...in 2005, amid a federal push to avoid another communications nightmare like the one blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, deaths of 125 New York firefighters at the collapsed World Trade Center, Rupf and Plummer joined forces. They set their sights on a new digital two-way radio system so that all of their first responders could talk to each other.
There was, however, a catch.
A notice circulated by Alameda County to gauge vendors’ interest in the project said that the first $5.7 million phase must include a master controller made by Motorola Inc., and the equipment must connect with the county’s aged, proprietary Motorola SmartNet II system.
In other words, “it was already a done deal. . . . Nobody else could make their equipment compatible with soon-to-be-obsolete Motorola equipment” – nobody except Motorola, said Steve Overacker, who was Contra Costa County’s telecommunications manager at the time.
Any appearance that there would be a fair, competitive bidding process “was a ruse,” he said in a phone interview.