Manistique Contract Bidding Policy Controversy Public Comments
Sole-Source Engineering Contract
Public Comments to City Council

trans1x1 gif "Regarding my main reason to address council:

First I wish to qualify my position as one who is not intimately involved with establishing and implementing City policy. I am ignorant, to a great degree, like other members of the public that take an interest in various facets of local government. That ignorance is as much a consequence of getting on with my own life as it is a consequence of being a victim of deliberate deceit, misinformation, and the suppression of information by those that wish to achieve certain goals without the scrutiny of the general public.

I have every reason to believe that I am wasting my time, tonight, but I have never felt compelled to let questionable behavior, by local government officials, to become acceptable policy, by default.

With my current qualifications public, on to the business at hand. I have provided copies of my questions to City Council members, the City Attorney, and the City Manager. I will read all the questions, in order, and then let Council address or ignore them, as they consider appropriate. There are no subjects not considered in a recent editorial letter, published in the Pioneer Tribune, last week.

What was the selection process for the considered Wilcox engineering and oversight contract for capping the landfill after the UP regional engineering staff of Tetra-Tech MPS resigned and found similar employment with other businesses? As Tetra-Tek MPS chose to decline further Manistique landfill business

Was that selection process consistent with the established City policy of bidding engineering contracts of over $100,000?

Were key personnel of Wilcox Professional Services, the Manistique City Attorney, the Manistique City Manager and the Mayor of Manistique aware of the City's bidding policy, established in November of 1998?

If they were aware of the City policy, why the apparent public confusion and excuses concerning the propriety of choosing a sole-source engineering contract that appears to violate established City policy?

Did the public confusion and "soul searching" of City Council members, during the Council meeting of March 25, indicate an ignorance of the issues greater than mine? If so, why?

Is it likely that the business aspirations of ex-employees of Tetra-Tech MPS, clouded their judgment in their attempt to bring to their new employer, Wilcox Associates, a lucrative contract with the City of Manistique, with the implication of more significant civil engineering projects to come? I suspect they knew about existing city policy; as it impacted the business of their previous employer, directly.

Did the familiar relationship between the City Manager and former employees of Tetra-Tech MPS influence his judgment concerning the replacement of the vacant Tetra-Tech MPS position with Wilcox Professional Services as the engineering business responsible for the continuation of the M-94 landfill closure?

To date, I might be inclined to assume that, relative to past voiced legal concerns surrounding the current sole-source contract, there are none. At the last Council meeting of 04/08/02, when Mr. Germane asked if Council had resolved its problems with issues related to the sole-source Wilcox-Housler contract, no member of Council had any comment. The City manager stated he was still looking into it and the City Attorney offered no knowledge that he wished to share with the public. No one seemed concerned, even though Envirogen's interest in the landfill capping business was known, formally, by City officials, since late February (or earlier).

The current situation reminds me of past Council behavior where ignoring a valid complaint and surrounding issues forced the aggrieved to give up in disgust. Given the paper trail and witnesses to much of the apparent inappropriate behavior, I hope, from a personal point of view, that Envirogen does not "go away" until some honest answers are forthcoming.

Regardless of how the current sole-source contract issues are resolved or explained away, or how justified the reasons for apparent deceit and misinformation, to me, the integrity of Manistique City Council members, the City Manager, the City Attorney, and certain staff members of Wilcox Professional Services is compromised. The manner in which the City chose to continue a business relationship with certain engineers was not necessary, and brings to mind, immediately, the question of personal gain to several of the parties involved.

Without knowledge or rumor of bags of money, I have to assume Manistique city government has sold its integrity for considerably less, given the lame public reasoning, to date.

I am hoping for some palatable explanations that go beyond the expedience of the moment.

Peter Markham"


The City Council decided, while meeting 04/22/02, to solicit bids for the general engineering and oversight contract.

It is my intent, if the Pioneer Tribune agrees, to include their report of the City Council's and City Manager's response, in the 04/25/02 edition.


