The $200,000 Brewster Hall repair warrant article was passed in March 2012. Four months later, as of July 11, no work had been put out to public bidding. I had been made aware of the situation by a concerned town employee. The Grunter and the Town Manager maintain that they intended all along to put the work out to bid. This page references the timeline and documents that show the town’s intent to go with favored single source providers.
April 6, here’s a memo from the Town Manager informing the Selectmen that Rob Houseman is pursuing replacement windows through the CEO of the NE Pella sales corporation. It’s crystal clear that Rob isn’t looking for help producing bid specifications.
April 23, a memo from Rob Houseman to the Town Manager indicating that:
- Rob has been meeting with Pella and is expecting prices shortly
- Is working with Knight security and is expecting an installation in late summer or early fall.
May 23, quote from Pella for 24 replacement windows installed totaling $49,474. This is a standard price quote that was to be signed and returned for acceptance.
June 18, LindaMurray about bidding from Linda Murray to acting TM Rob Houseman concerning Brewster Hall repair report. Here she says that it is her understanding that the items have been sent out to bid to three suppliers. That is, of course, not the case, and also a misread of the Procurement Policy. Only contract under $10,000 may be handled by selective bidding with three suppliers. When the estimated amount is greater, the work must be posted for public bidding. This memo is coupled with a later memo to the Town Manager instructing him to provide this to me as part of my outstanding Right to Know request. She seems to want to make sure that I know that she was unaware that the Town Manager had not been following the Town’s Procurement Policy.
July 12, the day after I laid out the case at the BOS meeting, Rob Houseman initiated action to produce specifications for public bidding on the alarm, carpeting, and windows. For the window specifications he provided the Pella quote to NCA Architects and asked them to turn it into a bid specification. You can see that here NCA Pella specs. So when the Grunter editorial says:
We think the assumption that the bids will be specifications only Pella could meet is unwarranted.
Maybe they should take a look at these documents and tell us why they think that.
I’m not saying that the Board of Selectmen was complicit in this action. The evidence is that the Town Manager bears all of the responsibility. Ironically, he is the only party involved who’s job it is to know better.
Typical politician, Ms. Murray makes sure to have “clean hands” with regard to the issue when you did such an admirable job and pinned Town Manager into the corner and shined the spotlight on his conduct! Sometimes the BOS micromanages but you’d think in the interest of making sure our employee, Owen, follows policy that someone from the five would have asked why we were dealing with single source, i.e. Pella, rather than open bidding. But I guess if you have tunnel vision to support the Friends, getting the job done allows you to throw protocol out the window. As I often say, local, state and federal pols are cut from the same bolt of cloth!!!
The problem with “to bid or not to bid” has been going on for some time…and they ALL know it
and know no one cares so they get away with it. I wrote an artile for the WCTA “selective bid
practice” regarding several issues..again no one cared…Then when in 2011 when I could see
that realestate leases were not going out to bid…I questioned the problem, and Mr O assured
me that they have a bid policy..later to learn it was for the purchase of goods and services.
So, in 2011 I advanced a bid policy Warrant Article # 33 for SEALED PUBLIC ADVERTIZED
BIDS…and based on Mr O words, I struck the goods and services wording at the deliberative
in good faith. And with little to no support at the deliberative and the strident voice of Mr John
White he stated that without the amendment it “”ties” the BOS hands and he doesn’t feel that
everything should be put out to bid (which if he read and understood the “policy” he would know
there is a threshold and exceptions,,however) AND allow the BOS to use their best judgement…
So,,the word Direct got changed to “advise”…Thanks Mr White..
In any case,,this has been a well vetted subject off and on…and a dead end…they will do what they
do and have done back as far as 2009 that I can attest to…if you go thru random purchase orders
you will see notes and the practice of from varrious Department heads such as…
-Contract bid out years ago
-Company does good work
–Company has had no increases
And the like..which ends with a written recommend of continuing contract…
PO’s go to Fin Director, TM and BOS sign the manifest which has PO”S avalible…
This can be documented..but takes mountains of work