Escambia County News Politics

Bid integrity

January 13, 2010

There are four hot topics being discussed around town:

  • Malcolm Thomas and the Brownsville Middle School fiasco
  • Consolidation – what will happen next?
  • Victor Steen case – $10 million lawsuit and the coroner’s inquest
  • Escambia County Commission throwing out Maplewood bids

In our small daily paper, County Administrator Bob McLaughlin minces no words. He believes the Commissioners’ decision to rebid the project–after Road, Inc. told the commissioners privately that he made an $100,000 error in his bid–“ruined the integrity of the sealed bid system.”

I spoke with Comm. Kevin White, who voted with Grover Robinson and Wilson Robertson in favor of Gene Valentino’s motion to rebid the project, on Monday. White said that Road’s Inc. was “walking the halls” before the BOCC meeting last week and that he never met with them.

White went along with the other commissioners because he thought, “They might know something that I didn’t about the bids.” He told me, and later the PNJ, that he plans to bring the bids back up for discussion on Thursday.

In the PNJ, Valentino defended his motion saying that certain actions in the bid process were flawed and “I did not ruin the bid process, in fact we improved the process.”

What was the flaw? After—yes, after—the bids were opened and staff drafted their recommendation to award the project to someone other than Roads, a staff person told Roads that they had no grounds to protest the award. County policy states such communication should be in writing.

Really? That’s a flawed process?

Of course, Comm. Valentino didn’t stop there. He attacked McLaughlin for being insubordinate. Read the article.

There is one more problem. According to County Attorney Alison Rogers, Roads Inc. violated county policy that says when bids are outstanding, the contractors are not allowed to lobby commissioners. Roads, therefore, should not be allowed to be part of the rebid—if the County Commission followed its own rules….

Rules, who needs rules if you are a county commissioner?

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