Manistique City Council approved the lowest acceptable bid from Bittner Engineering, of Escanaba, for a total of $107,000. In addition, is an approximate cost of $15,000 for early work overseen by Chuck Lawson of Wilcox Professional Services. The total should result in the oversight engineering costs of approximately $122,000 as a bidden contract, vs the proposed sole source contract of approximately $225,000.

The bid contract from Wilcox Professional Services was $129,856, some $95,000 less than the proposed sole source contract they were almost given.

I have no knowledge of why Wilcox Professional Services bid contract was some 42% less than the sole source contract costs they almost received. I have little doubt that the competitive bidding process made them and Manistique City Council and Administration a little more honest and less cavalier with Manistique taxpayer revenues.

My sincere thanks to Matt Germane, of Envirogen, for his courage to question the proposed sole source contract. Had he remained silent, I have no doubt the tainted contract would be in effect.

I will let history stand as my vindication and my answer to City Manager Housler's challenge to "put up or shut up", relative to the sole source contract issues.


Extract from the current City Charter of the City of Manistique:

to authorize the making of contracts on behalf of the City 
is vested in the Council and shall be exercised in 
accordance with the provisions of the law.

(b) All contracts, except as otherwise provided by ordinance 
in accordance with the provisions of Section 12.2 hereof, 
shall be authorized by the Council and shall be signed on 
behalf of the City by the Mayor and the Clerk.


Section 12.2 The Council shall establish, by ordinance, the 
procedures for the purchase and sale of personal property 
for the City, for the direction of the City Manager, The 
ordinance shall provide the dollar limit within which 
purchase of personal property may be made without the 
necessity of securing competitive bids, and the dollar limit 
within which purchases may be made without the necessity of 
prior Council approval. No purchase of personal property 
shall be made unless a sufficient unencumbered appropriation 
balance is available therefor or provision made by the 
Council for financing same.


Section 12.3 (a) The Council shall only have power to enter 
into contracts which, by the terms thereof, will be fully 
executed within a period of thirty (30) years, unless such 
contracts shall first receive the approval of a majority of 
the qualified electors voting thereon at a regular or 
special election. This qualification shall not apply to any 
contract for service with a public utility or one or more 
other governmental units, nor to contracts for debt secured 
by bonds or notes which are permitted to be issued by the 
City by law.

(b)  The City shall not have power to purchase, 
sell, or dispose of any real estate unless:

	(1)  In case of sale, there shall be at least two 
	published advertisements for bids prior to adoption of a 
	resolution for sale or disposal.

	(2)  Such action is approved by the affirmative vote of at 
	least four members of the Council, and unless,

	(3)  In the case of real estate owned by it, the 
	resolution authorizing the sale, lease, or disposal 
	thereof shall be completed in the manner in which it is 
	finally passed and has remained on file with the Clerk for 
	public inspection for ten days before the final adoption 
	or passage thereof,,

(c)  Except as provided by ordinance authorized by Section 
12.2 of this chapter, each contract for construction or 
public improvements or for the purchase or sale of personal 
property shall be let after opportunity for competitive 
bidding. All bids shall be opened in public by the City 
Manager or his authorized representative at the time 
designated in the notice of letting and shall be reported by 
him to the Council at its next meeting. The Council may 
reject any or all bids, if deemed advisable. If, after ample 
opportunity for competitive bidding, no bids are received or 
such bids as were received were not satisfactory to the 
Council, the Council may either endeavor to obtain new 
competitive bids or authorize the City Manager or other 
proper official of the City to negotiate for a contract on 
the open market.

(d)  All contracts shall be in accordance with Sections 4.13 
and 5.14 (a) of this Charter.


Section 12.4 All licenses and franchises granted 
by the City of Manistique and in force within the City when 
this Charter becomes law, shall remain in full force and 
effect until the expiration of the time for which they were 
respectively granted.
 © 2002-2003
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