FACTS about Public Roofing Procurement, and Oversight. Copyright 2010 by Robert R. Solomon

Friday, May 11, 2012

"What's HORRIBLY WRONG in Roofing Today"

Dear Friends:

I'm sorry to be away so long, but I've been literally consumed by hundreds of requests, and should have made time for you.  I am sorry, but maybe today we can share some thought.

I'd like to share a very disturbing issue currently within the roofing discipline, how it affects each and every one of you.  We will offset the dark mood with an uplifting post the next time (I promise).  This wiill be left to your interpretation, and as always, you can decide. Fair?

This is one of the biggest TAXPAYER SCAMS I've ever seen.  The topic:

"PROPRIETARY SPECIFICATIONS"

Friends, I will assume most of you do indeed pay taxes, so when I refer to "Taxpayer Money", you should understand that to mean "My/Our/Your Money".  The government doesn't "Own" anything.  We "Own" it.

This is a VICIOUS, and DEEP ROOTED ABUSE OF TAXPAYER FUNDS.  Plain, simple, and to the point.

Well known, and well worn.  It is primarily an "Aggressive sales model" designed to "dupe" Facility Managers, Purchasing Agencies (whom are riddled with fraud and corruption), School Districts (their absolute favorite targets), and generally ALL PUBLIC WORKS.

Rarely, if ever, do they try this scam on a Private owner, because in that scenario, the person who "Owns" the building actually has to pay for it.  In Public works, there is no such person, unless you consider a corrupt purchasing agency a rational and reasonable caretaker of your money.

Let me tell you something I KNOW:  The money may always be traced back to it's source, and whoever "Approved" the expenditure is the "Root Cause". 

Now, let me put away my broad brush, and share what I consider to be a fair option.  Once the person who signed off on it has been notified of this "Closed Specification" favoring only ONE MANUFACTURER, and unnecessarily limiting the specification (normally written by the offending manufacturer), they should have an OPPORTUNITY to change the procurement method.

This may be accomplished in a very civil manner, but most agencies I've dealt with find it "Intrusive", circle the wagons, and here we go.  NEVER have I dealt with a public entity where this was not absolutely the case.  Advising them of a potential liability to the district would be considered a good thing, right?

Please shake that notion out of your head right now, because the exact opposite occurs.  For some ungodly reason, they will fight to the death for something they KNOW is wrong, rather than accept STATE LAW, and follow it.  They are far above any laws, or so they think.

Example:  Some of you may know I was involved in the following Investigative News Report for NEWS 9 in Oklahoma City.  Here is a video of that report, and it will help a great deal if you take a moment to view it:


That's between 3 and 6 MILLION dollars of taxpayer overpayment in Tulsa alone.  Can you just imagine the outrageous sum throughout the State of Oklahoma?  Attorney General, Mr. Scott Pruitt issued a demand letter to Oklahoma State Auditor Mr. Gary Jones.

The demand letter is included in the above report, and all you have to do is click on it.  Click on the rest of the documents as well, because Tremco and the School Districts are caught red handed.

Mr. Jones has done absolutely nothing, and thinks I'm THE ENEMY!!  I'm not the one who manipulated those millions of dollars.  I'm the one who helped EXPOSE IT!!  Bob LaBass is the guy the money can be traced back to, and as he chuckles before the camera, everything he says is FACTUALLY WRONG!

The good people of Oklahoma deserve better.  Much better.

They DEPEND upon everyone simply forgetting, but I will not forget, and will see it to conclusion.

For example:  Flagler County Schools (Florida) fought me for three months, and stuck tight to the side of their "Preferred Vendor".  In this case it was "Siplast".  I quoted the law, and they ignored it.  I explained they only need to add two words "Or Equal", and they'd be fine.  NO, they took the side of the vendor over the taxpayers.

