Will Co. (ECWd)-
The Joliet Township held their regular board meeting Tuesday night and even though we have been exposing no-bid contracts and outlining such action is not proper, Supervisor Vera once again awards yet another no-bid contract, all while the new attorney sits silent.
For those just joining this series on Joliet Township, we encourage you read the numerous articles, of which all began after the CBS story on Vera's his actions. We also understand a criminal investigation has begun regarding his actions, rightfully so in our opinion.
Let this one sink in!
November 13, 2019, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Township:
- A copy of all bid publications for Health insurance for Township employees and officials in the last 5 years.
Now for most public officials they would look at that request and realize we are asking for something that should, in fact, be in the possession of the Township. The reason being, Health Insurance is costing the Township more than $20,000.00, thus it is subject to bidding.
If it had not been bid out you would think someone would have questioned whether or not it needed to be bid out. If such a question was asked, we must assume the answer was it was not required because we have never bid it out or they were told it is a professional service and not required.
From the agenda for the November 19, 2019 meeting: "Approve/Annual Policy Renewal/Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance"
Sure enough the board approved the action, but the telling part in this was the comment from the vendor on his way out. I asked him directly, were you guys the winning bidder for the health insurance? He responded with "we had been" . I again asked; so this one you guys won the bid on? The response told me what I needed to know as my FOIA response had not been provided yet; "well I don't know, we are the incumbent." (watch/listen to it here)
Any vendor who places a bid is going to know they did so, especially if the business was awarded to you. The fact this vendor did not know if he won the bid tells me he never submitted a bid. Laughable is the incumbent comment as if the fact you had the business before is supposed to mean something.
My FOIA response the day after the meeting was most telling.
"A copy of all bid publications for Health insurance for Township employees and officials in the last 5 years. – no documents"
So once again, Joliet Township awards business on a no-bid basis even when the value of that service exceeds the threshold for bidding obligation.
The attorney sat silent during this action, to our surprise. While we do not know if any actual legal advice was given, we are going to share what the Attorney General has said about health insurance and whether or not it qualifies as a professional service or not, which if it did would exempt it form bidding.
We believe, as does the Attorney General, and the Illinois Bar Association lists it on their website (click here or here), that insurance services are not “professional services” and must be let to the lowest responsible bidder.
The Illinois Bar Association website has this Attorney General Opinion:
Informal Opinion No. I-12-006, issued June 14, 2012 – Application of County Competitive Bidding Requirements to the Purchase of Health Care and Liability Insurance
Section 5 1022 of the Counties Code generally requires that all purchases of services, materials, equipment, or supplies in excess of $30,000, other than professional services, must be by a contract let to the lowest, responsible bidder after advertising for bids in a newspaper published within the county. Whether the professional services exception to section 5 1022 applies is determined on the basis of whether the services require a high degree of professional skill or judgment or there is a need for confidence, trust, and belief in the person rendering the services. Neither contracts for insurance coverage nor contracts for insurance broker or agent services involve the provision of services requiring a high degree of professional skill or judgment, nor is there a need for confidence, trust, or belief in the person rendering the services. Accordingly, the competitive bidding requirements of section 5 1022 of the Counties Code apply to securing and renewing health care or liability insurance coverage and the use of designated agents to secure or renew the insurance coverage. 55 ILCS 5/5 1022 (West 2010).
While that information from the Attorney General is directed to the County level of government, the legal analysis is applicable to any unit of government that attempts to claim health insurance is a professional service. It is not and if the value is over $20,000.00 it must be bid when being persued in Township government.
For those wondering if Joliet Township Health Insurance exceeds that limit, look no further than their own web site and note that between the Supervisor, Clerk, Assessor, and the in house accountant, insurance costs exceed $25,000.00.
So once again, Supervisor Vera and his board of trustees have awarded yet another no-bid contract with a vendor in direct contradiction to the law.
Stay tuned for exposure of more no-bid business under the direction of Danial Vera.
And again, we demand his resignation immediately.