CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More on General Services Division's GPS fracas: Turns out the division is a pilot project to test putting GPS tracking devices on state vehicles, with a $4,343 contract with Granger for the devices, and a $1,220 contract with Barrack's Automotive to install them on the 14 vehicles in the GSD fleet.
That occurred in January. Last year, Fleet Management had put out requests for bids for two contracts to install GPS devices on all 6,500-some passenger cars and trucks in the state vehicle fleet, but opted last summer not to award the contracts. (The fact that executive director Clay Chandler left abruptly to take a similar position with Chesapeake Energy was a contributing factor.)
Cue the big meeting last week when GSD employees were called in because one truck's GPS device was missing and presumed stolen, and in other instances, bolts or metal pieces had been installed in what management presumes were efforts to disrupt the GPS signals.
I've since been advised there is some question about whether a GPS device was ever installed on the truck in question, since the paperwork for that particular vehicle apparently can't be found. Protective Services Division Director Randy Mayhew said he could not comment, since the matter is an ongoing investigation by the Capitol police.
As for efforts to disrupt the GPS signals, I was told some GSD employees felt management was harassing them, with constant calls asking why their vehicle is at a particular location.
Administration spokeswoman Diane Holley-Brown said the calls are necessary as part of the initial set-up process for the GPS devices to (and here's a phrase I never imagined writing) calibrate the pings. In other words, they were verifying that the location the GPS device was indicating is in fact correct.
If this is what GPS devices on 14 state vehicles can cause, safe to say we can multiply the uproar by about 500 percent when they're installed on the entire state fleet.
Regarding last week's item about the backlog of state contracts awaiting approval by the attorney general's office, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told me he's authorized signature authority for several deputy AGs to clear up the backlog.
(Under Darrell McGraw, only one person, Dawn Warfield, was authorized to sign contracts.)
Interestingly, Morrisey did not challenge any comments here about his apparent scaling back of the Consumer Protection Division.
Speaking of, I was reminded that one of the first AG employees fired by Morrisey, Derek Walker, is the son of Denise Tucker, who just happened to be McGraw's campaign spokeswoman.
Walker was let go on Jan. 25 and hired by the treasurer's office as a receipts specialist in the Unclaimed Property Division on Jan. 28. Personnel treated it as an interagency transfer, which reportedly irked Morrisey, since that allows Walker to continue to accrue service time for his pension without interruption.
During his tenure, McGraw didn't have a press secretary per se. Fran Hughes generally handled press inquiries as part of her duties as managing deputy attorney general.