Waxahachie sued for bidding process
By 11/23/2006 00:00:00
WAXAHACHIE - Wanting to end what they considered to be a 'good-‘ol boy' system in Waxahachie, Joey Dauben and Thomas Stephens filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ken Halverson in county court Friday against the cities of Waxahachie, Midlothian and the Midlothian-Waxahachie Airport Board.
Dauben, a former The Ellis County Press repor-ter, said he agreed to help Halverson by filing the suit to make sure city officials were held to the highest accountability possible.
'As a citizen of Waxahachie, I have a vested interest in making sure that things are done ethically, responsibly and that those in power are accountable to the rest of ‘We The People,' he said.
'People say this sorta thing happens all the time, but eventually, people are going to have to say ‘this is it, we're not taking it anymore' and then do something about it.'
Halverson, owner of Ken-Do Construction, alleged the City of Waxahachie illegally awarded an $895,972 project to build four box hangers to the Nay Company based in Waxahachie.
He said the bid was awarded to Nay because they were a local company.
'There should be criminal acts against these guys (city officials) because they know what they did was illegal,' Halverson said.
City of Waxahachie officials said they have done nothing wrong and selected a contractor based on which one was most qualified for the job.
'We're not going to roll over,' Waxahachie City Manager Bob Sokoll said.
'We feel what has been done was legal.'
During a 2002 project at the airport, the Nay Company was ultimately selected as the contractor after a price deal could not be reached with the first contractor of choice, according to officials.
The airport board decided to use a design-build process, as allowed under state law, to select a contractor.
'It allows you to develop a relationship with the builder which gives you a better quality and more cost effective product in the long run,' Waxahachie Finance Director Carl Wessels said.
Beck, a nationally renowned construction company, was selected as the most qualified contractor for the 2002 project, but Wessels said the 'airport board could not agree to a price with Beck.'
Since the Nay Company ranked second during the qualification process, they were given a chance to submit a bid, which the airport board later accepted.
Halverson said once the hangers were constructed and all contractor's bills were paid, the 2002 contract should have been closed.
He contended the board should request a new round of qualifications from interested contractors for the latest hanger construction project.
Wessels said since the city had a working relationship with Nay the law allowed them to continue using the local company for the latest construction project.
The lawsuit claimed the Nay Company should be disqualified from bidding because they had previously given a quote on the project and 'helped prepare the solicitation packet.'
Wessels, in an earlier interview, claimed since Nay had been used as a contractor for the 2002 project the city had the right under state law to continue utilizing their services by just asking for a current bid on this year's project.
Two pieces of information were discovered to be missing from the request for proposals city officials said, so they decided to request another round of request for proposals.
Sokoll said the city decided to cancel the contract with Nay from 2002 and request qualifications for contracting companies again.
'We cancelled that particular contract and we started all over again with this same procedure,' Sokoll said.
Halverson claimed the public was lied to, since the contract was never cancelled, but the city was using this request for qualifications process to create a smoke-and-mirrors illusion to continue using the Nay Company as its contractor.
He said he was told the Nay Company had already invested $125,000 in materials to construct the hangers before the bidding process was questioned.
'The only reason they are giving it to the Nays is because they can't get rid of the liability,' Halverson said.
'The city still has $125,000 in liability from the cancelled contract. If the city disqualifies the Nay Company they'll get sued for the $125,000.'
Seven companies responded submitting their qualifications for the current project.
The Nay Company was ranked highest as being the most qualified and Ken-Do company placed last.
The Waxahachie City Council approved the airport board's recommendation to use the Nay Company to build the proposed hangers on Monday night.
Midlothian's City Council must approve the airport board's decision before work could move forward on the project.
It was anticipated Midlothian would address the issue during their next board meeting, Nov. 28.