Different Players, Same Game

Sometimes they get it right, other times they get it wrong. I didn’t attend the freeholder meeting in question, and there are no news stories on this particular vote, so I have to rely on information provided by a friend that was in attendance. If anybody can clarify this incident, please feel free.

At last Tuesday’s freeholder meeting, Resolution 2011-750 came up for a vote. This resolution was for the award of a professional service contract for RFP 11-154 –  for auditing services. The county does need to be audited, and at a forensic level, paying careful attention to possible nepotism and favoritism. After a brief discussion, this resolution was tabled.

The freeholders then went into executive session.Under the Lou Magazzu regime, executive sessions were a great way to clear the auditorium of spectators. People would get bored of waiting, and figure the bulk of the business was done. Even the media would vacate, busy publishing the stories they already had, relying on the pablum passed on by the county freeholders for fodder of whatever occurred after the closed session meeting.

The freeholders came out of the closed-session, and then immediately began discussing the tabled resolution. However, no motion was made to remove the resolution from table. Discussion involved confusion over the amounts of the bids. Three bids were offered in response to the RFP. Bowman and Associates is the current agency contracted for the job.

Bowman & Company LLP, Voorhees, NJ with a bid of $148,500 (actually $141,550)

Ford, Scott & Associates of Ocean City, NJ at $141,550 (actually $148,500)

Hutchins, Farrell, Meyer & Allison, PA of Freehold, NJ at $140,625

The initial discussion revolved around the bids from Bowman and Associates and Ford, Scott and Associates – apparently there was a typographical error and the bids were reversed. During the discussion, it was noted that “new eyes are needed”. Okay, so a changing of the guard – I have no problem with that. Three companies bid on the RFP. To get new eyes, Bowman could appoint a different employee to the account, or one of the other two firms could be hired.

But you see, Bowman was a regular supporter of the Democrats. Bowman employees were regular contributors to Cumberland County candidates, such as Nelson Thompson and Joe Pepitone. All part of the shell game – have employees donate to campaigns so the company is not prohibited from working due to pay-to-play laws.

However, Bowman was the second lowest bidder for the RFP. The lowest bidder was Hutchins Farrell Meyer & Allsion of Freehold. The contract was awarded to Ford, Scott of Ocean City.  that’s right, the contract went to the HIGHEST BIDDER!

Well, it turns out that Ford, Scott is a major contributor to Republicans in South Jersey. I could find no information on ELEC for Hutchins et. al. So here we go, different players but the same old game!  I don’t care who anybody contributes to, as long as the contract is awarded to the lowest bidder. But this is disconcerting, to find this early in the game that political games and favoritism still rule the day in Cumberland County.

I can only hope that I am wrong, and that my source’s notes were confused. If so, then I will immediately correct this article. It is time for cronyism to end, and if the new regime won’t do it, then there is no reason whatsoever for changing of the guard. Let’s just call Lou, and put him back in charge!



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