Baton Rouge City Council Votes No to Allow Its Citizens To Pay Fives Times Less Than They Are Currently Paying

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On July 24, 2013, Baton Rouge City Council members rejected the winning RFP submitted by Cyber Active, Inc. that would have allowed ticketed drivers the option of attending online traffic school at $15 to keep their insurance rates from increasing. For now, says Cyber Active, Inc., to dismiss a ticket in Baton Rouge the citizens will have to pay five times more and can only attend this class in person at Angelwood’s Driving Academy.

According to a July 24, 2013 article in the Times Picayune entitled “Baton Rouge Metro Council Can’t Agree on Online Driving Courses, Doesn’t Approve Contract,” several cities in Louisiana and more than 20 U.S. states allow drivers to attend online traffic school to dismiss a traffic ticket and keep their insurance rates low. Baton Rouge residents are being denied that option, thanks to the recent City Council’s vote. (go to goo.gl/AqN3ht).

On May 3, 2013 City-Attorney Mary Roper and City of Baton Rouge purchasing department issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) inviting companies from all over the United States to bid on offering online traffic school as a low-cost alternative to the classroom traffic school programs currently operating in Baton Rouge. The City Attorney, along with an evaluation committee of several other high-ranking city officials, were responsible for finding the most qualified company to offer online driving school to people who get a ticket in Baton Rouge.

The criterion used to select the most qualified company were: 1. Course price 2. Technological Expertise. Responding companies were required to submit their RFP responses no later than May 3rd, at 2:00 PM, or their responses would be automatically disqualified by the city, as required by Louisiana state statute. These were the fundamental rules of the City’s RFP.

After months of careful consideration, the purchasing department determined that CyberActive Incorporated was the most qualified company, having scored the highest marks of all submitted RFPs in both categories: cost and technological experience. The proposed cost for its online traffic school program was $15 plus the cost of the ticket. The California-based company has also been offering online traffic school for the past 13 years in more than 20 states, including Louisiana. Ms. Roper therefore recommended to the city council that CyberActive be awarded the contract.

However, Donald Luther Jr of Angelwood Driving Academy, appears to have some big connections with some of the city council members. He stood up at the Metro Council Meeting and admitted that CyberActive was “good” but protested the City Attorney’s recommendation, alleging that the program was originally his idea and because CyberActive is not a local company. Apparently, Mr. Luther believes he created the internet and the novel idea of online education.

Not only did Mr. Luther score low marks from the evaluation committee because of his $75 course fee (five times higher than CyberActive’s course fee) and his non-functioning website, but he also submitted his RFP after the May 3rd 2:00PM deadline and was originally disqualified from consideration.

So his statement was akin to him saying I am not tall and I am not a good basketball player but please pick me for your team because I am local.

Despite his turning in his proposal late and having no real reason as to why he should have been selected, Mr. Luther still managed to sway the city council during its July 24th meeting because he is a local businessman – and because none of the other respondents, including CyberActive, were told about the meeting. Mr. Luther also threatened the city with legal action if it awarded the contract to another company. In light of this pressure from Mr. Luther, many City council members turned against the very person they had appointed to oversee the RFP evaluation process – City Attorney Mary Roper.

In fact, Council Member Trae Welch condemned City-Attorney Mary Roper for not giving Angelwood Driving School more consideration, commenting: “Was there any consideration regarding people that are already currently doing this job?"Ms. Roper explained that there was no legal requirement in the RFP for the winning company to be located in Louisiana. Incredibly, CyberActive had stated in its response that it would transfer as much of its business to Louisiana and since it is a national company, the financial on Louisiana would have been more significant than Angelwood’s impact. Ironically, Council Member Welch had helped Mr. Luther bring the “idea” to the City so one can only guess why he was so critical of Ms. Roper.

Ms. Roper went on to say about awarding the contract to the less qualified Angelwood driving school:

“As a public entity, I did not feel – when you’re talking about forty thousand potential violations coming through, and the amount of money being generated – that we could just pick a vendor. I felt that we needed to bring it to the council and put it out for an RFP [in order to find the most qualified company]...”

Only one council member, Mr. Joel Boé, spoke in defense of Ms. Roper and RFP evaluation committee, stating the following during the July 24th meeting:

“As much as I’d like to award this to a local company, just 30 minutes ago we awarded an $8 million contract to a Kansas City company,” referencing a sewer construction project awarded in a public bid. “To reject the RFP, there has to be a reason and, even if we redo the RFP, the outcome may not change.”

When it came time to put the matter to a vote, council members Trae Welch, Chauna Banks-Daniel, Ronnie Edwards, C. Denise Marcell, Buddy Amoroso, Ryan Heck and John Delgado voted against the motion to allow defendants the ability take an online driving school course at a lower cost than attending Mr. Luther’s Angelwood Driving School classroom. As they had no legal or factual basis to reject the RFP, they did so against Louisiana law. Needless to say, their vote suggested that Mr. Luther had favor amongst the city council members.

So the people of Louisiana will have to pay higher fees for their driving school and all the taxpayer money that went into the creation of the RFP and the selection process will go down the tubes, and the City may have to pay to defend against a lawsuit it is likely to lose.

About CyberActive

California-based CyberActive is a leader in online traffic school, driver education, fleet safety, and mature driver course. The company, founded in 2000, specializes in providing online driver safety courses to courts, state governments and private businesses. To date, the company has helped more than two million drivers in more than 20 states learn to drive, erase traffic tickets and lower their insurance rates.

For more information, contact:
Keisha Parris
225-395-9728
keishaparris@gmail.com

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Keisha Parris
CyberActive
(888) 951-3377 225-395-9728
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