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?

  • Jacqueline Rogers January 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I’ve posted this sentiment elsewhere but it bears repeating. Bob Mac and integrity always crack me up when used in the same sentence.

    Check out the video of the May 18,2006 BCC meeting. This video shows Bob McLaughlin admitting to calling up Roads Inc. and helping them change their Development Review application for the clay pit to make it sound more like the project that Roads Inc. had originally represented (haha…a catfish pond). It shows Whitehead defending McLaughlin helping Rawson make his application more acceptable. They implied it is done all the time.

    Check out the minutes for that meeting. Someone was helping Roads Inc. avoid permitting their clay pit. Look at all the cross outs (and the words they replaced!)
    See: http://www.escambiaclerk.com/myimages/77912411.pdf
    Page 2 was the original application and page 3 was the amended application a day later that Bob Mac admitted to doing.

    While I actually agree with Bob now, I just wonder when he had a change of heart about helping out Roads Inc.

    Bid integrity?… talking to Purchasing agents during the bidding process…lobbying Commissioners to change the bid… cost overruns … what a mess!
    Whoever replaces McL better be ready to be serious about cleaning things up.

  • Jason Clark January 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Ha ha! Good one Chip. Can you imagine Valentino as the NFL Commissioner? The playoffs would last 9 months with all the re-dos and do-overs.

  • chip chism January 13, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Perhaps the Green Bay Packers should submit a request to replay the game. The quarterback accidentally dropped the ball and it is unfair to allow a minor mistake to determine the outcome of a game….

  • Richard Hawkins January 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Wait until my students find out about this. I found lots of errors in the final exams last semester and some of them are going to demand a do over.

  • Jason Clark January 13, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I said it yesterday, I’ll say it today and I’ll say it tomorrow…this re-bid is a BAD idea. I can understand that Robinson thinks that saving money is important, but the long term damage done to the process is going to cost us FAR more than $100,000 when all is said and done. The commissioners need to rescind their vote and go ahead with the bids that were turned in. If Roads loses a million bucks because they made a mistake, well, that’s a million dollars worth of incentive to NOT SCREW UP next time.

    Call your commissioner and remind them that they work for us, not for Roads Inc. Let them know that changing the rules to favor one player is unacceptable.

    http://www.co.escambia.fl.us/CountyCommissioners/