You’d think that North Haven’s town government would have enough of scandals, that it would steer clear of doing business with contractors who are in trouble with the law.
In early May, I wrote a blog entry about the Maguire Group, which has been sued by the CT Attorney General for not doing the inspection work the state contracted it to do on Interstate 84, and allowing enormous cost overruns. The incident was so serious, it led to a reorganization of the Department of Transportation.
But in North Haven, it’s business as usual. As usual. Not only is the Maguire Group involved with the Sackett Point Bridge project, but now (according to yesterday's Register) it’s been hired by North Haven as the sewer consultant on the Pratt and Whitney/Rabina project (Maguire Group was engaged through the North Haven firm that has been providing general engineering services to the town, Diversified Technology Services, and will be reimbursed by Rabina Properties, but these are technicalties: it is the town's consultant).
It just so happens that four Maguire Group employees donated to the Kopetz for First Selectman campaign this year: John Treichel (VP, but listed as "engineer"), Alan Asikainen (VP of the water resources division, but listed as "engineer"), James Fritz (executive VP, but listed as "engineer"), and Sebastian Amenta (VP, but listed as "engineer"). None lives in North Haven. Each gave $250, a sizeable amount for a local candidate.
And a court found, many years ago, that Sebastian Amenta, one of the contributing Maguire VPs, had bribed the Meriden City Manager, who was convicted (see U.S. v Aldi, No. 95-1446 (2d Cir.)).
What was involved? Here’s what the court said: "Aldi [the city manager] was given these payments by Sebastian Amenta of the Maguire Group, an engineering company. In return, Aldi awarded contracts to the Maguire Group in violation of city procedures for selecting contractors." Not what we want here in North Haven, that's for sure.
So, four out-of-town vice presidents gave to the Kopetz campaign and, despite the serious scandal at the state level that has been featured on the front page of the Register several times (like the Ierardis), the Maguire Group got another contract with North Haven.
Was it competitively bid? Was the hiring of Maguire Group through another company a way to get around the Charter's bidding requirements? Did the procurement chief – Kevin Kopetz – take into account the company’s failure to do its work on the I-84 project? Did he think we'd never learn that he was taking a contribution from someone who had bribed in order to get contracts?
And then there’s John’s Refuse Service. I have no reason to believe that our recycling contractor has done anything short of an excellent job in North Haven and elsewhere. But almost a year ago, according to an FBI press release, its principal, Dennis Bozzuto, pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge: "he conspired to perpetuate a system, commonly called the ‘property rights system.’ Carters engaged in the property rights system would not service or compete for other carters’ customers. The property rights system essentially destroys free enterprise, allowing the participating carters to artificially inflate their prices and leaving waste removal customers with no other options."
Artificial inflation of prices. That means North Haven was probably paying more than we should have. According to the Register, the state has decided not to work with John’s Refuse anymore. Has North Haven even put the contract out to bid again, to make sure we’re getting a good price (even from John's Refuse), not an artificially inflated price?
I would like to be able to say that Kevin Kopetz is just asleep at the wheel. But he has taken so many contributions from contractors, that it doesn’t look good for him. It looks like his personal interest in getting re-elected takes precedence over the town’s interests in getting the best prices from its contractors.