It never ends, Sewer Bid Contracts again in the News, is City Hall in turmoil once again at the wheel of damage control working feverishly to sort a believable story for the public? Do we now hire our trump card Best, Best & Krieger for Public Relations, or are we just a bit beyond that? With City Councilman Paul Davis up for Mayor Pro Temp coming this week and City Attorney Greg Priamos hiding behind the comforting doors of his office, is City Manager Brad Hudson conveniently leaving the scene of the crime just in time? Is his remaining posse working hard to answer all the abounding questions that remain? And are City Hall employees celebrating Brad Hudson leaving, as they did when Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis left?
Well, the spotlight is now on Riverside Public Works, that would be Tom Boyd’s department. Did his department preferentially award a contract to Camp, Dresser & McKee? A contract according to the standard scoring process should have went to Hill, known as CH2M Hill, of who scored higher. Incidently, CH2M Hill for the third year has been rated Worlds Most Ethical Companies, I understand ethics just doesn’t sit well in Riverside. Regardless, there are two employees at the forefront of the allegations, City Engineer Warren Huang and Sewer Treatment Plant Manager Craig Justice, who stated to Deputy City Attorney Raychele Sterling that they were called into Public Works Director Siobhan Foster’s office, where “they were told that ‘she did not like the results of the scoring,’ and that the scoring needed to be ‘fixed’ so that CDM was selected” because Albert A. Webb Associates was to be a subcontractor on the job, according to the email. Was there creative math occurring in this bid process? Now we have the subcontractor Albert A. Webb and Associates at the forefront of the questionable bid process. Matthew A. Webb, president of Albert A. Webb Associates, has acknowledged a friendship with Hudson, but has said the firm gained work based on merit and that jobs for the city are only a small portion of its business, but twelve payouts on a single day? There lies the questionable appearance of bid splitting, and no one at City Hall has been able to explain it. The following is City Memorandum from last month by Webb requesting a change order for an additional appropiation of $308,495.00. Now the question, what is the purpose of the scoring process when no one follows the rules? Does it then become just a city formality? TMC has asked for a an independent forensic audit, who will answer to a community finance commitee. Or a request by the City Council for State Controller John Chiang, would also be in order.
What does Chief Financial Officer, Paul Sundeen say about this. According to Mary Shelton, who writes the River City Cop Watch Blog, Sundeen believes an independent audit is too expensive and wouldn’t be necessary in his opinion. He claims no bid splitting has ever taken place ever but if it happens, he should be notified to investigate it. We have this bit of info for Paul to investigate thirteen payments in one day. Bid splitting or coincidence? as coincidental as our emails being blocked Paul’s office.
Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse, Rancho Cucamonga based law firm Hudson requested to investigate allegations of favoritism of himself to the tune of $100,000.00, presented their findings. According to Cihigoyenetche’s report, the employees Sterling says told her of favoritism denied making those comments when questioned by an investigator and they did not find that Hudson’s friendships influenced who got contracts or that Hudson pressured anyone to award contracts to someone specific. Good work Cihigoyenetche, Grossberg & Clouse! I’m sure there was also no conflict of interest between the firm and Hudson…..and by the way, did the taxpayer pay your bill alright? Did anybody know that Scott Grossberg performed magic! …and wrote books such as “The Vitruvian Square: A Handbook of Divination Discoveries,” “The Masks of Tarot,” and “Bauta: Betraying the Face of Illusion,” in addition to his oracle/divination cards, “The Deck of Shadows.” But in all fairness, in report notes of the hired law firm requested by the Press Enterprise via the public records request act, Cihigoyenetche’s reports, “To the extent that any public works managers pressured staff to award the contract to the firm with (Hudson’s) alleged friend as a subcontractor, such pressure emanated from a pervasive desire within the city to award contracts to capable local business to stimulate the local economy,” rather than to reward Hudson’s friends. Ahhh, thats it!…it was all about “stimulating the local economy”, that was worth a $100,000.00 of taxpayer money to find out, wouldn’t you say? Or a bit of magic sleight of hand with taxpayer money, now you see it, now you don’t! Further, Deputy City Attorney Raychele Sterling, who was fired last month in May, stated that the employees were badgered and berated with threats of losing their job. In a March 23 email to the City Council, Sterling wrote that public works employees told her they were directed by their superiors to assign projects to a particular firm because its head “is a personal friend of the city manager, and the city manager wants him to receive as many projects as possible.” This at around the same time fired employee Sean Gill, Construction Contracts Administrator for the City, claimed that city officials gave millions in contracts without the contracts going out to bid. The lawsuit also alleges Gill was ordered by Deputy Public Works Director Tom Boyd to sign off on projects that didn’t meet handicap-accessible standards or city requirements, and that Boyd “even instructed Gill not to inspect the work.” The suit claims city officials — with the knowledge of council members — awarded contracts “in an effort to increase their political allies” and ordered work without public bidding, which cost the city more money than necessary. There you go Mr. Sundeen, sounds like something to investigate, also sounds as both Raychele and Sean fall into the whistleblower category.
Last year, June 2010 at City Council, that Dvonne Pitruzello, City Council Candidate Ward 1, requested to see documents in regards to City Manager Brad Hudson’s discretionary fund spending. Since then, numerous questions of indiscretions came to the forefront at City Council Meetings, such as the Connie Leach Contracts and questions of favoritism in contracts awarded to Albert Webb and Assoiciates. Will the City of Riverside experience another mass exodus due to the next erruption of the Toba Caldera? Keep connected with TMC…
UPDATE: 06/29/2011: HUDSON’S RESPONSE TO FORMER DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY RAYCHELE STERLING, “ABSOLUTELY SILLY.” HE MAY BE SAYING THAT BECAUSE HE’S LEAVING, BUT RAYCHELE HAS ONE HELL OF A LAW SUIT AGAINST THE CITY (TAXPAYER) WHICH WILL DEVULGE A BOMBSHELL OF IMPROPRIETIES.