The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Storch, Williams spotlight failure to bid insurance contracts

Storch and Williams ask why no public bidding of contracts.
Plainfield City Council members Cory Storch and Rebecca Williams once again threw a spotlight on the Robinson-Briggs administration's failure to bid contracts -- this time four insurance-related contract extensions voted on by resolution at last night's Council business meeting.

Under continued questioning by the two Councilors, the Robinson-Briggs administration has shifted its approach. While Corporation Counsel Minchello (then serving as City Solicitor) had blown off the question of public bidding when raised by Storch last month, arguing that Plainfield's ordinance does not square with state law allowing the [much maligned] 'fair and open' process, Minchello took a different tack last night, asserting that the Robinson-Briggs administration would put out RFPs within a month.

(It's tempting to wonder if he had second thoughts after hearing President Obama's inaugural address, where he said 'together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play', see here.)

It seems quite clear that Robinson-Briggs would have been happy to extend the contracts for the full 2013 calendar year except for the continued questions by Storch and Williams. When pressed by Storch last night, Mayor Robinson-Briggs fobbed his question off on her staff. City Administrator Eric Berry, when asked directly by Councilor Williams why there had been no RFPs, replied that the City had no Purchasing Agent at the time 'and other extenuating circumstances'. When pressed on what those 'extenuating circumstances' were, Berry had not answer, and Council President Bridget Rivers quickly gavelled the discussion to an end.

But not without Councilor Mapp interjecting that with regard to resolution R058-13, extending the agreement with Inservco Insurance Services, when that goes to an RFP, the request should require disclosure by respondents of any and all side agreements with insurers (as a way to counter abuse in the awarding of contracts and brokerage services).

The votes on all four resolutions (R055, -056, -057, and -058) went down 6-1, with Councilor Williams casting 'no' votes on each.

With the Mayor running for re-election, I think it's fair to ask whether these extraordinary contract extensions (as well as the delayed designation of a bank depository, which also took place last night) arise from simple incompetence by the Robinson-Briggs administration or whether not addressing these items at the reorganization meeting (as would be customary) is part of a plan by Mayor Robinson-Briggs to deflect attention from procedural irregularities and let the votes take place in meetings which are far less attended to than the annual reorg meeting.

And then, of course, there is the matter of campaign contributions.

Or am I being too cynical?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Like always the administration wishes to award contracts to campaign contributers.

Remington & Vernick is large contributer to the Dems. I am amazed that the City is still awarding large municipal engineering contracts through the RFQ method. This process is mostly utilized for small contracts when timing is critical. Mst of R&V's contracts are not time sensitive. To get on the RFQ list is not difficult. Any good civil engineering company will meet these standards. Once on the RFQ approved list the City will always pick from the list of qualified contractors the ones that have made political contributions to their respective candidates. If you want this political patronage to stop you must do an RFP to choose a suitable firm. Once the RFP's are reviewed the City can request a best and final which even further reduces the list of qualified candidates and basically forces them to reduce the cost even further. Very easy concept to understand. I work for one on the largest engineering firms in the state of NJ and this is how it is done. Why is it so difficult for the City Counsel and the administration to understand this. I believe they do but choose to award via political means and make no bones about it.

Bob said...

We all know Sharon is big on the pay-to-play issue. The reason she wouldn't enter in the the Connolly problem until forced was because Connolly gave her big bucks. Sharon is a shifty snake who is afraid of the light and the people know it and want her out of office.

Anonymous said...


Your comment seems to indicate that you think Connolly is out of Plainfield, I think not, just check out the owners of Hampshire courts on Park Ave., If Connolly is not one of the owners, he certainly taught the owners of that property how to get away with running down a building. They also have a property on South Ave. maybe they pay more attention to that property because it's South Ave. First response is "report them to the City, Inspections dept" why, when they come out they politely overlook the steps pulling away from the bldg, the cracked, spidered glass on the outer door, the hand railing barely holding on, the cracks in the ceilings and walls. I cannot wait for the people that run this City to get booted out. PLAINFIELDERS SPEAK UP AT THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY.