Sunday, November 1, 2009


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 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.

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.

What else do you suppose the School Board and Superintendent Mahon are hiding from the poor over-burdened taxpayers of Havre?


  1. I think a lot of things are hidden from us taxpayers by many boards, not just the schoolboard although they do rank as the place where most of our tax dollars are spent. I don't think very many people that work at the school system ever stop to think what location the tax dollars used to pay their salaries come from or would they care as long as they keep coming

  2. In the recent article in the HDN;(supplemented by the Havre Public School Board - apparently attempting to shame the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce), a representative of the school board said that stimulus money was being used for the Highland Park project. Apparently we are to feel better because that's just not local taxpayers money - IT IS STIMULUS $$. OK Where does stimulus money come from?? I can tell you it is not coming from the Havre economy. Just maybe the school board thinks it grows on a tree, the same tree where they have there secret hideout, where they make their brilliant decisions. People - Look for this tree it will have the sign "NO TAXPAYERS ALLOWED!" The School District Clerk will be looking for this tree too - as I quote Dave Mahon from last nights school board meeting "Zella & I will find the money needed".

  3. ShopGirl ……. We appreciate your post about the meeting last night. Sadly we don’t have enough help here at the Havre Daily Corrector to attend all the meetings going on in Havre at any given time. Our goal is to keep the taxpayers informed what is actually going on without having them depend on the inaccurate and partial reporting of the Havre Daily News. Would you be willing to do some guest editorials about what goes on at the school board meetings? Our readers are interested in keeping on top of what our largest tax spending entity is up too but we could use some help. E-mail us at the and we would be happy to post your article as an editorial by ShopGirl


  4. do you people even read things before you comment? Clausen is doing in Glasgow what he is fighting here. why would he do a job in Glagow if it isn't right to give a job to an out of town contractor? It is called hypocracy. WAKE UP YOU WHINY CRY BABY PEEPEE PANTS HYPOCRITS

  5. Wow Mark, Are you in 1st grade? Does Glasgow have a local contractor the size of Clausen's shop that would be qualified to do that particular job? I don't know I am not in Glasgow. But that would be my most logical step before I started childish name calling.

    The larger issue here >> this school board they didn't offer this type of process to anyone else locally. Especially since they haven't given proof that they used their personally designed rubric system to select a contractor. Steve McLain Construction or Dan Korb Construction could have been offered to bid on a 6 classroom building. Head & Bailey, they do beautiful work. Lotton Construction - another local contractor with experience that has done large projects in this community.

    The superintendent and the school board chair missed an opportunity here; we (Havre) has a great base of local contractors that care for this community; there are probably contractors I am not even aware of that could have been given a shot. That stimulus dollar will not be spread around here; except for the maybe the motel that the Anderson Crew may use (Which could be the Americ Inn - a Patrick/Clausen holding) or the lunches they may eat and the tank of gas they need to buy to go back to HELENA or wherever those Anderson employees live.

    For every dollar paid to a local employee, it could multiply 7 fold; 3rd grade math will get you thru this calculation. 1.3 * 7 = 9 that is in millions

    Mark.......Regardless of your apparent personal feelings against Clausen, the school board denied a large portion of stimulus $$ to local employers with local employees.

  6. BTW - Mark - I don't think Dave Clausen is "fighting" this issue. A Clausen employee is writing letters to the HDN editor; I know Tracy McLain and he is not a ghost writer for Dave Clausen. He is a man of his own opinion.

  7. Mark, let's be honest about what we're talking about here. ShopGirl has it exactly right. The "big picture" paints a different portrait. This is not about whether or not Clausen (a private business) can do jobs in other communities, this is about the School Board, who are supposed to represent, us the taxpayers, choosing to spend stimulus dollars outside Havre. PERIOD. END OF STORY. Public have the responsibility of weighing all the options and supporting the businesses that pay for the very institution providing the contract must weigh into this situation provided they are capable of doing the job. Construction Manager at Risk is just another way for a general contractor to make a profit in the form of a consulting fee. Do they take risk, yes, but the very same requirments the school board put on these bidders could be achieved using standard contracting and bidding procedures. Look at the numbers, Construction Manager at Risk projects are not any more popular than standard contract jobs and if they were don't you think we would have been using them everywhere? And now you've made me pee my pants again!

  8. Shop Girl - you made a great point. There are alot of very talented contractors right here in Havre . . . Steve McLain Construction, Korb Construction, Head & Bailey, C&C Excavation, Lakeside Excavation . . . and had Clausen been awarded the project NOT ONE OF THESE CONTRACTORS WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ANY OF THE WORK. However Dick Anderson may very well use one or more of these locals in addition to the hotel, food and gas. At least with Dick Anderson there hope.

    And yes there are contractors in Glasgow. No, none as big as Clausen but you can only grow if you get a chance to do the work. When Dave Clausen got the business from his Dad he was smaller - 15 years and some work helps growth.

  9. My point is that you think it is ok for Clausen to take government money intended for Glasgow residents, but they should also have the right to take it for Havre residents. Don't you see the hypocracy there? My pee pee pants remark was uncalled for. In a perfect world all the jobs in Havre would be done by local contractors and all the jobs in other towns would be done locally too. Clausen wants both sides and it is wrong. How come Dave and Terry Schend haven't voiced their opinions on this, but their partners have? You know (probably first hand Shop Girl) that Tracy and Debi must have talked to them prior to opening this can of worms.
    And as for their "personally designed rubik system" isn't that the same system used in Glasgow to pick Clausen ahead of the other contractors?
    Dave Clausen is a very community oriented business man. He has done great things here. He should be as nice to Glasgow's carpenters as he wants to be to Havre's.

  10. I believe the community of Glasgow should be asking themselves the very same questions that the Havre taxpayers are asking. The parallel is a very strong argument. I do not deny that one bit. These thoughts have been on my mind several times while I sit before this keyboard.

    It appears that the School Board has not been "user friendly" in the taxpayers request for data. What is the problem with putting out the scores? They can use the Havre Daily for all I care.

    Are we satisfied with motel, gas and lunch & dinner receipts for economic stimulus. Hell YA - the more I think about it - the more settled I become about those opportunities for those businesses! They would not have possibly been there using a local contractor. I hope our community welcomes Dick Anderson and his crew with open arms; to really show them - It is the People. One blogger wrote "Let us make Lemonade out of Lemons." If anyone knows someone at the supporting businesses - urge them to get creative with their offerings!

    But the questions are still there - did the savings out way the choice of an out of town contractor? Could the School Board Chair and the Superintendent handled the information to the public better? To continually use comments like "you should have been at the meeting to voice your concerns then" or "Our decision is final" seems like someone is hiding something. I am left wondering where are the ingredients to that recipe of decision making.

    SO FAR -- that information has yet to be revealed. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this in a manner that doesn't seem so juvenile, now I need to go use the potty. :)