The low versus local bid controversy got a little far-fetched Monday night at the Rolla City Council meeting.

The low versus local bid controversy got a little far-fetched Monday night at the Rolla City Council meeting.

Public Works Director Steve Hargis presented bids for street improvements on Maplewood Drive and Cottonwood Drives. The low bid was Rainey & Son Construction LLC, Newburg, with $99,111.25. Donald Maggi Inc., Rolla, bid $100,252.75. Logan Excavating, Vienna, bid $169,176.35.

Hargis recommended approval of a resolution to execute an agreement between the city and the low bidder, who beat the competition by $1,141.50.

The rest of the council was poised to approve the resolution with Rainey & Son, a company Hargis said is currently doing satisfactory work for the city, but Councilman Don Morris balked.

“I’ve just got to say it,” Morris said, urging the council to “go with local people.”

An incredulous Councilman J.D. Williams, who has made his own share of far-fetched statements, said to Morris, “I don’t know where you’re getting the idea” that the Newburg company “isn’t local.”

Morris plunged ahead, pointing out to Williams that the council is the governing body of Rolla, not Newburg, and thus should do business with companies that are in the city, not outside the city, not even in nearby Newburg, not even outside nearby Newburg.

“Don Maggi isn’t inside the city limits,” Williams said.

That brought an end to the discussion and the vote was taken. Morris voted no. All others present voted for the low bidder with a mailing address of Newburg.

Morris is a staunch advocate of doing business with companies inside the city limits of Rolla, even if they aren’t the low bidders, when the bids are close. Such was the case at the June 3 meeting when CSE Enterprises LLC, Rolla, overbid the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant project by $20,200, losing to the low bid of $1,889,800 submitted by Irvinbilt Construction of Chillicothe.

Morris urged going with CSE, pointing out the company pledged that $700,000 of the money would be for payroll for CSE and local subcontractors. That would be money going into the pockets of local people, and Morris indicated a belief that money would be spent in local businesses.

Other councilmen pushed for the low bid, even though it was from an out-of-town company. Mayor Pro Tem Louis Magdits urged accepting the low bid, noting that the council is dealing with tax money and should be frugal with it. Moreover, he said, come budget-writing time, the council will be scrambling to find an extra $20,200.

After a little bit of controversial discussion, the council voted down Morris’s motion to accept the local and higher bid. The council then accepted a motion to accept the lower bid from out-of-town, saving the taxpayers $20,200.

This kind of disagreement surfaces from time to time, and has for years, decades even.

I think the council did the right thing in accepting the lower bid. Saving tax money is a wise choice. Giving tax money to one business who claims that award will “have a considerable impact on our local economy” sounds like an Obama-style economic stimulus package.

In just one month, Councilman Morris encouraged the council to spend an extra $21,341.50. Don Morris has a good heart and I know he believes that would be helpful to the economy, and perhaps it would. So think about this alternative view: If the council spends an extra $21,34.50 every month of the year, it would infuse the local economy with $256,098 annually.

I suggest if the council wants to provide the Rolla economy with a stimulus package, instead of giving the money to CSE, Don Maggi and other local contractors, it should rebate $256,098 to all city taxpayers this year to help them pay their taxes and their light and water bills.

OBAMA SEES DANGER IN EDUCATION: Does President Barack Hussein Obama see Rolla as a divided community because of the way some parents choose to educate their children?

Speaking to 2,000 young people in Belfast, Northern Ireland, this week, Obama said: “If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation.”

Obama was talking to residents of Northern Ireland, a country long divided because the Catholics want to be part of Ireland and the Protestants want to stay part of Great Britain.

But I wonder if while he visited here during a campaign tour in 2008, Obama noticed that Rolla is home to St. Patrick Catholic School and Rolla Lutheran School. I wonder if he thinks that makes us a divided town.

I wonder if he would knock Islamic schools or Buddhist schools or Hindu schools if such schools existed in the world.