The awarding of the questionable Highland Park School addition contract to out of town Anderson Construction of Helena instead of local contractor Clausen and Son has taken on yet a new twist. Local tax paying community members have been bombarding the School Board members with calls and letters demanding to know why local dollars are being “sent down the highway” instead of “stimulating” one of our own local taxpaying employers and his locally living and spending crew members. Here’s what they have learned.
First, most callers were told that Clausen didn’t have the experience with the “construction manager at risk” concept of contracting that the school had chosen to use on this 1.5 million dollar project. Imagine what a kick to the rear they will feel when they learn that Clausen and Son is inches away from being awarded a 5 million dollar Jail project in Glasgow using, you guessed it, a “construction manager at risk” contract with stimulus funds.
Secondly, a couple of board members let slip that Superintendent Dave Mahon, formerly of Huntley Project Montana, had suggested the “construction manager at risk” type of contract as the best approach to getting stimulus funds because he had experience with the process in Huntley. Also it is interesting to note that Dave Mahon, Dick Anderson Construction, and Nelson Architects all were involved in the Huntley Project construction process. Further inquiry reveals that Superintendent Mahon did in fact favor Anderson Construction and Nelson Architects because of his prior connection and did make this selection recommendation to the board. ATTENTION MR MAHON! You now live and are paid with tax dollars collected in HAVRE MONTANA……………….not Huntley project, Great Falls, or Helena.
Thirdly, the school board members that were quizzed by our “investigative” team, mentioned several times that they have been told to only disclose items that were given to them on a “talking points” type list by Chairman Huston during a behind the doors school board meeting because of “legal” and confidentiality” issues. HELLO unaware school board members! You may just want to check Montana Code Annotated 2-3-203 http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/2/3/2-3-203.htm to refresh yourselves as to Montana open meeting laws which you clearly are violating.
Section 2-3-202 also states that a meeting can be by means of electronic equipment such as telephone or e-mail for determining an action over which the board has supervision or control. http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/2/3/2-3-202.htm
Montana Code Annotated provides in Section 2-3-114 that any school board decision which has violated the open meeting provisions of the code can be set aside according to the law. In our humble opinion, local contractor Clausen should consult with his attorney as these bids should be re-opened. http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/2/3/2-3-114.htm
What else do you suppose the School Board and Superintendent Mahon are hiding from the poor over-burdened taxpayers of Havre?