Freeholders asking for rebid on Vine St. School

Yet more ugly questions arise from the Vine Street School renovation. It seems that a county employee took it upon themselves to approach the favored architectural firm and asked them to rebid, which was done.

Cumberland County sent letters Friday to the three architectural firms vying to design the Vine Street School project, asking them to reconsider their asking prices.

The request, legal if unusual, is part of a series of steps the county is taking to reach an award decision with minimum controversy, as well as minimum cost.

“We very well may re-bid,” Freeholder Director Louis Magazzu said. “There may be some other options in the mix, as well.”
Lammey Giorgio principal Tony Giorgio said at the meeting that, at the request of county staff, he had redone the firm’s first estimate of $619,500.

Giorgio shaved $43,500, dropping the bid to $576,000. “What we did obviously is trim some of our time,” he said Friday.

Magazzu said freeholders didn’t know Lammey Giorgio had been asked to retool its bid. He told staff at the end of the meeting to contact all three firms and ask them to consider reductions.

Nelson Thompson, the Freeholder with ties to Camden County through his union activities is strongly in support of Lammey Giorgio. So the question is, did Lou really know nothing about that request to the one firm? If not, who made it, and will they be disciplined for creating preferential treatment for the favored firm?

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12 Responses to Freeholders asking for rebid on Vine St. School

  1. Calhoun says:

    “Magazzu said freeholders didn’t know Lammey Giorgio had been asked to retool its bid.” Yeah, right. Lammey was just a doofus for admitting it during the freeholders meeting. If someone did do as Mr. Giorgio stated, they’re interfering with the bid process,and there should be an inquiry.

  2. I was not there but what I have read and was told the director was out of line in his comments.This bidding process should be upheld.How can that be fair.Also Lou should not be able to have anything to do with this project no way shape or form.When I and Art had our radio show Lou had an axe to grind with us for telling the truth and he could not bully us.So at that Freeholders meeting he showed the public that he would get back at us by his comments and action towards disqualifying TJD Architects.This is one example in this county how you are treated if you are a Republican,and if you disagree with him.Let’s see how the rest of the board will handle this horrible situation.I should also say that the owner of TJD is Art”s son Tom.

  3. GoGoCumCo says:

    The request for lower bids doesn’t bother me so much, at least everyone is being given the same opportunity to submit them. But the residents of the county should once again be embarrassed by the attitude and comments spouted by their democratically elected freehold director.

  4. WuLi says:

    GoGo – I think that is the point we are all seeing – it is not the fact that lower bids were requested, that can only benefit all of the taxpayers.

    The upsetting thing is that one, and only one company was asked to lower their bid.

    Alex makes the point that the lowest bidder is a Republican, and suggests that partisan preferences are dictating the winner of the proposal rather than the lowest bid by the most qualified entity.

    Having watched Lou from the sidelines for years, I am inclined to believe that partisanship plays more of a factor in who gets what job than any other factor.

  5. Calhoun says:

    I mislabeled William Lammey as a doofus. Sorry about that. The other Lammey Giorgio principal, Tony Giorgio, was the one who stated at the meeting that the County had asked him to shave some off of the firm’s orginal bid. As Carl points out, the problem here is that only Lammey Giorgio was asked to reduce its bid. This certainly makes it look as though the County is going out of its way to hire Lammey Giorgio. Freeholder Jannarone has certainly been talking up the firm every chance she gets, the fit between the firm and project being “like a glove” in her view.

    Now why would the Cumberland County Freeholder Board be bending over backwards to hire this out of county firm? Well, by my quick tally, Anthony Giorgio, William Lammey and their firm combined have contributed over $40,000 dollars to the Camden County Democratic Committee (not to mention plenty of other donations to other Dem causes).

    Pay-to-play is alive and well my friends. It has just gotten more complicated. See, you pay in one county and then play in another. Money eventually makes its way into the county in which the playing is being done, but through a separate party. So Lammey Giorgio is a big contributor to the Camden County Democratic Committee. The Camden County Democratic Committee, meanwhile, is a big contributor to the Cumberland County Democratic Organization (such as a $12,500 contribution in 2008), as are other campaigns from that area, such as Lou Greenwald and Joe Roberts (now replaced by Donald Norcross), who each coughed up $37,000 for Cumberland County’s Dems last year.

