Motor Coach Industries Expected to be Sued by Maricopa County Over Sheriff Bus Purchase; County Vague on What Company Did Wrong

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Maricopa County officials can't sue the Sheriff's Office for buying a $465,000 bus without their approval, so now they want to sue the bus company.

Precisely why Motor Coach Industries would be sued over the internal squabble remains unclear.

The county has maintained in this months-long bus battle that Sheriff Arpaio's office bought the vehicle with Jail Enhancement funds, when it should have used a typical county procurement process.

From the bus company's point of view, though, the Sheriff's Office was a customer with cash. For the county to demand a full refund, without so much as a deduction for the depreciation, seems like a raw deal for MCI.

Cari Gerchick, spokeswoman for the county, says text of the lawsuit won't be released until after the Board of Supervisors votes on it at Monday's meeting. She could not provide the legal justification for the expected lawsuit, beyond saying that MCI "should have known" the MCSO had not followed the county's procurement process.

The county has tried -- unsuccessfully -- to negotiate with MCI to get its money back, she says.

Last June, county officials said they wanted the bus deeded over to the state Department of Corrections.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff's Office says it's preparing a lawsuit against the county to force it to accept the purchase and register the bus.

MCI, obviously, is caught in the middle of a catfight. And all it did was sell a bus.

We can't defend the company's business acumen, though -- at 4 p.m. Central Daylight Time, none of the company's top officials at its Illinois headquarters were available to chat about the issue, or even to deliver a "no comment."

One last bit of weirdness: Here's how the county lists this agenda item for Monday's informal meeting:

Authorize Office of General Litigation to file a legal action to determine the legal status of the Motor Coach Industries, Inc. inmate transport vehicle.

What kind of governent bureaucratese is that?

Without knowing in advance what this item is about, you'd never know it meant the county planned to sue the bus company. If the Supervisors want English spoken at their meetings, they first should consider using it better in their agendas.

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