A letter sent to the Media from Timothy Stabosz La Porte County Auditor in regards to the Franklin Street Bridge in Michigan City.
For more information and questions or additonal documentation feel free to call or email Tim Stabosz direct.
Dear Members of the Media:
As the Auditor of La Porte County, I’m taking time away from my vacation in TN, after hearing about the dismaying and disconcerting goings on at this past evening’s Commission meeting, to forward to you the letter that our County received from the SBOA regarding Attorney Shaw Friedman’s inappropriate and illegal attempt to use the so-called “Special Purchase Statute” to prod the La Porte County Commission to approve a $1.5 million “no bid” contract for repair of the Franklin Street Bridge. I want to be clear: It doesn’t matter how much all of us, including myself, love the people at Marquiss Electric, and how incredibly giving, and selfless, and community minded they are, and have been, and how they have dedicated themselves to responding at all hours of the day to keep that bridge operating, for the safety and convenience of the people of Michigan City, any time that bridge is “stuck in the open position,” or any other problems it has had.
It is important to realize that the law is the law, and the attached memo from SBOA is very clear. 1) Per IC 36-1-12, the repair of any bridge is defined as a “public works project.” There is no escaping that. And 2) Per IC 5-22-1-3(a)(2), it specifically states that the Special Purchase Statute does NOT apply to, and cannot be used for, public works projects. Case closed.
The willingness of La Porte County Commissioners Sheila Matias and Rich Mrozinski, along with their chosen Attorney, Shaw Friedman, to essentially mock the SBOA last night, and despite the very clear cut interpretation of state law given, seek to pursue a course that involves defying the State of Indiana, that oversees and audits MY office, and whether I am paying bills legally and properly, is astonishing to me. I want to be very clear that I will not be part of any sham process that seeks to skirt state law, under the manipulatory notion that somehow, the process of following the legally mandated course of seeking bids is going to result in dramatically HIGHER costs. Over the long run, the laws requiring bidding for public works projects are intended to PROTECT the taxpaying public, and I simply can’t imagine if a unit of local government flouts those laws, and defies the SBOA, one time, how they wouldn’t be jolly well comfortable doing it whenever they want!
Please read the attached letter, and how the SBOA points out that the public bidding requirements exist so as “…to safeguard the public against fraud, favoritism, graft, extravagance, improvidence and corruption, and to insure honest competition for the best work or supplies at the lowest reasonable cost.” Considering (building permits evidence that) Commission present Rich Mrozinski has had a garage built for him by Marquiss Electric, that Marquiss is involved in interior renovations of his home, and that his daughter (per her Facebook page) has been given a cleaning contract by Marquiss Electric, it is especially imperative that we have the necessary transparency in this process so that the public can feel secure there is no favoritism being granted.
The continued effort, and willingness by La Porte County Commission Attorney Shaw Friedman, to misinterpret the law and, when slapped down by higher authorities of the State of Indiana, to double down and insist that his interpretation is correct, and have Commissioners Sheila Matias and Rich Mrozinski show a willingness to defy the state authorities, is not a direction that the Auditor of La Porte County is willing to endorse, as it not only illegal and immoral, but it places La Porte County at great legal risk.
The Commissioners should have faced reality, wheeled about, and begun to get the machinery moving for the legally required public bidding process at their meeting last night. In the opinion of the La Porte County Auditor, their unwillingness to do so is a chilling commentary on the integrity of executive authority in La Porte County.
I am available to discuss this with any of you (to the degree I have cell service available in sometimes remote parts of TN). My cell is 219-363-7485.
Timothy Stabosz
La Porte County Auditor
555 Michigan Avenue, Suite 205