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.