    All of this makes the 22 October 2009 “Super George Flys [sic] to Magazzu’s Rescue” post on the Save Jersey Blog” all too prescient. There’s much more here than Jannarone’s “fits like a glove” explanation.

  6. Calhoun says:

    The apparent preference for Lammey Giorgio, despite its wildly higher bid gives strong credence to the assertion that Camden County power brokers (L-G is a big contiutor to the cause) are becoming more firmly established in Cumberland County. Connected with this must be erosion of power once held before the Camden County inlfuence came in. And perhaps this is exemplified by the way KBA has been treated. KBA is tied to Edward Salmon both professionally (KBA and Salmon Ventures work together) and through family relationships between Salmon and Burnley of KBA. And Edward Salmon has been a major political contributor for Democratic campaigns and committees throughout southern New Jersey. However, Lou questioned the quality of KBA’s work on a job in Gloucester Co. and county officials did not ask KBA (or the other firm) to revise its bid, leading Burnley to criticize the process.

  7. G.R.I.P. says:

    seems like the questions asked by the freeholders were provided by L-G, making them look better. why hasnt the ‘real’ news picked up on the 40K in donations from L-G??

  8. Deep Throat says:

    EVeryone keeps refering to the proposals asbids. They are RFP’s (requests for proposals). Professional contracts are not hard money bids like a building contractor. The propsals or quotes are negotable.
    However, Lou has stormed out of rooms where professionals have appeared that refused to contribute to his campaigns. Any professional who dares even to use a firm to help on a bid will be black listed by Lou if that sub contracting professional did not pay up.

  9. WuLi says:

    Deep Throat – what is your take on Lou dissing Ed Salmon, and do you think there is any truth to the rumors that salmon has been working behind the scenes trying to get Lou ousted?

  10. Deep Throat says:

    WuLi, Magazzu has,as you say dissed Ed Salmon repeatedly in the past.
    Salmon’s sonin law was the original engineering firm on the county space study. It was being funded 100% by the CCIA. Magazzu was determined that Burnley (Salmon’s son-in-law)not continue on the project. He blocked the project. Burnley was finally pulled from any future work on the project. The county taxpayers had to fund the balance of the study.
    It was in the neighborhood of $160,000.00 if memory serves me right. Salmon will continue to kiss Magazzu’s ass. He personally went to a number of professional firms on Magazzu’s behalf for contributions for freeholder campaigns. He made it clear that if they did not “contribute” that they would not be considered for professional contracts.
    Having Salmon be the bag guy;gave Magazzu deniability. Salmon is notorious for doing anything for a buck. He may complain, but he will continue to play the “game”.
    Magazzu allowed Salmon to think he would get prime contracts during the election season. The minute Magazzu won. Salmon was not needed. They will kiss up soon.
    As to Salmon working to oust Magazzu. He will not seriously work to oust Magazzu. He only puts efforts in projects he lines his pockets from.

  11. Calhoun says:

    As always, a good post from DeepThroat. Still, I wonder, if Salmon concluded that Lou’s new-found allies to the north were preventing him and his cronies from getting contracts and making money, if he wouldn’t work to oust Magazzu. Nonetheless, Salmon is getting on in years (he’s in his late sixties) and I wonder how much longer he will continue to be a major (now) behind-the-scenes player.

    I think some background on Salmon is in order. Salmon has been one hell of a piece of work, and his nicknames “Fast Eddie” and “The Fish” are well-deserved. As DeepThroat noted, he is notorious for doing anything for a buck. He is also known for being exceptionally cheap. More than one elected official has told me that Salmon’s advice to them when they became elected was to make sure to not pay for anything. During his brief stint as Millville’s Mayor in the 1970s, he was known for spending every cent in his discretionary account. (Amazingly, some of Salmon’s campaign ads back then actually had him running for mayor – a largely ceremonial title in the commission form of government.)

    Besides being Millville’s mayor, Salmon also had stints as Cumberland County freeholder, and state assemblyman. All the while, he retained his phys ed teaching position at Millville Senior High School. This would occasionally become a campaign issue, as he was frequently not at the school (I think it’s called truancy when students do it). Fast Eddie kept a log of his hours and it involved a lot of evenings. Salmon also found time to get a Ph.D. in education from the University of Delaware (his dissertation was “Public School Finance Reform in New Jersey” – and I am still waiting for that reform!).

