There was a great item in the Ben column today:
“Rumor has it that the county freeholders will forge ahead and award the Vine Street School contract to the Camden architectural firm, whose bid was approximately double that of the two local architects who also bid for the job.
“All were prequalified, but it looks like the freeholders don’t mind paying an extra quarter of a million dollars to the Camden firm, despite the poor economy, the strategic cuts we will all experience this year and the lack of any extra money in Cumberland County.
“Is it because the Camden firm was the only one to make a political contribution, even though ‘pay to play is frowned upon?
“So strong was their (freeholders) desire to stick to the high-bidding Camden firm that one of the board members personally sought out the high bidder and announced that he had convinced them to lower their bid from some $600,000 to something in the $500,000-plus area.
“If that wasn’t downright illegal, it was certainly unethical and exposed the raw bias of the board of chosen freeholders.
“What, didn’t they get enough when they chose a Camden firm to construct the court house addition? That fiasco will cost taxpayers additional millions now that the shoddy job has been discovered there!
“Back to the Vine Street school job.
“Citizens should also know that the freeholders have already given the Camden firm over $200,000 to issue a ‘boiler plate study’ to tell them that the Vine Street School could be renovated.
“I believed the purpose of bidding was to select the lowest qualified bid.
“Look for trumped up reasons why our board of freeholders will choose the Camden firm and cost us an additional quarter of a million dollars!
— Joann D’Arrigo
Joann – many thanks for putting this into writing, and putting it out to the public.