But when I presented discovery of .....let me think of how I want to say this....A rather "Covert" proceeding behind closed doors, the projects were put on hold.  NEVER ONCE did they acknowledge it is wrong to "Exclude Competition".  The head of PURCHASING there by the way, was the one appointed to open the bids.  Uh Huh.

Their procurement now reads: 

http://boardpolicy.flaglerschools.com/index.php?title=721_-_Purchasing_Policies_and_Bidding

The link above will take you to the procurement in it's entirety, but this is a segment illustrating what they ultimately did.  All that aggravation and pain, because they wanted it "Their Way".  But now it appears the district sees it my way.  If not, I welcome their criticism, or criticism from anyone really.

For any other School Districts out there who may accidentally read this, please take note:

721 - Purchasing Policies and Bidding

From FCSB Board Policy

 

Policy 721

The Superintendent or designee shall be responsible for all purchases of materials, equipment, and services from District school funds. Only persons authorized by the Superintendent or School Board rules may make any purchase involving the use of school funds. Unauthorized expenditures shall not be approved by the School Board. The following provisions shall govern purchasing and bidding procedures for materials, equipment, and services:
  1. Authorization to Execute Purchase Orders. The Director of Purchasing or Purchasing Agent(s) shall be authorized to sign purchase orders.
  2. Development of and Adherence to Specifications. Purchases through bids and quotations procedures shall be based upon justification and specifications which are clear, definite, and certain as to character and quality and shall conform to standard specifications for the various classes of supplies, materials, parts, services, or equipment desired. Such specifications shall be conducive to securing the most economical price for the highest quality product which best meets the needs of the educational program. Specifications shall be as open as possible and it shall be made clear in the invitation to bid that use of a trade name does not give exclusive rights to that product. Preferential bidding shall not be permitted. The Superintendent or designee shall be responsible for soliciting the assistance of District staff members who use the products to prepare specifications and to evaluate bids.
  3. Requirements for Competitive Bids. Bids shall be requested from three (3) or more sources for any purchase of materials, equipment, or service exceeding $25,000.00, unless the item is purchased on the basis of an established state contract, through approved on-line procurement, under the provisions of Subsections (12) or (13) herein, or is otherwise exempted from bidding by Florida Statutes or State Board of Education rules. (See Policy 723 for requirements for competitive bidding on materials, services, or service related to Facilities Operations and/or Construction projects.) A particular item or group of similar items which is anticipated to exceed a collective legally permitted total during the fiscal year shall be subject to the bid requirements as described herein.
  4. Standard Bid Procedures
    1. The Purchasing Department shall maintain a list of all potential bidders by category of commodity or service and shall include the names of all persons or firms that requested placement on the list. The Director of Purchasing or designee shall mail or email each request for bids to each person(s) and firm(s) on the list for that particular commodity and may mail or email the request for bids to other known persons or firms that are capable of providing the requested commodity.
    2. The Director of Purchasing may remove the name of any person or firm from the list upon failure to respond to three (3) consecutive requests for bids.
    3. The Superintendent or Director of Purchasing may remove the name of any unqualified or unreliable person or firm from the list. However, the person or firm may apply to the Director of Purchasing for reinstatement to the vendor list after being removed for one (1) year.
    4. Prior to issuance of a purchase order in excess of the threshold provided in 287.017, F.S. for Category Two, the vendor shall execute an affidavit, pursuant to Florida Statutes, certifying that neither the firm nor any or its principals have been convicted for a public entity crime and placed on the convicted vendor list within the previous thirty-six (36) months.
    5. Bid Receipt, Opening, and Tabulation. Sealed bids shall be received in the purchasing office at the time and date designated in the request for bids. All bids shall be opened publicly in the presence of at least one (1) School Board (Director/Administrator). The Purchasing Agent shall read aloud the name of the bidder and the amount and shall make recommendations to the Superintendent who shall make a recommendation to the School Board. The tabulation shall be signed by the Director of Purchasing and School Board employees in attendance. Bids received after the designated time shall not be accepted or considered.
    6. Award of Bids. Each bid shall be awarded on the basis of the lowest and best bid which meets specifications with consideration being given to the specific quality of the product, conformity to the specifications, suitability to school needs, delivery terms and service, local bidder preference and past performance of the vendor. In case of a tie, the recommendation shall be made by the flip of a coin. Samples of products may be requested when practical. The School Board shall reserve the right to reject any or all bids. All Bids submitted to the School Board for approval will be approved for validity by the Director of Purchasing.
    7. Public Inspection of Bids. Bids and quotations shall be made available for public inspection on the posting date and copies may be obtained subsequent to the posting date. The fee for photocopying shall be in accordance with the School Board entitled “Photocopying of Public Records.” Original bids and quotations and the transmittal envelopes shall not be removed from the purchasing office. Bid awards will be posted on the School District Purchasing Department website.
    8. Award to Other Than Low Bidder. Any bid recommendation other than the low bid shall be accompanied by a written statement signed by the Director of Purchasing giving the reasons and justification for such action as provided in Subsection (3) herein. Single or combination items may be considered in determining the recommendation.
    9. Electronic Bidding. Electronic bidding may be utilized when it is determined to be in the best interest of the District. All requirements for advance notification of bid specifications and date and time of bidding shall be met. Each bid shall be awarded on the basis of the lowest and best bid which meets specifications with consideration being given to the specific quality of the product, conformity to the specifications, suitability to school needs, delivery terms and service, and past performance of the vendor. Any bid recommendation other than the low bid shall be accompanied by a written statement signed by the Director of Purchasing giving the reasons and justification for such action. Documentation of the bid process shall be maintained for audit purposes.
    10. Bid Withdrawal. A bidder may withdraw a bid before the designated time for opening bids by submitting a written request to the Director of Purchasing and identifying the reason(s) for the desired bid withdrawal. A bidder shall not be permitted to withdraw a bid for any reason after the designated time for opening bids unless mutually agreed upon by both parties.
If you have any question regarding procurement laws in your state, please write to me at:

