This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 12, 2010 8:42 AM. The previous post in this blog was Nigel, you missed one. The next post in this blog is The tempest. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

That'll teach ya to come sniffing around

Here's a heck of a story: Some neighborhood activists go down to the Portland Water Bureau to look at some public records relating to a big construction contract. A bureaucrat watches over their shoulders while they look through the papers, then presents them with a bill for $57.72 for two hours of "supervision" and photocopies of eight pages.

And there's this:

Within the first few minutes, Jones noticed she wasn’t given any of the names of the people on the panel that reviewed the bids for this contract. Jones had specifically requested the names of the people involved in the review panel/contract award process, so we asked Small if she could help Jones get that piece of information. Small was told by Mike Stuhr (head engineer) and Annette Dubishinsky that PWB was not authorized to disclose panel member identities, by city code. Jones corrected staff -- city code prohibits the disclosure of reviewer identities only until the point when the contract is awarded. The contract for Powell Butte Res 3 has already been signed. Shortly thereafter, Mike Stuhr appeared with the names. The seven panel members were as follows: 1) Jerry More, PWB; 2) Michael Angerinos, PWB Citizen, 3) Crystal Yezman, PWB, 4) Stan VandeBergh, PWB, 5) George Lozovoy, Parks Bureau, 6) Tamra Dickson, citizen, 7) Teresa Elliot, PWB. Notice that PWB does not seem to be following the City Auditor's report on consultant contracts, which advises against loading bid review panels with Bureau staff.
Wow. And why would they be so touchy about the bid papers on a huge contract? I know what that means back where I grew up. Good thing we're in Portlandia, where that sort of thing never happens.

Comments (14)

These activists should petition for a fee waiver. Instructions on how to do this can be found at


I stepped on that rake and got whacked in the face one time -- I asked for a complete list of the employees, consultants and salaries/compensation for a medium size public entity. They had their computer print the individual records (apparently printed alphabetically by employee last name) instead of a summary report so I got a legal box full of paper, with the printouts thrown in there -- and a bill for nearly $200.

What I learned is that you can take as much time talking to them as you need or want to learn the identity of documents to request and they can't charge you for that at all, so you can make this kind of crap backfire on them.

"Tamra Dickson, citizen"?

Googled her and nothing.

How's that?

Googled her and nothing.

Who knows, I Googled my own name and didnt find anything either.

Out here my my town, Milwaukie, the City is refusing to pay for new sewer facilities to serve new developments out in the county. I think I made the right move, leaving Portland.

Try asking for something they really want to hide. For example city emails will cost you $95/hour and could take 10+ hours for a simple narrow request.

ORS 192.440 []

(4)(a) The public body may establish fees reasonably calculated to reimburse the public body for the public body’s actual cost of making public records available, including costs for summarizing, compiling or tailoring the public records, either in organization or media, to meet the person’s request.


(c) The public body may not establish a fee greater than $25 under this section unless the public body first provides the requestor with a written notification of the estimated amount of the fee and the requestor confirms that the requestor wants the public body to proceed with making the public record available.

I can find no statutory authorization for charging any fee for "supervision."

This is how I begin my requests:

"This is a public records request. It is made pursuant to state law, unless greater openness is accorded by the City of Portland in excess of that of the state. See ORS Chapter 192."

What is equally disgusting (and more)is inside S. Stewart's Co-Chair of Mt. Tabor NA letter. At bid opening, CH2MHill bid was $5,586,884. Next lowest bid was Tetra Tech at $8,683,852. After some after-the-bid manipulations, CH2MHills bid jumped to $8455,246-a 66% INCREASE!

Here's one scenario that could have happened. Before the bid opening, CoP staff, hired engineers making the plans, politicians, whatever could have told CH2M in secret code words to submit a "reasonable" low bid (Ha!)-there will be changes to the scope of the work after bid opening so our "cooperative efforts" to determine actual project costs will allow "descent remuneration". This occurs frequently with CoP.

The other scenario is no secret code words were used and it is even more criminally insane.

This is an illegal practice. Why wasn't Tetra Tech given an opportunity to resubmit whole or part of their bid if scope of project changed? Or even other contractors who submitted?

I think there will be a field day for attorneys on this one.

Speaking of city supervision, a 23Dec O (Mayer) item noted:

"In the company of a PF&R Safety Officer and when properly equipped, Commissioner Leonard is now qualified to be on the fireground," the bureau reported on its Web site. "PF&R is fortunate to have such a hands-on Commissioner!"

No one has ever suggested how much the PF&R's Safety Officer assigned as company for our "hands-on Commissioner" is costing taxpayers.

". . . reasonably calculated to reimburse the public body for the public body’s actual cost of making public records available . . ." sounds pretty loosey goosey to me. It all hangs on what the definition of "reasonably calculated" may be and who is interpreting it.

Did they get a breakdown for the bill or simply a flat amount due?

What, no comment from the water bureau?! Usually, they just jump right in when you have a post about their work.

The Water Bureau has a long history of wanting to limit access to public information particularly as relates to their relationship with cozy consultants.
The PTE services (professional,technical,expert)selection sheet was produced electronically and could have been provided as requested in October with the click of a button.

CH2MHill always had the inside track. CH2MHill's proposal stated that they were already working on the reservoir burial project doing permitting work for the PWB. And community stakeholders learned in late 2009 that the PWB's favorite cozy consultant Joe Glicker had moved from MWH to CH2MHIll sometime in '06/'07. Since then CH2MHill has been the beneficiary of major PWB design contracts,i.e Sandy River Crossing (SRX), Powell Butte II.

CH2MHIl's proposal also revealed that CH2MHill produced a Bull Run UV design report for the PWB in July. Wonder who is in line to get the UV Radiation facility design contract that will be going before Council this year?

Tetra Tech, the only other firm to submit a proposal for the reservoir contract teamed with MWH, Black and Veatch, also favored consultants, part of the logging-rolling big 3. The name Tetra Tech is not as familiar as MWH and Black and Veatch .http://www.friendsofreservoirs.org/background.html

I take that back, "I think there will be a field day for attorneys on this one".

The third scenario, and most likely, is that CH2MHill and Tetra agree that "you take this inflated contract this time and we get the next". That happens frequently in Portland too-collusion.

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