VTA quietly withdraws hilarious 33-page bid request for cakes
- Published Wednesday, January 31, 2007, by the San Jose Mercury News
Your tax dollars at work -- buying cakes
By Barry Witt
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
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
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.