    Salmon twice failed to get elected state senator (losing to Hurley and Cafiero), and after his second defeat he got appointed to the BPU (I guess being a gym coach with a long distance Ph.D. in education makes you qualified; oh yeah, and before all you Republicans have a good laugh at my joke remember your guy Asselta now parks his ass at this BPU plum, and he is no more qualified than Salmon was), where he would eventually become president, get wrung up on ethics charges, some of which he beat in court, and some of which he didn’t (previous posts by me go into more detail on this).

    After the BPU unpleasantness, he settled in as a government lobbyist (Salmon Ventures) where he would make a lot more bucks. Along the way relatives got set up at KBA (Burnley) and the DRBA (James Salmon). As a lobbyist, he has been a serious campaign contributor to (mostly) South Jersey (mostly) Democrats. Besides Salmon Ventures, he has also served as Chairman of the NJ Energy Coalition (Reverend Freeholder Mister Dunkins is on the Advisory Board – can you imagine?), an advocacy group that supports nuclear power. Startup funds for the group came from Exelon Corporation that runs, yup, Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant. (I support nuclear power but am not a fan of the tactic where a special interest like Oyster Creek sets up a “dummy” advocacy group to do its PR work.). Besides Salmon Ventures and NJ Energy Coalition, Salmon also serves as chairman of the William Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton State College. I have read the Center’s mission statement and can report that I have no clear idea what the hell it really does.

    Bottom line: Edward Salmon has made the system work for him and his profit. Salmon’s ethos was nicely captured during a Cumberland County Democratic Organization meeting during last year’s campaign. He was being interviewed by Quinn and Salmon stated (and Quinn said the same was true of himself) that back in the late 1960s it was tough to get ahead in the Republican Party in Cumberland County, so he became a Democrat instead where the line wasn’t as long. I think that speak volumes about what drives politicians like Salmon (and Quinn). They didn’t choose the Democratic Party because the party shared their ideals; they chose it because the path to personal advancement was shorter.

    And all this personal advancement of Salmon (ethic charges be damned) has inflated his ego to massive proportions. If you don’t believe me, just watch the “Living Legacy” video that is available over at Salmon Ventures’ website. It is a hoot!!!! And he sure didn’t spend much on it because the camera work is horrendous! The video is a nice slice of Cumberland County politics, and it proves that much of the conflict you see at meetings is little more than the conflict one sees at a professional wrestling match – it is staged. At another level the players are all in it together. For example, here are some of the people you’ll see in Salmon’s “legacy” video: Commissioner Quinn (Quote: “[Salmon] looks the same as he did…years ago” Reality: He does not!) , Fauerbach (Quote: “Ed Salmon’s the guy that showed us how to do it [ i.e., get federal protection for local rivers].” Reality: Doubtful, as he was never more than a state legislator.) , Judge Porreca (Quote: His enthusiasm is infectious.” Reality: At one time, Porreca was listed as an employee of Salmon Ventures; maybe the profit was infectious!), Commissioner Finch (he’s there but does not speak), Governor Byrne (Quote: describes his wife as a “beautiful girl.” He really said that and it really was not cut out!), Governor Florio (Quote: he said a lot of good things. Reality: he sat in your cabinet and got brought up on ethics charges!!!!), and Congressman Hughes (Quote: said lots of good things. Reality: He chairs your Center at Stockton; what else could you say about him?!!!!).

    No student of Cumberland County politics can really understand things without understanding Salmon. Hence this long post.

    I will extend this with a personal note. When I was a boy, I was briefly sick in the hospital. My father came to visit and perused the cards I had received. He read the one from then Freeholder Salmon and proceeded to promptly place it in the trash can. I protested and he politely but firmly told me what a %%$!%&# Salmon was. I still was mad. Many years later I had a few dealings with Fast Eddie that sent me running to my father to tell him that he was indeed right to have tossed that card. He smiled, happy that he had raised a child who 1) wasn’t a shyster and 2) knew how to recognize one.

  12. The Intel Hub News…

    […]Freeholders asking for rebid on Vine St. School « Louis N. Magazzu Watch[…]…

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