Subtitle...How many bid openings does it take to get just the "right" bid?
Let's face it...the Aug. 8 stormwater informational meeting was merely a "dog and pony" show during an election year.
Over the past several years, the town board has had three (3) separate bid openings for the Grange Hill Road Project; a project that has been promised, but not delivered on.
Supervisor Tyksinski assured everyone at the August 8, 2017 Stormwater Informational Meeting that he feels their pain. Sure he does! How do you explain that the last bid on the Grange Hill Road project was once again rejected on July 12, 2017; eleven days after the July 1 stormwater devastation that left some residents homeless!
But, this time on July 12, 2017, Tyksinski had "a plan"...he received an email from Mr. Spinella with an offer Tyksinski just couldn't refuse!
After assurances from the town attorney and town supervisor that it is proper to "piggyback" on the county bids for the job, town board members voted to go with a yet to be prepared contract with Spinella for about half the price quoted by the lone bidder; a contract that to-date has never appeared before the town board for approval.
By now, I am sure you have read two articles in the Observer Dispatch that pretty much sums up the situation regarding the Spinella contract. The project can't be done that way! It has to go out to bid! Of course, unless Tyksinski comes up with another "plan".
So, no one will probably be surprised when I tell you that another bid for stormwater clean-up, this time “Emergency Response Contract - July 2017 Storm Damage”, was opened; accepted and before the night ended was rejected at the August 9, 2017 town board meeting! Why?
First, they accepted the low bidder which was recommended by Supervisor Tyksinski which is quite unusual that Tyksinski makes that recommendation when his favorite bidder is not the low bid. The vote was unanimous to accept the low bidder.
The board meeting continued with several other pieces of town business being discussed.
Several minutes later, the topic turned to the auditing of the town bills for payment and the town councilmen were questioning the lack of the town supervisor's signature to pay some bills for other emergency work.
I guess the town attorney was scrutinizing the bid sheets while other town business was being discussed because, the town attorney, Herb Cully, started questioning Councilman Paul Miscione regarding the fact that he believed the low bid which was already accepted did not comply with the bid sheet.
I am surprised that a July 24, 2017 bid opening was not scrutinized prior to the low bid being accepted at an August 9, 2017 town board meeting, but apparently it wasn't.
The questioning continued with the highway superintendent being called to the front of the room. For a few minutes, I thought I was sitting in a court gallery watching the proceeding of a court case involving town bidding procedures.
There seemed to be a lot of confusion at the table as to how to proceed; Tyksinski didn't really have much to say.
However, it did appear that the other three bidder's paperwork apparently did meet the town attorney's approval and were in line with the bid specs.
Councilman Messa asked, if the low bidder really didn’t fill out the bid sheets properly, but the other bidders did, why can’t we reject that bid and take the next low bid. The next low bid would have been...you guessed it...Spinella.
After much discussion back and forth, the board decided to reject all the bids because it was determined that the bid specs were “lacking; wanting; and not clear”. I would have guessed that a firm like Barton & Loguidice would have the ability to write a proper bid spec given that the highway superintendent gave them direction, but I guess not. The bid spec which was used for the initial bidding was not available at the town board meeting; only a copy of the new bid specs.
Anyway, the board decided to reject the first bids and go back out to bid again with the new, more concise bid specs. Tyksinski tentatively scheduled an August 24th “special” meeting to vote on the new bid; said meeting will either be in the board room or in Tyksinski's office. I wonder if holding a board meeting in the supervisor's office is in line with the Opening Meetings Law? It always amazes me when Tyksinski and Cully decide to be picky about seeing that town business is conducted in compliance with laws.
The bids were not totally disclosed to the public, but Councilman Miscione was concerned that once again the bids are known to the bidders which could skew the next bidding. Right you are, Councilman Miscione!
How many times do bids have to be requested, rejected and re-bid before no one bids on projects in New Hartford except Mr. Spinella? This is getting to be the normal way bids are conducted in the Town of New Hartford and it is disturbing. Bidding in our town has become a comedy routine, except that it isn’t funny. Just by watching the town supervisor's demeanor as these discussions take place, there is little doubt that there is something going on. What a clusterduck!
Here's the video of that portion of the August 9, 2017 board meeting. You be the judge, if you can follow their reasoning!