Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Remember what I said a few weeks ago?

Something about back-room deals with construction folks and bonding companies if this new one percent sales tax increase passed?

Langford looking for discounts

Larry Langford is making deals.


Jefferson County's locomotive of a commission president already has hand-picked the companies he wants to design and manage his billion dollar school construction program.

The deals were in the works even before the County Commission voted 3-2 last week to pass Langford's 1 cent [sic] sales tax increase.

Gee, imagine that.

But for those businesses, which stand to make millions from the bond issue, the silver lining of their pockets may have a cloud.

Langford wants them all - bond lawyers and underwriters, architects, a program manager, printers and various other companies - to work at a discount. He wants them to work for as much as half off.

No contracts have been approved for the jobs, though announcements should come soon. Professional services such as program managers and architects do not have to be bid.

True, professional services don't have to bid based on fee. The general idea is that services are based upon experience and professionalism, and a lower fee may or may not be indicative of the level of service rendered. HOWEVER, even professional services contracts, especially those for which hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, usually go through some sort of open, objective, public vetting process prior to the contracts being awarded.

Langford and the county are negotiating with general contracting giant Brasfield & Gorrie to manage the whole construction program. He wants Giattina Fisher Aycock to handle the architectural work, and is negotiating with bond lawyers and underwriters to handle that part of the deal.

Joseph Giattina, president of Giattina Fisher Aycock, said Langford's demand was serious.

"He's gone to companies with real commitment to this community and he's asking people to put a lot on the line," Giattina said. "We're going to work to see if we can't do something." [...]

Well, see, I would be kinda worried about someone working to see if something CAN'T be done. Then again, maybe inaction is for the best...

Langford said the county hopes to keep total spending on bond-related fees as low as $7 million, though other county officials said $10 million may be more realistic. Critics believe they will run much, much higher.

[Brasfield and Gorrie's Alan] Weeks said a similar project in Mobile paid a program manager 3.5 to 4 percent. At that rate, a billion dollar program would cost Jefferson County $35 million to $40 million.

And last year when the county issued more than a billion dollars in sewer warrants, it paid an underwriter's fee of $5 for every $1,000 issued, for a fee of $5.2 million. In 2002, the county paid $17.1 million to borrow $475 million.

It adds up. But Langford is optimistic.

"We're going to ask for the same amount of work for half the cost," Langford said. [...]

Yeah, good luck on that, Sparky.

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