Oxford has been disqualified because Electric Utility Commission Chair Michael Osborne initiated an exchange with the company, which the company acknowledged. Scarboro noted in his memo that, if Oxford chooses to protest the disqualification, it could use anything said during Thursday’s Council meeting as material in that protest.

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