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Keizer poised to award quarter-million dollar contract to sitting City Councilor.
Remodeling by Classic Homes, owned by city councilor Kyle Juran, set to receive $246,944 project
Keizer City Council is scheduled to vote on June 20 to approve a nearly quarter million dollar contract awarded to one of its own members.
The construction project, described in council agenda documents (starting on page 29), “includes repair to the trellis structures over the City Hall employee break area patio and the Police Department break area patio.”
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In a memo to City Councilors that contained the proposed motion, Keizer City Manager Adam Brown explained that Juran’s company was hand-picked by staff - in this case, Keizer’s Public Works Director - after a formal bidding process was unsuccessful. From the memo:
“Staff solicited bids through the formal bid process to repair the Civic Center Trellises. No bids were received through this process. Staff then contacted local contractors in an effort to find a company willing to perform the work. Remodeling by Classic Homes Inc. was the only contractor that showed interest in the project and submitted a bid in the amount of $246,944.25.”
The project would replace the exposed parts of the aging wooden trellis with metal parts, less susceptible to the wear & tear of weather.
Based on his website, Juran’s Remodeling By Classic Homes, Inc, has no prior experience with work like this - most of their portfolio is private, residential home building or remodeling.
A quick Google Search shows there are more than a dozen construction companies and contractors in Keizer that fit a similar frame of experience and past work as Juran’s company. Remodeling By Classic Homes isn’t even the top-rated construction firm in Keizer measured by Google reviews. Even a quick perusal of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce membership directory shows several alternatives to the company owned by a sitting City Council member.
(Ed. note - This isn’t meant to disparage Juran’s company or skill. Many people seemed thrilled with his work. The purpose is to point out there were other similarly or even more qualified companies in the Keizer area.
Also, this isn’t meant to disparage any particular trellis, much less the trellis in question, nor the city workers who hang out under it.)
But maybe Juran’s company really is the only construction firm in the area that can handle this work. It’s possible, right?
But is it likely?
The answers to those questions aren’t really the point. The point is that this situation demands that you even ask these questions, and more. For example:
Is the imminent danger or risk of not replacing portions of this trellis so great that the city can’t issue another solicitation for bids? Maybe using different tactics that actually reach the audience?
How did the Public Works Director decide who to contact after the bidding process was deemed a failure? What is the definition of “willing and able” that was used to determine the qualification of a construction company?
The resolution being considered during the June 20 City Council meeting states “Remodeling by Classic Homes, Inc. was the only contractor that showed interest in the project…” What does “showed interest” mean?
Maybe these questions are a little nit-picky? But we’re talking about nearly $250k in public funds being spent with a sitting City Councilor, and the paperwork being presented by Keizer officials to support this proposal doesn’t even mention the blatant conflict of interest.
After all, the abbreviated rationale given for awarding this quarter-million dollar contract to a sitting City Council member basically boils down to: *shrug* “We couldn't find anyone else to take this $250k contract.”
Even if it takes extra work and effort, local government should avoid these types of obviously conflicted relationships with their own elected officials.
And while Keizer’s ruling class shows a clear pattern of effort to retain and control civic power, it’s never too late for them to show some actual character and commitment to fairness.
Handing over a $250k contract to your colleague & friend is not leadership. It’s political patronage.
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