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  • Writer's pictureMike Burkons

Part 1 - We are lying to residents about important things

Here is a short post for those interested and/or concerned about the proposed Richmond/Chagrin/271 project. First, some quick background...

There is a state law (ORC 153.65-.71) requiring that all engineering and design contracts over $50k must be awarded in a specific competitive process. There is also a similar local law (BCO 169.01-.02), the City of Beachwood passed in 1998 lowering that threshold down to $25k.

  • The City of Beachwood believes they don't have to follow these laws if they don't want to (of course we do, but that is explained in a different post you can read here).

  • Instead, we follow the recommendation of Joe Cuini, our City Engineer and "award" all these contracts to GPD, the engineering firm he is employed by, at whatever he determines they should be paid for the work without allowing any other firm to submit a proposal or be considered.

  • Since May of 2020, when I first pointed out this illegal practice, we have "awarded" GPD 7 contracts this way, with totals of $299,506, $110,000, $111,500, $77,296, $122,000, $82,000, $54,416, $55,000.

This brings us to the recent Council meeting on 6-21-22, where GPD asked Council for a 3rd time since 2019, to move forward with the $1.3m contract for the detailed design phase of the Bryden/Richmond/Chagrin/271 project.

  • However, since $1m of the $1.3m contract would be paid for by ODOT, the ordinance they required City Council to pass specifically stated the City must award the contract in the specific competitive process mandated by state law in ORC 153.65-.71.

This presented quite a quandary. What does the City do when they want to give this $1.3m contract to GPD the same way they usually do, without allowing any other firm to be considered, but unlike other instances, can't claim we don't have to award it following the specific competitive process mandated by ORC 153.65-.71? Here is the path they chose...

Step One - Simply lie and have the Council President, Law Director, Public Works Director and City Engineer, all claim the competitive process required in ORC 153.65-.71 did occur to award GPD this $1.3m contract. (Spoiler alert, records received from a simple public records request to both the City and ODOT showed this never happened. You can read more about this in this post).

As you can see in the short clip below from the 6-21-22 Council meeting, they even went as far as claiming that GPD prevailed as the top ranked firm over "3 or 4 other firms", in this required competitive process to award this $1.3m contract, which never occurred.

Step Two - Go on the offensive and attack anyone that dares to call out this illegal practice and point out that what they are claiming isn't true. As you can see in this second short clip below from 6-21-22 Council meeting, they even went as far as claiming that the person alerting the public to what has objectively proven to be true, was "spreading misinformation".

I can't and won't try to explain why this is acceptable to others but there is one other quick issue the public should be made aware of...

  • Joe Cuini and GPD, are the person and firm the City of Beachwood hired to be our City Engineer.

  • In that role they are supposed to be our unbiased and non-conflicted experts we rely on for advice and guidance on all things engineering and infrastructure related.

  • This was GPD's 3rd attempt to get Council to vote to move this project forward since 2019.

  • In those 3+ years, until this recent Council meeting, it was never disclosed that GPD was already chosen to receive the $1.3m contract, if they could finally get the 4 votes on Council needed to move the project forward.

  • It has not been explained why this clear conflict of interest was never disclosed.

  • Again, I can't and won't try to explain why this is acceptable to others.

I wanted to keep this post short but if you want to get more into the weeds, and understand this issue in more detail, you can click here.

Mike Burkons


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