News Politics

Valentino/Roads remix (updated)

January 19, 2010

So here is what we have with the Maplewoods drainage project:

1. Bids are open Nov. 18. Gulf Equipment is the low bidder at $1,768,621. Purchasing Department prepares recommendation for Gulf to be awarded the contract.

2. Commissioner Gene Valentino holds a 45-minute meeting with Cody Rawson and other Roads Inc. officials in his office on Nov. 24. Valentino first tells PNJ that the meeting was to ask Rawson for campaign support. He later retracts that, but doesn’t tell the PNJ what he discussed in the meeting. He earlier said that it wasn’t the Maplewoods project.

Update – In a viewpoint in the daily newspaper, Comm. Valentino is now saying that Roads did try to talk about the project but he stopped them – he “was not aware that Roads Inc. was in a bid process and had a problem.”

3. Meanwhile Roads Inc. officials contact Commissioners Wilson Robertson, Kevin White and Grover Robinson claiming that they made a mistake on their bid and could save the county $100,000 if the project was rebid.

4. On Jan. 7, Commissioner Valentino makes a motion to rebid the project based on errors made by staff. Robertson, White and Robinson vote in favor of the motion over the objections of County Administrator Bob McLaughlin and staff. The only error that Valentino seems to be referring to is an unnamed staff member telling Roads that they couldn’t protest their own bid….which is true because, according to the general terms and conditions of the solicitation, mistakes are the responsibility of the vendor.

5. On Jan. 14, Commissioner Kevin White makes a motion to reconsider the rebid. The BCC votes to award contract to Gulf Equipment. White, Robertson and Robinson apologize and say they can find no fault with the bid process or staff. Valentino blames staff and the process.

Update: In his PNJ viewpoint, Valentino writes that he consulted with staff and: “They informed me that there was in fact a ‘breach in the process of the bid and that the process was flawed.'” The commissioner doesn’t tell us what the breach was and why it was of such a magnitude to warrant throwing out the low bid.

As I move around town, few people are buying Valentino’s explanations for his motion to rebid – which clearly had no grounds – and for his meeting with Roads, Inc.

There are two trains of thought. Either Valentino made a deal with Roads to rebid the contract in exchange for campaign support or Valentino made the motion because he thought it win support of Roads and other local contractors later. If the first possibility is true, the Valentino broke the law….but that is a big “if.” If the second possibility is true, then Valentino’s political strategy backfired as local contractors rallied behind Gulf Equipment and the sealed bid process.

The only people who know what happened at the Nov. 24 meeting in Comm. Valentino’s office are Valentino and Cody Rawson. Rawson isn’t talking to the media, but he might talk to the State Attorney if questioned.

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  • Bill Dodson January 20, 2010 at 10:38 am

    How about the hunting trip? We know that Whitehead and Touart went hunting and played golf togather. We know that Touart and Rawson went hunting in Mexico togather. That don’t really mean anything, Just good friends. YA!

  • Jacqueline Rogers January 20, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Supposed ties? Roads Inc. hosted a cocktail fundraiser for Whitehead’s campaign while they were also suing the county(and when Commissioners were not supposed to be talking to that company while under litigation.) He made statements in several BCC meetings that gave Roads Inc. the game plan for suing the county and he tried to run interference the whole time to keep the catfish clay pit going for two years. Watch the May 18, 2006 BCC video. Supposed??!!
    What’s your point? He didn’t get prosecuted so he is much better? I think that Touart is using that as a campaign motto now, too.

  • B Abrams January 19, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Caught a portion of the noon WEARTV 3 news mentioning something about Valentino now being under investigation.

  • B Abrams January 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Whom makes up the “COTW”??
    And don’t you mean award the project to Gulf Equip. ?
    Either way, the COTW “votes” have no binding.

  • Rick Outzen January 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Technically the vote was that the Committee of the Whole bring forward to the regular BCC meeting a reconsideration of the earlier re-bid vote and a motion to award the project to Maplewood…not exactly a straw vote. The final vote is Jan. 21.

  • B Abrams January 19, 2010 at 10:09 am

    #5 is wrong. The BOCC did a straw vote on the 14th to do all that. The real vote is this Thursday at the regular BOCC meeting.