Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you…………just what you wanna hear.
On Tuesday, the Eureka City Council held a special meeting regarding the recent troubles with the Martin Slough Interceptor. The meeting was to decide whether to award a 3.9 million dollar contract to Wahlund Construction to complete the work which Apex Drilling had pulled out of. That was the same amount originally awarded to Apex last year. Watching the meeting, it was easy to see that the diligent and hardworking Council took this huge expenditure of public funds seriously. Not.
The meeting lasted about 5 minutes and none of the Council members asked any questions of city staff. 3.9 million dollars and no questions asked. WTF? In looking at the agenda documents, Examiner staff saw numerous areas that demanded clarification. The Council didn’t care or didn’t want to know any more information though.
First off, in the documents Apex Drilling claims that the project they bid on had a flawed soil analysis by SHN Consulting. Instead of “Hookton Formation” soil, there was supposedly just gray sand. They described the soil as “just like beach sand”. Apex stated that a third party company conducted daily analysis of the soil, and gave those soil analysis reports to SHN on a daily basis. SHN supposedly refused to accept those reports, or engineer changes to the plan to account for putting a pipe into the sand (as opposed to stable dirt). To date, Apex has been paid 2.7 million dollars for the project.
That’s right, Apex has been paid 2.7 million and now Wahlund has been awarded the same contract as Apex which brings this Boondoggle to 5.6 million dollars. Has the city analyzed the soil to check Apex’s claims? Is the city still using SHN’s plans and analysis in their contract with Wahlund? None of that is clear in the agenda documents, and certainly weren’t touched on in the meeting. We ask the question, is the same City Engineer that oversaw this disaster still in charge?
Also in the agenda documents, were references to the Cincinnati Insurance Company, who issued bonds regarding the work to be done under the contract. The City had made a claim to the insurance company, but the insurance company hasn’t accepted the claim. So, does that mean that the 2.7 million dollars paid to Apex might not be recovered? We don’t know, because the Council never saw fit to ask.
The Examiner has to wonder whether it’s a lack of intelligence, complete hubris, or just not caring about spending the public’s money that causes this Council to vote on spending huge amounts of cash without asking questions or apparently really knowing what’s going on.
Or, maybe they have the answers to all of the above questions because they discussed them already outside of the public’s view. Given the repeated Brown Act violations by this Council, it wouldn’t surprise us.