The Denver Post ran an investigative report this morning in the Sunday paper on the Adams County Commissioners and how one county commissioner could be giving friends and relatives an unfair advantage. I want to thank the Denver Post for this article and how it has exposed wasted and nepotism among the county leadership. As a resident of Adams County, I am really frustrated how our money is being wasted by our elected leaders.
This story focuses on Alice Nichol, the county commissioner for District 2 in Adams County.
In the Post's article, they found:
- Three of Nichol's relatives, including her husband, sit on the county Board of Adjustment, which hears appeals from developers seeking variances from county ordinances.
- The county's public works director hired a second son-in-law of Nichol's as a zoning inspector in 2007. The son-in-law quit four months later.
- A longtime family acquaintance who once worked as Ron Nichol's supervisor is the dominant consultant for people with business before county boards, including the Board of Adjustment.
- Nichol steered a $1.6 million furniture contract for the new county administration building to a fellow board member at Adams County Economic Development Corp. — a contract that has already mushroomed to nearly $2.3 million.
- One of her daughters, Ronda Reagon, is a "business support specialist" at the Adams County Economic Development Corp., which received $576,064 from county taxpayers last year.
- In her two campaigns for county commissioner, Nichol paid nearly $17,000 to four family members. The main beneficiary was her daughter Renee Stark, who received $15,338 for work ranging from developing brochures and ads to "reimbursements and media."
This is just an absurdity and shows that changes need to be made in Adams County.
The perfect example of how bad the business practices are is the awarding of the furniture contract to OfficeScapes. The county staff put together a bid to supply office furniture for the new county administration building.
This specifications for the contract called for wood veneer furniture. A five member staff committee reviewed the proposals and recommended that the contract be awarded to Citron Workspaces, who met the specifications. They were the most cost-effective and flexible to fulfill the contract.
But two county commissioners led by Nichol disagreed. They felt another bid from OfficeScapes would be better. The problem is that they did not meet the specifications and were ranked lowest by the staff members.
Nichol wanted to save money and said they could do whatever they wanted, including ignoring the recommendations of the staff and specifications and awarded it to whomever they wanted to.
The county commissioner's, pushed by Nichol, on a 2-1 vote awarded a $1.6 million contract that has now ballooned to $2.3 million to OfficeScapes. The problem is that Nichol is friends and serves on the Adams County Economic Development Board of Directors with OfficeScapes owner Bob Deibel.
OfficeScapes proposal called for laminate desks that were smaller in their bid and saved the county $500,000. I don't have a problem with the county saving taxpayer dollars, but having several companies compete on the bid with the same specs would be a better way to spend taxpayer money.
If the County Commissioners wanted to have a better say in the process, approve the specifications and then see how the contract falls. Don't let the staff of the county spend time and effort to develop specifications for a contract, develop a recommendation, only to shoot it down because the commissioners don't like who you selected.
If the practice continues as is, the county won't receive bids from companies and they'll have to spend more. Companies need to know they are on equal footing and have a chance for a contract, not at a disadvantage because they are not friends or relatives of one of the county commissioners.
As residents of Adams County, we need to stand up and say enough is enough with these poor business practices. Since my county commissioner is new, I hope Erik Hansen can work to change these horrible business practices for the better.