Santa Clarita Rejects Protest, New Zealand Company Keeps Stimulus Contract

A Sun Valley company protests after Santa Clarita awards a New Zealand company a contract to install bus monitors using stimulus funds

A Sun Valley company lost again in its bid to get a piece of federal stimulus money after the president of Tezo Systems filed a formal protest over a decision to give the contract to a New Zealand company.

The case involves an $817,000 contract to install TV monitors on 86 Santa Clarita buses that uses American Recovery and Reinvestment Funds. Tezo Systems lost out to a New Zealand company called Connexionz.

“That’s supposed to go to companies like mine, and it’s going to foreign companies,” said company president Maurice Venegas.

The city of Santa Clarita said it went with the best and lowest bid. Connexionz will hire U.S. workers and use American made parts, according to the city.

The decision "saves the taxpayer several hundred thousand dollars," said Jason Crawford, of the City of Santa Clarita.

NBC4 first reported in an exclusive story last month that U.S. stimulus money was going to New Zealand.

Venegas filed a formal protest with the city on March 19. The city rejected his complaint, not on the merits, but on a technicality. The protest must be filed “within five business days of the information "being made public," which was March 8, according to the city.

That was the day the city announced publically on the council agenda that they were recommending Connexionz get the contract. That notice was a week before the official Santa Clarita City Council vote on March 13.

Because Venegas believed the five-day window started from the day the contract was officially awarded, the city said he miscalculated and his protest was “rejected.”

Venegas vows to keep fighting.

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