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July 13, 2024

Is the Fox Guarding the Hen House?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On August 14, 2012

Does anyone remember the nursery rhyme: ‘Sleep, my little one, sleep, Thy father guards the sheep’.  Is the Fox guarding the Hen House?

“The hen-house is based on the American farmer who, like a Pinoy farmer, keeps the hens separated from the roosters so you can have unfertilized eggs for breakfast or recipes. The American farmer long had issues with the red fox as the fox would find its way into snatching a chicken as an easy meal. So the fences went up around the hen-house to both keep the hens in and the roosters and the foxes out. Obviously as any farmer anywhere could easily figure out, you don’t allow the fox into the hen-house or chicken coup as you won’t have any chickens left. If you didn’t guard the hen-house, that would be foolish. Allowing the fox to go in on purpose would just be stupid.”

“Hence the phrase of letting the “fox in the hen-house” means that you are purposefully doing something very stupid and very destructive to your best interests. It still holds that meaning today but sometimes another phrase comes in. Stupid is as stupid does. If people do not look out for themselves and stay on guard or if they get lazy, people willing to do whatever they want or are told to do will make stupid decisions in the place of those they represent.” Fox in the Hen House

“Don’t assign a job to someone who will then be in a position to exploit it for his own ends.” Phrase Finder

While researching bids, contracts, and a massive money trail from both the Clark Edgar Rural Water District and the city of Paris a common denominator kept popping up, Francis Associates and Bob Colvin.

During the last CERWD I asked Mr. Colvin which hat he was wearing during a discussion with a disgruntled water district future customer.  He informed me he was the Engineer for the Water District.  

Even more interesting is not only have we found contracts signed by Bob Colvin on the line ENGINEER we also have documents signed by the CERWD Chairman, Tom Jones, stating: “Please do not hesitate to contact me, the Water Districts Consulting Engineer Bob Colvin, ….”

 How does a man who is not an engineer become a consulting Engineer for a water district and the City of Paris?

This eight e-mail exchange with the City of Paris was rather telling.

Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 5:01 PM
Can you tell me who the Public Works Director is for the City of Paris?

Received: July 05, 2012 7:30 AM
The City no longer has the position of Public Works Director

Sent: Friday, July 06, 2012 3:45 PM
Can you tell me who it was when you did have the position?

Received: Friday, July 06, 2012 4:22 PM
David Trowbridge was the Director of Public Property.

(Note that Director of Public Property IS NOT Public Works Director!)

Sent: Saturday, July 07, 2012 1:19 PM
Who is in charge of engineering and technical decisions on behalf of the city of Paris?   

Received: Monday, July 09, 2012 2:32 PM
All decisions are made by the City Council based on recommendations/advice of the City Engineer and/or project engineer.

Sent: Monday, July 09, 2012 2:44 PM
Who is the City Engineer and/or project engineer?

Received: Monday, July 09, 2012 3:41 PM                                                               
The City Consulting Engineer is Bob Colvin.  The Project Engineer would be the firm that was awarded the bid for any infrastructure project for the City.

Whose interest does he represent, the City of Paris or his company Francis Associates who has received $3,223,526.74 from the City of Paris over the last 10 years?  We know based on our FOIA they have never had to compete for a bid to earn that opportunity?  He advises the board on what they need to do, and then he is in charge of getting it done as their Consulting Engineer, of which they pay him quite nicely for.  An average of $322, 352.67 dollars a year!  (Copy of Payments from the City of Paris to Francis Associates)

So whose interest does he represent, the water district or his company, Francis Associates, who has received $2,185,977.40 from the CERWD over the last 10 years, which again we know from the records in hand has never had to compete for a bid to earn that opportunity?  This averages out to $218,597.74 dollars a year!

 Francis Associates annual average based on ten years of payments:

$540,950.41 Dollars Annually!

How does a person keep the best interest of the public body in check when they are advising the public body on what to do which directly puts more money in their own pocket? 

Everyone remember the work camp north of town?  Commonly called the Ed-Plex? You know, that complex north of the City that cost millions to build and then they used Grant money (our tax dollars) to tear it down? 

Any idea what the people of Paris paid Francis Associates for projects around that facility, to include ENGINEERING plans for DEMOLITION?


