County tables $1.2 Million Copier Lease award

Imperial County Board
Debbie Way, Purchasing, speaks as Lawrence Van Loan and Charles Fruth look on


EL CENTRO – As the county took up a procurement measure on their agenda that would have awarded a copier lease contract for $1.2 million dollars to Canon Solutions America, Charles Fruth stood up to protest.

His complaint is a familiar one to local venders, no points for being a local business with a brick and mortar store in the Valley when trying to win awards with the county and the Imperial Irrigation District.

Fruth’s business, Digital The Fruth Group, lost to Canon solutions America by one point in the bidding point system, 576 to 575. There was no points allowed for being a local business, and they had bid lower by $250,000.

The IID, after heated complaints, decided to change their procurement bid process by allowing points for local businesses. One of the major stumbling blocks is identifying local businesses and deciding what does constitute a local business versus an out of town business with a local representative.

Councilmen Ryan Kelley, District 4, brought the issue up for favoring local businesses in the procurement process. County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova said the board had broached the issue several years ago and at that time decided against rewarding locals with points.

Chairman Ray Castillo, District 5, advocated forming an ad hoc committee to re-visit local preferences in bids. Ryan Kelley and Jack Terrazas were appointed to the committee.

The award was not given to Canon Solutions America. In the end, the county supervisors decided to table the matter for one week to study the differences in the bid, look into why the Social Services department selection committee had rewarded the Fruth Group with 2 points for references while giving Canon 10 points.

Fruth said when speaking to the board that they had given more references than Canon in their bid, and only two of their six references were called, both giving excellent recommendations.

“There is a bias in this bid process,” Fruth told the board.


  1. Ask yourself how Digital the Fruth group can outbid their competitors by that largeof an amount. In my dealings with this company, my best interests and the best interests of my employer were not high on their priority list. The salesman, supposedly our rep with their company, has never stepped foot in our building since we signed the contract, regardless of numerous requests. The questions we have are contractual

  2. COLAB/Farm Bureau wants the IID to give and local preference and abide by the CA Public Contracts Code…yet the CA Public Contracts Code SPECIFICALLY FORBIDS LOCAL BID PREFERENCE!! Additionally, at least one COLAB member has met repeatedly with IID Board members and staff to “okay” the revisions to the purchasing policy….WTF? How does special interest group rate private meetings with Board members as well as get the power to say yay or nay to an IID policy? They are not elected…how does Joe Ratepayer get invited to these meetings?

    (oh and don’t forget, that after these private meetings, in which the COLAB member gave his blessing (oh thank you Mr. Benevolent massah) that COLAB STILL complained about the process)

    • “How does a special interest group rate private meetings with Board members as well as get the power to say yay or nay to an IID policy”? That’s an easy one Charlie- un structured and un enforced governance policy that allows the hands of elected officials directly into the business operation and public till! Unproductive and costly cronyism is alive and still thriving with this new Board at the further expense to our ratepayers and this poorest of the poor communities. If you think another revision of purchasing policy after less than one year is a joke you won’t even believe what we are about to see over the next 60 days. If it weren’t such a kick in the face to the integrity of public governance and to the ratepayers it would be absolute bend over and hold your heels slap stick comedy!

        • Absolutely correct Deserttrek. The most direct and effective way to deliver continuous and high impact economic benefit to our region and our ratepayers is through the delivery of cost effective services……. “best overall value.” We lose our value as a publicly owned utility when we lose our purpose/focus on the delivery of cost effective services and best overall value and we act as a crony/political employment agency.

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