Council Throws Away $250,000 For "A Good Relationship"
Legal Battle Has Been Waged
Update: Here is the petition filed: CSE v City of PB. They will add the citizen’s name to the petition in the coming days. They also hope to have the injunction hearing next week.
At Monday night’s (4/15) meeting, Utilities Manager Bill Bach stood before City Council and said the bids for the EPA-mandated Catalyst/Silencers for the City’s generators had been evaluated and requested the Council disregard the low bid. Bach went on to explain that the second lowest bid was the one he recommended the city accept.
Bach said that the low bidder, CSE Enterprises – a Missouri-based company from Rolla, had designed the access panel 10 foot in the air and could be a safety issue. He reinforced his selection by stating that the second lowest bidder, a Wisconsin-based company, already had a good, longstanding, working relationship with the city. Are you kidding? Any company will be your friend if you give them an extra $250,000 in profit over their competition.
Nick Barrack of CSE Enterprises stood before Council and stated Mr. Bach was not giving them the full story. (Where have I heard that before? Becker Pleads With City Council Not To Trust Bach’s Financials – July 2010) Barrack had already informed Mr. Bach by phone and letter that the drawing was a generic drawing and there would be no additional costs to put the access panel at ground level if that is what the city wanted.
Barrack said that the bid request was for a specific set of specifications at the lowest price. His company, he said, had met all specifications and was the lowest price by a quarter of a million dollars and should be awarded the contract.
The council had to decide: believe Mr. Bach or Mr. Barrack.
Councilman Matthews said that the metal on the second bid was thicker. But Barrack pointed out that if the city had wanted a specific thickness of metal they should have put that in the bid spec.
Matthews asked, “But thicker will last longer, don’t you agree?”
That’s a stupid question. You can’t determine that thicker is better any more than thinner is better. After all, thicker metal is less flexible which creates other consequences. That is for ENGINEERS to calculate, not for COUNCIL MEMBERS to speculate!
This really is a simple problem to solve:
One bid was $735,000
One bid was $983,000
Both bidders say they satisfy the specs
Both bidders have a great reputation
So what did our council do? The council voted 4-3 to award the bid to the Wisconsin-based Fairbanks Morse company and overpay by $250,000.
But the story doesn’t end there.
CSE Enterprises and a local Poplar Bluff Citizen have filed an injunction against the City of Poplar Bluff asking a Judge to stop the contract from being signed. Their lawyer argues that awarding the bid to the second lowest bidder “is an arbitrary, capricious and wrongful abuse of official discretion, lawfully promotes favoritism and collusion” while being “unsupported by an objective factual basis.”
CSE Enterprises is being represented by Scott Robbins of Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins and Yarbro.
I personally am glad CSE Enterprises is pushing back. This city seems to do whatever they want whenever they want. They give extra money to people they “have a good relationship with” and they deny those who aren’t part of their club.
One citizen wrote:
All of us who pay for electric in Poplar Bluff will be affected by this waste and abuse. Electric bills will go up at some time. With the council’s action on Monday, it will be sooner rather than later. When our bills do go up, we can be happy to know the extra amount we pay for the first couple of months is going to somebody’s friend.
I agree, this will affect our energy bill either by a rate increase or an even higher “Purchase Power Adjustment” charge.
Hopefully our city will realize they are wrong rather than dig in and fight this and spend even more money in legal fees in hopes that a judge will side with them.