Saturday, May 7, 2011

Barnes & Thornburg Attorney, Jeff Qualkinbush, Finds Himself Embroiled in Tremco Roofing Controversy....Again!

Jeff Qualkinbush
I guess Barnes & Thornburg Attorney, Jeff Qualkinbush, didn't learn his lesson after he gave faulty legal advice to the Wilson Education Center in the Tremco-AEPA no-bid debacle that resulted in his being fired by the ESC as well as the ultimate demise of the no-bid scheme after the Attorney General issued his official opinion that it is illegal to circumvent state bidding laws.

Imagine my surprise when I read the following email dated February 10, 2011 written by Qualkinbush to Plymouth's Assistant Superintendent Rodger Smith:

As Doug Copley stated, I have reviewed the relevant law and facts at the request of Tremco and believe the purchase of the roofing materials for the three school facilities are permitted to be purchased from Tremco under the prices offered in its contract with the General Services Administration in accordance with the provisions of Indiana code Title 5, Article 22, Chapter 10, Section 14, as amended.  Accordingly, please find attached to this e-mail in pdf the full packet of materials I believe support the use of this special purchase exception along with the recommended written document that Mr. Schoof, as the purchasing agent for the School Corporation would date, sign and keep on file.  I have also attached this same written document in Word to this e-mail in case you wish to print a cleaner copy for his signature.  I would be happy to discuss this matter with you tomorrow or early next week if you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter.  However, I am unable to do so today as I will be in several meetings beginning in just a few minutes for the remainder of the day.  Thank you for your cooperation and have a great day.

Jeffrey J. Qualkinbush, Esquire
Barnes & Thornburg LLP
11 South Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN  36204

Where do I begin?  First of all, this is a Tremco attorney, so there is an apparent conflict-of-interest for school officials to be receiving advice from him on this highly controversial matter.

Secondly, Qualkinbush is flat wrong....AGAIN...just like he was wrong when he told his multiple clients that it was legal to circumvent bidding laws via Educational Service Centers.  The State Board of Accounts has issued multiple citations against school corporations for following Qualkinbush's advice, and the Attorney General issued an official opinion in 2008 stating that it was illegal for schools to do the types of things that Qualkinbush gave his clients the green light to do.  In the end, Qualkinbush was fired by the Wilson Education Center after the entire no-bid scheme went down in flames.

The law Qualkinbush cites is not a license for school districts to circumvent the state's strict bidding laws.  It reads that "A purchasing agent may make a purchase from a person when the purchasing agent determines in writing that (1) supplies can be purchased from the person or the person's authorized representative at prices equal to or less than the prices stipulated in current federal supply service schedules established by the federal General Services Administration; and (2) it is advantageous to the governmental body's interest in efficiency and economy."

This in no way allows schools to circumvent bidding laws, and more importantly, the Plymouth School District has not received any product for equal or less price.  In fact, the school district spent approximately $400,000 for equal materials that could have been purchased for $100,000.

Plymouth taxpayers have been scammed by some of the same schemers who were involved in the first go around, only this time their excuses are even flimsier.

I'd invite Mr. Qualkinbush to refresh his memory by reading this lengthy audit report that resulted after he gave out faulty legal advice in the AEPA/Tremco no-bid scheme.   I'd invite Plymouth taxpayers to read through the report as well since it provides an overview of Indiana's bidding laws that were ignored by Plymouth school officials.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Qualkinbush has no problem lying. He did it when he claimed that Pike Township could legally put material on its website promoting a referendum as long as it didn't say "vote yes" in the materials.

Qualkinbush and B&T have so many conflicts of interest on these jobs. Its obscene how they get away with what they do.

Diana Vice said...

People think they're getting good lawyers just because the fee at B&T is so high, but some of these big law firms are jokes when it comes to ethics and knowledge.

Diana Vice said...

I wonder how Mr. Jefferey might try to subvert this new law:

House Bill 1238

2011 1st Regular Session

Latest Information

DIGEST OF HB 1238 (Updated April 29, 2011 9:43 pm - DI 113)

Advocacy with public funds. Provides that during the period beginning with the adoption of a resolution by a school corporation to place a school levy referendum question on the ballot and continuing through the day on which the referendum is submitted to the voters, the school corporation may not promote a position on the referendum by taking certain actions. Provides that a political subdivision may not artificially divide a capital project into multiple capital projects in order to avoid the requirements of the petition and remonstrance process. (Under current law, such a prohibition applies under the capital projects referendum statutes.) Provides that the ballot language for a capital project referendum must first be approved by the department of local government finance (DLGF). (Under current law, the DLGF makes recommendations concerning the ballot language.) Provides that the language of a school referendum levy question to be submitted to voters must first be approved by the DLGF. Prohibits a person or organization that provides goods or services to a school corporation under contract from spending money to promote a position on a school corporation's capital project petition and remonstrance, capital project referendum, or referendum tax levy, unless: (1) the person is an employee of the school corporation whose employment is governed by a collective bargaining contract or employment contract; or (2) the person or organization has a contract with a school corporation solely for the use of the school corporation's facilities. Provides that if a referendum levy is approved by the voters in a school corporation in a calendar year, another referendum levy question may not be placed on the ballot in the school corporation in the following calendar year. Provides that if a school corporation imposes a referendum levy approved in a referendum, the school corporation may not simultaneously impose more than one additional referendum levy approved in a subsequent referendum. Provides that advocacy or discussion by certain officials concerning a petition and remonstrance or referendum is allowed and is not considered a use of public funds. Prohibits an employee of a school corporation from initiating discussion of a petition and remonstrance or referendum at a meeting between a teacher and parents of a student regarding the student's performance or behavior at school. Provides that an official of a political subdivision who is authorized to discuss or advocate for or against a petition or remonstrance or a referendum may be assisted by an employee of the political subdivision. Removes the county fiscal body from the school referendum levy process. Provides that the county fiscal body is not required to certify the referendum question. Repeals a superseded provision.

Diana Vice said...

Yes, I agree, Paul, that Qualkinbush broke the law. I was wondering if this newer strengthened law would make it more difficult for him to do so in the future.

Either he is so incompetent as an attorney, or he doesn't care about breaking laws.

Bradley said...

Here you go Diana -- Mr. Qualkinbush is doing a presentation at the Indiana Association of School Business Officials (IASBO) Annual Meeting this week (on Thursday). His presentation is entitled "Legal Aspects of School Construction Projects". Here's the lineup of the conference: