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VTA quietly withdraws hilarious 33-page bid request for cakes

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    Published Wednesday, January 31, 2007, by the San Jose Mercury News Your tax dollars at work -- buying cakes By Barry Witt Mercury News Silicon Valley s
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2007
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      Published Wednesday, January 31, 2007, by the San Jose Mercury News

      Your tax dollars at work -- buying cakes

      By Barry Witt
      Mercury News

      Silicon Valley's transportation planners haven't figured out how to
      bring BART to San Jose. But they've got buying baked goods down to a
      science.

      With the sort of exacting specifications one might expect for a
      multi-million dollar construction project, the Santa Clara Valley
      Transportation authority in November issued official bid number
      "VTA06-513-P04" <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/files/VTA_cakes.pdf>
      for suppliers to provide -- sheet cakes.

      That's cakes, as in the yummy treats bakeries make for going-away
      parties. The VTA consumes about three dozen a year.

      A good recipe might require a page in a cookbook. VTA issued 33 pages
      of bid instructions.

      The bid rules were demanding, requiring the supplier to offer 11
      cake flavors (including peach); 16 fillings (banana cream, chocolate
      cream, mint cream and vanilla cream, among them); five icings (mmm,
      cream cheese); and six different toppings (don't forget the jimmies!).

      To ensure industrial-grade quality control, the VTA planned to put
      together a five-member tasting panel. If the panel found samples
      to be "stale, rancid, melted, liquefied or otherwise not fit for
      consumption," the offering could be rejected. But the bakery would
      get a second chance to supply something the tasters could stomach.

      To top things off, bidders were required to show they maintained
      liability insurance of $3 million "per occurrence," whatever it is
      that might occur.

      VTA purchasing managers issued the bid forms after Wilson's Jewel
      Bakery in Santa Clara, which won the last contract in the late 1990s,
      shut down last year.

      Alas, despite all the effort, the requisition was canceled by VTA
      General Manager Michael Burns on Wednesday after the Mercury News
      asked about it. It turns out no bakery had bothered to submit a bid
      by the Dec. 7 deadline, and when Burns was told about the newspaper's
      inquiry, he decided to scuttle the whole thing.

      VTA spokeswoman Jayme Kunz said Burns decided "this isn't a critical
      project" for the agency. Kunz said from now on, when VTA needs to eat
      cake, somebody can run to the store and get one.


      Contact Barry Witt at bwitt@... or (408) 920-5703.
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