Yeah, y’all had BETTER go hide in Clemson…

When I saw this in the paper the other day:

CLEMSON — Drivers in Richland County could see the first road improvement projects funded by a local sales tax completed by year’s end.

Meeting in Clemson for a two-day planning retreat, Richland County Council members seemed eager to get started on six intersection improvement projects outlined by transportation director Rob Perry.

The $15 million in construction could involve enhancements for pedestrians and cyclists at the intersections as well, said Perry and his deputy, Chris Gossett.

“I’m ready,” several members chimed in after Perry asked for an endorsement….

My first thought was, Yeah, Richland County Council, you’d better go hide in Clemson if you want to talk about penny-tax roads

I say that because of what was mentioned in the next paragraph of the story:

First, the county must resolve a protest over the hiring of a project management firm brought by the second-place finisher. Chairman Norman Jackson said he’s hopeful there will be a resolution soon…

I don’t see how there would be a “resolution” unless Council opens the process back up and reconsiders its decision.

Not because it’s what I want them to do. After all, as I said before, ADCO did some work (a brochure) for the group that scored higher in the bidding process, but didn’t get the contract. We’re not doing any work for them now, but I was impressed by the team CECS had assembled. Of course, I haven’t heard presentations from the other groups.

But as I said, don’t go by me. I’m not the problem. The problem is that the penny tax watchdog group is mad at you for not picking CECS. You know, the group that was created in order to assure the public that everything would be on the up-and-up as the billion dollars from the new tax is spent.

And they’ve got a big problem with the very first big decision you made — perhaps the biggest decision you will ever make — with regard to spending the money.

So yeah, I believe I’d want to discuss it out of town, too.

By the way, here’s a copy of the CECS protest. To quote from it:

As you know, the TPAC is a Citizen Advisory Committee. They are not employees of the County, they are citizens chosen for their wide range of expertise, serving in a voluntary capacity. Their mission is to provide advice and transparency to the program. The Selection Committee was a group of Richland County employees – professionals, who were empaneled to evaluate and rank the proposals submitted as a result of the solicitation for the Richland County Transportation Penny Program Development Team. The Selection Committee and scoring will reveal this once it is made public as required by law. Once County Council entered the process, the very problems that the TPAC and Selection Committee were designed to prevent arose, and an inferior, lower ranked, out of state firm was selected. Council ignored and overrode the scoring and results of the Professional Staff comprising the Selection Committee, the established selection criteria, the Small and Local Business Enterprise Ordinances which were designed to favor businesses with a local headquarters, the desires of the TPAC and the overall intent of the Transportation Penny Program as authorized by the voters of Richland County….

Yes, exactly. And here is the relief CECS seeks:

The damage done by Council’s mishandling and deviation from published RFP processes can only be undone by a cancellation of the Notice of Intent to Award to ICA and an award to the top ranked vendor, CECS – the locally headquartered company that offered the most advantage to the County by offering the best combination of quality, cost, local ownership, minority ownership, local participation and employment. Under the applicable protest Ordinances, as Procurement Director, you have the power and the duty to correct these violations of law by re-awarding the contract to CECS.

CECS requests that the notice of intent to award to ICA be stayed, that the County employees make prompt production of all requested public records, that an appropriate Due Process and FOIA complaint public hearing be held in connection with this protest. CECS further asks that all of the decisions and actions that resulted in the notice of intent to award to ICA be reversed, and that the notice of intent to award be issued forthwith to the local Richland County vendor, CECS, which was legitimately chosen by the team of qualified evaluators chosen by the County as the best proposal….

This document has not been filed in court. In accordance with procedure, it has been filed with Rodolfo Callwood, director of procurement with the county. It will be interesting to see what Mr. Callwood does, since the council has spoken…

14 thoughts on “Yeah, y’all had BETTER go hide in Clemson…

  1. Silence

    It’s funny, I got an (unsolicited) letter spammed to me on behalf of “ICA” the allegedly out of state firm that was selected. I’ll forward it to you in an email.

  2. Doug Ross

    The quotes from Jim Manning in The State about the watchdog committee were almost insulting in their condescension.

    Manning said TPAC members “were a little full of themselves” if they thought they had the right to know every detail that went into the decision to hire ICA Engineering as the county’s program development team.

    “They seem to be coming across like they should have everything I have as a council member, and they’re in charge,” Manning said. “I know they don’t want to hear it, but that’s crazy. We don’t empower anybody like that.”

    Read more here:

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Thanks, Doug. I had missed that story over the weekend.

      Jim Manning — the guy who is only on county council because he thought a Democrat, any Democrat, could beat Mike Montgomery, arguably the best member of County Council at the time. The tragedy is, Manning was right — the people of that district WOULD simply vote for the guy with a D after his name over someone who had served them, and the entire county, well.

      But I’ve written about that before

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oops, I always forget. Manning had one other motivation for running, aside from thinking a Democrat should hold the seat — he wanted to see more done to redevelop Decker Boulevard.

        The most memorable thing he’s done toward that goal was to push for high-stakes bingo along the corridor — a plan that failed when the neighbors rose up in protest….

  3. Doug Ross

    Has Mayor Benjamin commented on the selection process? He was the biggest mouthpiece championing all the jobs that would come from the tax. Or I guess as I lawyer, he can claim that he never said the jobs would be held by local residents.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I don’t know that there’s ANYTHING wrong with ICA.

      But there’s plenty wrong with council.

      The beef against ICA is that, supposedly, they’re not local enough. And the idea was supposed to be to spend this money in the community.

      But the real problem is the way the council stiff-armed the advisory group on this. THAT part was outrageous. It’s like they were going out of their way to create a political problem for themselves…

  4. Doug Ross

    How much was spent to hold a Richland County meeting in Clemson? I’d love to see an FOIA request for the expense reports (56.5 cents a mile for each attendee), meals, hotels.

    Maybe we should increase the sales tax by another penny to help fund the boondoggles and junkets for our politicians.

    Doesn’t ANYONE care that they waste our money?

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