Double the Money:

North County Transit District’s smaller contracts

As head of the North County Transit District, Matthew Tucker can award contracts valued at up to $100,000 without going to his board of directors.

In Tucker’s first four months in office, NCTD awarded more than $1.7 million in consulting and “On Call” service contracts to 13 agencies and consultants — only one required board approval.

Two of those involved his former colleagues at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority — where Tucker was Chief Operations Officer.

—One $50,000 contract — not put out for competitive bid — was given to the former Policy and Administrations Manager at Santa Clara.

——Tucker’s response: “She was an individual who had retired and come in to assist.”

—One $100,000 contract was awarded to an international firm whose Business Development Director was Tucker’s boss at that same agency.

——Tucker’s response: It was “a competitively bid contract from a major international firm Hatch Mott McDonald, and you say, ‘do I view that as a conflict of interest?’ No.”

——Tucker added that to imply awarding the contract was a conflict of interest would be “pretty malicious and defamatory.“

Money, Power and TransitExamples of other spending include:

—$10,000 on a national campaign in 2011 to “leverage national media coverage into sustained interest in the North County Transit District’s operations.” The campaign aimed to highlight the “strong leadership and decisive action of NCTD’s Board of Directors & Executive Director Matthew Tucker.”

—$30,108 to Mundle & Associates in January of 2012 to conduct a “mock audit” to prepare for North County’s Triennial Review by the Federal Transit Administration. The review is an important evaluation for agencies that receive federal transportation funds.

Mundle & Associates found several deficiencies. Tucker then asked the board to quintuple the contract to $157,536.

Months later, the FTA conducted its review and found more deficiencies than at any point in the district’s history — including the misuse of more than half a million dollars of federal grant money set-aside for preventative maintenance.

We'll let you know when big things happen.

About Brad Racino

Brad Racino is a reporter, producer and editor at inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, email bradracino@inewsource.org or call (619) 594-3569.