|Sign left at a statehouse hearing room to discuss the no-bid scheme|
"Because the use of group-purchasing agencies, 'buy boards,' and other similar purchasing models in any type of buiding construction, remediation or rehabilitation is not transparent, does not provide a competitive bid situation, and may not ensure compliance with the minimum requirements of the codes, RCI believes they should not be utilized," read a portion of a position announcement issued by RCI on June 26, 2012. "Independent consulting and competitive bidding are much more likely to meet these objectives and conserve the taxpayer/stakeholder assets," it went on to read.
As a result, the RCI Board of Directors adopted the following position:
RCI, Inc. supports public policies, requirements, and administrative procedures in public procurement processes that mandate the open selection of goods, services, and construction contracts on the basis of qualifications and opposes such procurement on the sole basis of fees, costs, and/or proprietary specifications. Competitive, qualifications-based selection is essential to fostering fair and impartial purchasing that serves public health and safety in the built environment. Preserving the health, safety and welfare of the public is a moral, ethical, and legal requirement for a procurement agency as well as the provider. RCI, Inc. maintains that the public is best served by a procurement process which meets the unique and specific requirements inherent in each individual project and contract.Read the entire statement at this link.
This significant move is long overdue as taxpayers and individual members of the roofing industry have been fighting the illegalities of what some have referred to as a "multi-billion dollar roofing fraud scheme" for several years.
In fact, this blogger and other taxpayers were sued by Tremco, an Ohio-based roofing manufacturer, for petitioning Indiana government officials with concerns about the no-bid roofing scheme that was eventually deemed to be illegal by former Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter.
The Attorney General's opinion did not come without a fight as he and other government officials first ignored the pleas of Indiana taxpayers as they were being persecuted by an Ohio-based roofing manufacturing giant with deep pockets.
It was also discovered that the schemers hired lawyers with close associations with high-ranking government officials, including the governor, who remained silent on the matter even though he had issued a moratorium on wasteful school construction spending. The tenacious taxpayers were not deterred or intimidated, however.
With the help of Senators Tom Weatherwax and Ron Alting, the beleaguered taxpayers found welcomed relief as the legislators began introducing legislation to tie up perceived loopholes that schemers were using to perpetrate what many in the roofing industry were referring to as "corruption and fraud." The schemers responded by sending in lobbyists to protect the interest of the out-of-state corporations.
Former Senator Teresa Lubbers did an about-face after meeting with lobbyists. As Chairman of the Education Committee, she gave into their demands by derailing a bill that had received bi-partisan support on first reading. Taxpayers saw first hand how things really worked at the Indiana statehouse. Hoosier interests took a back seat to the personal loyalties of politically-connected lobbyists. Persistence eventually paid off, however.
|Lubbers turned her back on taxpayers after politically-connected lobbyists intervened|
The political fall-out took a major toll on the scheme as the facade began to crumble and the motives for suing taxpayers became much clearer. The attempts to silence the critics of the scheme severely backfired as they began receiving nationwide notice.
This blog was originally created for the purpose of drawing attention to the fact that the scheme was costing Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars while Indiana businesses were being shut out of the competition in favor of Tremco, the sole vendor for Indiana's Educational Service Centers. The efforts of taxpayers and roofing industry representatives proved to be successful as the scheme was eventually shut down in the Hoosier state.
Protests against the scheme eventually spread to other states, including Pennsylvania, where the same no-bid procurement mechanism was being implemented by Association of Educational Purchasing Agency. A lawsuit is now in full swing in Pennsylvania where taxpayers were being ripped off to the tune of over $300,000,000 million dollars each year! The scheme has also drawn the attention of attorneys general in other states. In addition, the FBI has reportedly been investigating the alleged fraud. Needless to say, suing taxpayers had a boomerang effect in what started out as a David vs. Goliath battle.
This blog stands as a testament to the fact that a few people, including an ordinary housewife, pitted agaisnt tyranny, can succeed with perseverance and patience.
This is a story that keeps on giving.