College of DuPage

COD – Category 3 “Herricane” and growing! (UPDATED!)

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

It is becoming very clear a pattern of pay to play and self dealing is taking place between COD and Foundation Board Member owned businesses, and you don’t have to be a procurement specialist to see it!  The pattern supports a failure in the internal controls and by all indications lies are being told to downplay the concern.

  •  June 29, 2011 the Architect (Hurricane Graphics) provides COD a Proposal (still waiting for a copy from COD)

To date COD has not provided a copy of any request for proposals, yet a contract issued to Herricane Graphics cites a proposal was provided?  Why would one be provided if they never asked for one?  (Click here for the FOIA response and here for what was provided)

Note the Board Approval Document exposes an internal control failure. On the first page of the document it outlines twice, a contract amount of $90,340.00.  Now look at the signature page where Breuder and his team sign their request for approval from the board.  The signed record reflects a dollar figure of $85,340.00?

So what was the contract really for?  The signed request of $85,340.00 or $90.340.00?  According to the board minutes provided they went with the higher number.  I could not find any questions asked pertaining to the conflict of the signed request being lower than the board approved higher number. (Click here for the board minutes approving the higher dollar figure.)

  • April 19, 2012  COD issues no bid contract with an Architect that is not an architect but is a COD Foundation Board member.  Article 1.1 of the contract “For the avoidance of doubt the Initial Information includes the information on Architect’s proposal to Owner.dated June 29. 2011” (see contract here)

COD has not produced a single document that an RFP or Bid was ever established for the above mentioned contract yet they reference one being provided.  

“For the avoidance of doubt”?

What on earth are they referring to with that statement?  Why on earth would anyone have a reason to doubt anything in this contract?  Was this a case of they knew Herricane Graphics was not an Architect so just put a statement like that in there to offer assurance to keep people from questioning it?

  • Herricane Graphics is in charge of the contract and responsible for all the bidding pertaining to the multiple projects listed in the contract.

In an email chain between foundation board members, Breuder, and Trustee McGuire, we find Breuder is providing assurance to McGuire that they are doing things properly. (Click here for the e-mails)

  • “if one of these providers wants to do some of the actual construction for example, they must compete for the work. They must satisfy standards set by the State. Their Foundation connection does not get them a pass.   Herricane Graphics has done some of the sign design, fabrication and installation. We may contract with them as a service provider to design the signs and prepare the bid specs; however, if they were to have interest in the fabrication and installation, all things being equal, they must competitively bid like anyone else.

“They must competitively bid like anyone else!”

If Breuder is to be taken at his word I wonder how he is going to explain this set of words buried in board approval documents?

“The initial contract was for design only. Herricane was the successful contractor for installation as well.” (Click here for the BAD containing the above information)

If Herricane was the successful contractor for installation on top of the design work then they MUST competitively bid like anyone else just as Breuder claimed!

I specifically asked for copies of all announcements for bids on the projects performed by Hurricane Graphics during the last 5 years as well as for copies of all bid’ s received for the above referenced projects. (Click here for the FOIA request)

They provided a response but there is a rather large problem for COD, Breuder, and his Senior Management team.  There were no bids provided in my request for any HEC 911 Signage nor any bid award recommendations for such.  So in short, the board approved the HEC 911 Signage for $14,159.00 to Herricane Graphics even though no actual bid was requested or submitted, based on the responsive records in my FOIA request.

So why are there no bids for the above referenced “successful contractor for installation” considering Breuder’s own words stated as a matter of fact, “if they were to have interest in the fabrication and installation, all things being equal, they must competitively bid like anyone else.”

Or is this a case that since it was under the $25,000 dollar limit set by statute they simply didn’t bid it out which means Breuder was not telling the “whole” story to trustee McGuire?

Or,  does Article 3.4.3 of the contract tell the WHOLE STORY on this deal? This statement in the contract, page 8, is LINED OUT!  Thus, the Architect who is not an Architect is in full control of all the bidding without any review by COD? (see contract here)

THE ARCHITECT AND CONSTRUCTION MANAGER SHALL SUBMIT TO OWNER AND TO OWNER’S ATTORNEY FOR REVIEW AND APPROVAL ALL AGREEMENTS AND CONDITIONS PREPARED FOR SUBMISSION TO BIDDERS THIRTY (30) DAYS PRIOR TO RELEASE OF BIDDING INFORMATION. BIDS FORMS SHALL BE SUBMITTED FOR REVIEW THIRTY DAYS (30) PRIOR TO RELEASE OF BIDDING INFORMATION.

I challenge EVERYONE to look through all the files they provided and tell me if you find an HEC-911 project related bid of any kind!   (Click here to review all bid information for projects handled by Herricane Graphics for the last 5 years)

Is this a clear example of a total failure in internal controls?  Or is this an example of exactly what our tipster informed us about?  Special favors to Foundation Board members regardless of the cost?

Not convinced there is a problem?  Let’s bring things back to the beginning before there was ever a contract with Herricane Graphics. Before you can have a contract you have to have a need, and in this case a need for a Design Consultant, which is what they referred to Herricane Graphics as.

Thus, another FOIA!   I asked for a copy of all bid notices, publications, announcements, and any other documentation that COD was seeking the hiring of a Design Consultant. (See FOIA request here)

The response was amazing! 

They sent me one document!  The Board Approval Document request for the contract award! So one must ask, at what point did they come to the conclusion that this person was the one who was going to get this contract that had neither any RFP or Bidding and why?

Let’s recap to keep this simple:

  • COD gets a magical itch to contract with none other than a COD Foundation Board member’s business, Herricane Graphics.  Magical because there is no record of them ever letting anyone know they were seeking a Graphics Designer!
  • The contract names them as an Architect, which they are not.
  • COD has no insurance records for Herricane Graphics even though they were required to submit them as proof of coverage.
  • The contract figures signed by the Breuder team is for one price, the board approves a different price, and she is paid a small fortune above and beyond both those prices!
  • Herricane Graphics is in charge of all the bidding for the projects listed in the contract and is the contact for any of the projects in that contract. No COD Over Site!
  • Records reflect she actually was bidding on projects of which she was in control of.  How does that work? 
  • No bidding records produced for a project in which she was not only the contracted designer, but also the successful contractor for installation as wellSuccessful based on what?
  • To date, Herricane Graphics has been paid $570,427.47 according to current records, which includes another no bid construction contract she was awarded in 2014 (more on that to come!).
  • Breuder lies to Trustee McGuire, or COD lied to me! If they did bid this out as he said must be done, then they lied to me by not providing any records. If they did not bid this out, which is what the record supports, he lied to the Trustee in his e-mail.
  • He claimed if Herricane were to have interest in the fabrication and installation, all things being equal, they must competitively bid like anyone else.”

“All things being equal!

That must be it!

All things were not equal so they did not have to bid this out in his mind!  Nope, they were not equal because this was a Foundation Member!

You be the Judge!

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