Wednesday, May 31, 2017
John Brown Awards $72,000 No-Bid Contract For New NorCo Jail
According to Brown's order, "The master plan will not be site specific, but rather the development of a concept based on the Lexington / Fayette County (KY) Detention Center plans which are owned by DLR Group and are considered the best design concept of all centers visited by the Director of Corrections."
Brown's Executive Order claims that his deal with DLR is a "sole source," or no-bid, contract. This way he can avoid the competitive bidding that would otherwise be required under the county's Administrative Code. Brown can argue that DLR is the only outfit in the universe that can give him a prison plan. But that's nonsense.There are numerous prison design firms besides DLR.
DLR Group is actually the nation's largest architectural firm, with offices all over the globe. It designed the first federal "supermax" prison in Colorado, known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies." But there are numerous other national lnown architectural firms that design prisons, including Arrington Watkins, KMD and SchenkelSchultz of Gitmo fame. There are also numerous local architectural firms.
Brown by-passed them all, in apparent violation of the Administrative Code. This may very well be intentional. This is an election year, and four council members up for re-election may very well want to be able to deny they had anything to do with what could end up being a politically unpopular prison deal. What makes this even more troubling is that this already is literally the ultimate captive market.
The contract amount - $72,000 - is below the $100,000 threshold required for Council approval. But Brown is required to notify them. They could stop this in its tracks when they meet on Thursday night because Brown has violated the Home Rule Charter by failing to seek competitive bids.
Are the courts on board? Have alternatives to reduce incarceration been discussed? What does the DA think? I would think Brown would want those questions answered before spending $72,000 of taxpayer money to a nonlocal firm and without seeking proposals. .
This $72,000 is just a first step, the equivalent of sticking your big toe in a pool. The ultimate cost of either an expansion or a new prison is estimated at $128 to $136 million.
It could be in Nazareth. It could stay in Easton. It will certainly mean a tax hike.