An Open Letter to the Publisher of the Marin IJ requesting a correction to the Marinwood Fire Department Story.
I was shocked today at the above story about the Marinwood Fire department kitchen for its glaring omissions that were undoubtedly missed by Mr. Klein through the careful presentation of the story by Marinwood CSD staff and board members. It completely glosses over the glaring incompetence and indecision of the board and unethical and likely illegal contract practices.
I have filmed each meeting of the Marinwood CSD and can prove the following.
1.) A "mold emergency" was discovered by Chief Roach in February 2017 which resulted in gutting the firehouse kitchen. Chief Roach had assumed that the mold was toxic BEFORE taking aggressive mediation. Most people would have use a bucket of warm water and bleach first.
2.) Once the kitchen was gutted, the Chief requested an aggressive/expensive remodeling with luxury appliances, stone countertops, etc. He received a bid of $24,999, just a dollar less the amount required for government contract law to pay prevailing wages. Looking at the bid, the public and a few board members remarked that the job could be done cheaper and a designer was hired to make a estimate. Indeed, low end cabinetry would have cost the district about $5000 and could be installed in a matter of weeks.
A PRIVATE donation for the $25,000 was offered and REJECTED by the Marinwood CSD and Firefighters. They wanted a better kitchen. It would have been FREE to the taxpayers. Eric Dreikosen claimed they could not accept a donation for the kitchen because it was not prevailing wages.
3.) The fire department was displeased with the FREE Kitichen and insisted on high end luxury appliances, custom cabinetry, and moving plumbing and electrical which added tens of thousands to the cost. One firefighter board member boasted that his oven cost $5000 and the firefighters deserve the same quality.
4.) The general manager, Eric Dreikosen, made the inaccurate claim that the job MUST meet government PREVAILING WAGE contracting law and only qualified contractors could bid. The prevailing wage law is only required for contracts more than $25,000. The cost escalated to $85.000 to $118,000 BUT APPLIANCES WERE EXTRA. The bids included work such as "soffit removal" when there wasn't any soffits to remove. The bids was hastily written and totally inflated.
5.) Next the board reduced the specifications. No stone countertops, stock cabinetry, etc and STILL the cheapest bid was $67k but the bidder dropped out.
6.) The Chief and a board member personally knew the contractor from neighboring fire department and previous work. They negotiated PRIVATELY with a personal friend in violation of Government Contract Law.
7.) After warning from the district lawyers, they finally put a bid out to the public and received meager response. Again the board tried to privately negotiate in violation of public bidding process.
8.) Finally, the board agreed to $87k but the Chief assured the board that he has a personal relationship with the contractor and "everything will be okay"
9.) In today's Marin IJ, Leah Kleinman-Green proclaims "we will pay whatever it takes" to complete the job in an outrageous disregard of her fiduciary duty to Marinwood CSD taxpayers.
Marinwood taxpayers have been screwed. There was never a "prevailing wage" requirement for a small $25,000 cabinet and countertop replacement. They would have been installed in a few weeks. Quality appliances suitable for our three man crews could be had for a few thousand dollars.
This story is about feckless mismanagement, indecision, possible bid rigging and collusion and massive waste of time and resources.
Our firefighters deserve better. The public deserves better. The resources should be directed to pay the arrears on our pension obligations not wasting it on mismanaged projects and legal liabilities.
I can provide FULL video of the meetings, the admissions of ignoring government contract law REPEATEDLY, ignorance of the law, collusion with bidders, the knowledge of more competitive alternatives, the offer and rejection of the private donation and misquoting numerous laws.
I ask that a rebuttal or retraction of the story in light of the missing information in the Marinwood Kitchen fiasco.
Editor"s Note: Neither the Marin IJ editor Robert Sterling or the writer Gary Klein, even gave a courtesy response. The sad truth is that the Marin IJ will seldom tackle controversy unless it is to attack its perceived enemies. The only truth about Marin politics is published by citizen journalists. What a sad state of affairs for the county and the Marin IJ.