RobertRSolomon@aol.com

I will research them for you, but NO public entity should ever give the slightest impression of favoritism, nor shall they limit competition to one manufacturer, or contractor.

Remember, YOU own it, not them.  Roofing is not a "Specialty" item, and numerous manufacturers provide quality materials without having to CHEAT.

Since I've condemned bad behavior, let me praise good behavior.  37 years of experience have taught me the pitfalls of what I still consider to be a noble discipline.

NOTE:  This blogsite does not accept advertising money.  I am retired, and have been for 9 years at age 50.  I do not solicit, nor accept money from anyone for anything.  This includes manufacturers, consultants, distributors, or contractors, and can prove it in a court of law.

Friends, I'm prepared to place my 37 year career upon the honesty, and "Fair Play" of the following manufacturers:

FIRESTONE BUILDING MATERIALS

GAF

CARLISLE-SYNTEC

GAF also makes fine residential products, and perhaps you will consider them for your residence.  They do manufacture (and stand behind) the number 1 selling shingle in the world ("Timberline").

Certainly a number of others will voice "Opinion", but I invite you to research them yourself.  One technique I use is to type in the company's name, followed by the words "School Roofing Scam".  Then I go to YouTube, and do the same thing.  You will see the names Tremco, and Garland quite a bit, but you will not see the manufacturers I've mentioned.  If you do, I want to hear about it.  So do they.

I'm often told to "Keep Quiet", but I'd rather tell you the truth here, than simply "Go Along".  Your TRUST in me may not be compromised.

Frankly, I hope that is one reason you spend time with me here. Many of you from across the globe visit with me, and I am humbled by the mere thought of it. 

As always, I will ask you to reject negativity in all forms, and always remember to keep looking "UP"
(this one is for CTA)

Respect,

Robert R. "Ron" Solomon
Tampa, Florida












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