 Demo Plans – Original

 More Demo Engineering Plans

Why wouldn’t the city hire a full-time Public Works Director (Engineer) and pay them a reasonable salary ($75,000.00 a year) and save the City tax Payers $247,000.00 dollars a year on average.  What could the city do with an extra $247,000.00? 

Lower Taxes?

Fix some “other” roads?

Why would the CERWD not hire a full-time Engineer and pay them a reasonable salary ($75,000.00 a year) and save the people of the water district $143,597.00 dollars a year on average.  What could they do with that extra cash?

Pay off some of the $22,000,000.00 in Debt? 

 Lower Water Rates?

Connect some customers who have been waiting 20 years for water?

Another interesting common denominator in our research is B&T Drainage, who just happens to show up as pretty much the exclusive business used by the City of Paris and the CERWD.   We are still gathering info from CERWD but we do know the City of Paris has paid them $9,016,327.90 over the last 10 years!  Stay tuned for more on this later.  (COPY OF PAYMENTS TO B&T Drainage)

Is the Fox Guarding the Hen House, or   

Eating the Hens?  



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  • The joker
    Posted at 21:20h, 14 August Reply

    Keep up the good work! get rid of this scum!

  • Joe Citizen
    Posted at 15:10h, 16 August Reply

    Some of the work you guys are doing is great – like uncovering the fraud in
    the Dept of Health, at the Transit District, and in the 911 expenditures,
    but then some of just seems like nitpicking. Yes, Bob Colvin is not a registered
    engineer, but he is a registered land surveyor. His company employs multiple
    registered engineers and does engineering and surveying work. People associate
    Bob Colvin with Francis & Associates as he is the principal owner and face
    of the company. Paris is a small town and I think people get lazy and use Bob
    Colvin / Francis Associates interchangeably. You try to make it sound like Colvin
    pocketed all the money paid to Francis Associates, but neglect to consider the
    fact that there are many people on staff there, who I’m sure don’t work for free.
    You obviously think that the City could have done all the Francis Associates does
    by just hiring one engineer out of college. I don’t think the savings you claim
    would be there would actually be there. A city engineer would still have to hire
    out the land surveying, staking, etc. because it would be more than one person could
    handle. Not to mention having to hiring draftsmen to draw up plans and such. Using
    Francis Associates is a logical choice as they are a local company which employs
    local people.

    • jr
      Posted at 00:28h, 20 August Reply

      You would have to be a complete imbecile to buy into that!!!!!!
      The people of Paris and Edgar County deserve a good explanation
      from the Board for squandering their monies in such a disgusting
      attempt at stewardship!! They all need to re-sign if we all did
      what they’re doing Paris would cease to exist!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Give us a break
    Posted at 15:53h, 16 August Reply

    What you read into the article is just that. Nothing these guys
    said was wrong as they provided the paper trail. Bob Colvin,
    as you state is supposadly the principal owner of Francis &
    Associates. Thats who they report all the money being paid
    to isnt it? Is someone feeling guilty here?

    You are right, he is not an engineer yet he tells people
    he is. What does that make him?

    People in this town suffering with low wadges and this
    guy lives like a King off the Taxpayer dime! Those blindly
    paying him should be held accountable!

  • Kirk Allen
    Posted at 21:55h, 16 August Reply

    Joe Citizen,
    Sorry you missed the point of the information.
    Our public bodies are suppose to be working
    overtime protecting our tax dollars and part of
    that process is ensuring we get the most bang
    for our buck. That is NOT happening when you
    NEVER have a competitive bid.

    As far as nitpicking, $5.4 Million Dollars is
    hardly nitpicking! Thats a lot of tax dollars
    for one company with no competitive bids. Care
    to tell us why on earth we need to hire an engineer
    to cut a tree down? Or open and close water line
    valves? All are projects that an averge city
    worker does all over the country but in Paris we
    pay big money to have Francis Associates do it.
    That is not good stewardship of our tax dollars in
    my opinion. Please prove me wrong!

    Logical choice? How is it logical to NEVER have a
    competitive bid for an Engineer in the City of Paris?
    Please, explain to us how not having bids would be logical?

    This is bigger than just Bob Colvin and his capitalizing
    on the stupidity of our public bodies. This is about
    our public officials failing to be proper stewards
    of our tax dollars.

    Rest assured this is just the begining of LOTS of
    other peices of the puzzle that are sickening.

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