Veteran Considering Legal Action Against Ector County Over Commissioners Vote

Veteran Considering Legal Action Against Ector County Over Commissioners Vote

By Geena Martinez

NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY - A veteran is threatening legal action against Ector County. He said his aviation company and others were overlooked in their bid to run Schlemeyer Field.

The controversy stems from a vote made by the commissioners back in July. The veteran said he feels favoritism rather than experience was a factor in their decision.

Odessa veteran and businessman Ray Spengler said he just wants to see an unbiased process.

"I've been asked many times 'Why did you go forward with this?' Because that's the right thing to do," Spengler said.

Spengler is talking about his decision to protest a recent vote by the the Ector County commissioners. In July, commissioners awarded a contract to a company called Wildcatter Aviation. Wildcatter got the winning bid to run the day -to-day operations at Schlemeyer Field airport.

Three other companies were also vying for that contract. Spengler's company, Skypark Aviation, was one of them.

On Monday, Spengler and his attorney, Camden Chancellor, addressed commissioners saying those other companies were unfairly overlooked.

"The contract was awarded much earlier than anticipated and in this case we don't believe that they gave fair notice to all parties that it had been awarded," Chancellor said.

Chancellor said one of their biggest concerns about the bidding process surrounded the company's background.

"Wildcatter was not incorporated until the day after the county gave him the contract," Chancellor said. "Essentially they decided to award it to an entity that did not exist."

With 13 years of experience, Skypark Aviation feels there were better choices for the role.

"Many of the other bidders actually have extensive aviation experience," Chancellor said.

Overall, Spengler and his attorney claim commissioners didn't follow several bidding regulations, one of which they say is giving preference to veteran-owned small businesses.

"They didn't interview the candidates," Spengler said. "They basically selected the person they wanted to select."

However, County Judge Susan Redford said there are no grounds for Spengler's appeal.

"What they were asking for us to do was hire this firm because they were pilots and veterans which we respect both but they didn't have a good solid business plan," Redford said.

Redford said they followed their policies and procedures in making the decision.

"We brought in experts in the field to actually evaluate the bids and this is the one they recommended to us, this is the one who made the most financial sense," she said. "It was the most financially sound with the backing that is needed to support this operation."

Redford also told NewsWest 9, Wildcatter's bid best fit the county's needs.

"There's gonna be a really large initial investment in the airport by this group which is what we were really looking for and wanting," she said.

Even so, Spengler said he's not giving up that easily.

"By my attorney's suggestion, there's federal and state issues that have been violated and so we'll go from there as soon as we get the paperwork," Spengler said.

Spengler said their next step will possibly be to file an injunction in state courts.