Friday, October 24, 2014

More Bid-Rigging In The Ballard Administration

If there's been a fair procurement process that has occurred during the Ballard administration, it would come as a surprise to me. With nobody looking over his shoulder, there is little reason to comply with state and local procurement laws. So it comes as no surprise to read in the Indianapolis Star today that the administration put out for bid a contract for HVAC services and included in that bidding requirement that all bidders possess a license to perform heating and cooling repairs in the City of Indianapolis. There were eight companies which submitted bids, and the company awarded a contract was the only bidder that lacked a license to do business in the City of Indianapolis.

The report says the winning contract went to Continental Contracting Services, a company owned by John Simeone, a part-time reserve officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. When questioned by an attorney for one of the losing bidders, the Ballard administration defended its decision, noting that Simeone's employees, if not his company, possessed licenses. Yet a city ordinance and the bid specifications required the business to possess a license as well. After one city attorney said it was okay that the business didn't have a license as long as the employees had one, another city attorney, Toae Kim, acknowledged the contractor had to be licensed but said the City would not terminate the contract. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Code Enforcement backtracked to the City's original position that as long as the employees were licensed the law and bid specifications had been satisfied. The bottom line was that the seven losing bidders which paid the annual licensing fee of $247 lost, while the one bidder which didn't pay the City's annual licensing fee won the lucrative contract.

Simeone told the Star that City officials never asked him to license his business after one of the losing bidders complained. Instead, they assured him he was in compliance with the law. Nonetheless, as the Star went to print with its story, Simeone rushed to finally get his company licensed. I distinctly remember seeing a Board of Public Works meeting a few years ago where the Board stood by a decision to disqualify a bid submitted by a well-known local contracting firm because the bid package omitted a single required supplemental form unrelated to the bid proposal with their original bid that was specified to be completed in the bid specifications, even though the bid the firm submitted was the lowest bid.

Some question whether Simeone should be disqualified from doing business with the City since he's a part-time employee. Not surprisingly, there's nothing in the City's useless ethics code that prevents him from having a contract with the City as long as it's not with the same city agency that employs him. I noticed that Simeone includes testimonies from city employees on his company's website, a practice that I thought government employees were not permitted to do for city contractors. John Hazlett, Director of the Office of Sustainability wrote, "We are very lucky to have CCS on contract for this and other projects. You and your company are truly an example of the seemingly lost art of customer service." Sherry Powell, an assistant administrator for DPW wrote, "I just wanted to pass along this e-mail, where the Woodruff Place neighborhood has complimented Continental Contracting Services for a job well done, in regard to street lights in their neighborhood." She added, "I also wanted to tell you how happy we have been with their service and responsiveness.  They have truly been great to work with and we hope that we are able to continue working with them in the future."


Anonymous said...

I’d like to say that ex-soldier Greg Ballard runs a clean, transparent, open, fair, impartial, and totally law-abiding administration that benefits the Marion County taxpayers.

I’d like to say that.

But I can’t.

Anonymous said...

If anyone in Indy takes off their rose colored glasses and finally sees the corrupt sinkhole this city has become I'd be surprised.

Anonymous said...

The article also displays the brazen, consistent posture of the city's attorneys. Always render an opinion or decision on a matter involving the city that blatantly flaunts the law. They know full well that a first year law student could destroy the legal basis for their decisions. The city gambles, knowing the odds are with the "House", that its opponents don't have the money needed for the attorney fees to fight them.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is actually a pretty nice piece from the Star. Did anyone check to see if any campaign contributions came from Mr. Simeone? We all know Pay-to-Play Greg's tendency to award contractors to folks that just happen to give him a couple thousand bucks.

Anonymous said...

they also have the contract for the fire dept.and he is retired IFD

Anonymous said...

"They know full well that a first year law student could destroy the legal basis for their decisions."

In real law, in real courts, in real states, yes.

"The city gambles, knowing the odds are with the "House", that its opponents don't have the money needed for the attorney fees to fight them."

An Indiana attorney would suck in any other state, because other states practice law; Indiana courts practice power and politics.

Learning to practice in Indiana leaves you unfit for how law is supposed to be practiced.

If you want to be a good lawyer in Indiana, take only the cases that are going to win.

Anonymous said...

On another note, remember how Ballard's incompetent snow removal cost the city millions, last year?

Remember how they didn't buy enough of the good salt and ran out of it shortly into Winter?

Is anyone sticking a microphone into Ballard's face, asking him how things have been fixed for this year?

Will the Democratic leadership at the Statehouse have to embarrass Ballard, again?

Have we given all the City's money to Ballard's friends and not kept what's needed for basic public safety?

If you can't drive to work, to the store, or if you slide into a ditch, the City is failing its most essential mission.

Anonymous said...

Quit crying. The contract was legit.

Anonymous said...

RE: anon 6:27 legit? By whose standards Huey Long?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:29:

I believe the standards were approved by Frank Straub.