Council Throws Away $250,000 For "A Good Relationship"

Apr 19, 2013

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.

  1. KCB

    I have a feeling that maybe the utilities mgr might get a monetary kick back from the company that “has had a good, longstanding, working relationship with the city”. The fine people of PB REALLY need to pay attention to whats going on in the coming months with EVERYTHING the city mgrs are doing, especially with eight points, the extension of Shelby Rd among other things. Its fixin to get ugly folks…..

  2. Ruthie Carter

    Not on this exact topic, but apropos to the discussion at hand is an article in tonight’s DAR. Menards signed on the dotted line for 8 Points. How long do you all think it will take our so wonderful city council to condemn or blight by hook or by crook the Meeks Lumber Company to try to put them out of business? You know Menards will not like the competition. I’ll betcha somewhere is an “understood” or otherwise unwritten sneaky deal to get rid of Meeks who has been here as long as I can remember, over 50 years anyway, so a fancy new big box store can come in and have no competition on the north end of town. Hummmm…wonder how Home Depot will handle this?

    1. KCB

      Ruthie the city played the blighted card last May to form the tdd, heck they are already playing the eminent domain card now with the Whelan property at the corner of Oak Grove Road. Lawsuits are pending folks, pay attention to what the city is doing out there!!

  3. CAF

    More good old boys in power pulling things behind the backs of the citizens who live, work and pay taxes in Poplar Bluff. We elected these council people to vote for us, not themselves!!!!!!!!

  4. Margie Brannon

    This is really silly. Is the city council running the city or not? We, the people have NO say-so?

  5. G. Wells

    okay here we go …AGAIN. Wake up people and stop this kind rampant BS!