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Inside City Hall: After no-show by former city solicitor, BOE approves $9 million contract

A vigorous protest by Thurman Zollicoffer last week ends with his nonappearance today

Above: In this screenshot from today’s meeting, Comptroller Joan Pratt, City Council President Jack Young and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake dismiss a protest by two representatives of My Office Products at lower left.

Today the battle between two companies for a lucrative office supply contract ended with a proverbial whimper – and the absence of former City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr.

Rudolph’s Office & Computer Supply was handed the $9 million award after a protest by a rival supplier – which had tied up the Board of Estimates for nearly 20 minutes last week – was dismissed by the panel within seconds.

The Brew had written about the dispute, noting that the contract to supply the city with pens and pencils, printer ink and break-room supplies had been held up for weeks under protests by Zollicoffer, the lobbyist for Nashville-based My Office Products.

A former member of the Board of Estimates (who was City Hall’s top lawyer between 1999 and 2004), Zollicoffer had signaled his advocacy on behalf of My Office Products by appearing at the board’s “pre-meeting” sessions.

Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. (Brew file photo)

Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. (Brew file photo)

Attended by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and other top officials, the pre-meeting is the board’s opportunity to review its agenda before the public session starts on Wednesdays.

Today Zollicoffer was not present at the pre-meeting or the public hearing. The board rejected the protest by two Office Products supervisors without an explanation.

Last week Zollicoffer expressed satisfaction when the board deferred the $9 million award. His only disappointment, he quipped, was not winning the contract outright for his client.

A partner at the Whiteford Taylor Preston law firm, Zollicoffer makes a point of highlighting his former position at City Hall. “Served as member and counsel to the Board of Estimates, the body that deliberates all contracts and financial operations for the City,” he notes, among other things, in his profile.

Asked why he didn’t attend today’s hearing, Zollicoffer replied in an email, “I had prior commitment.”

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