That settles it… in a cowardly fashion

I’m reconsidering a previous position.

In his email to Ed Cone about the Bryant Electric thing, City Manager Mitch Johnson states…

“…per the contract Bryant had with the City of Greensboro my role was as a third party judge (I know this sounds strange but we had several contracts which stipulated that any disagreement would be heard by the City Manager or his designee and that the City Manager would perform the role as judge and arbitrator of the disagreement). We have since struck this language from contracts.”

But over at Holder’s place there is a document (p1, p2) dated July 26, 2004 which presents the findings of fact which caused inspections head Butch Simmons to initially deny Bryant’s additional claims.  In fact, it was Simmons who was acting as the city manager’s contracturally designated ”third party judge“.  It was only later that Johnson interjected himself as a second “third party judge“.

Simmons issued his findings after a formal hearing on the matter; the very process that was spelled out and agreed to by both parties in the contract documents.  Part of Simmons’ reasoning for the denial of payment was that the City had already paid Bryant $62,054.28 for extra, unforeseen, work and the fact that his department had documented what reads to me like a list of fraudulent claims by Bryant.

But then something extraordinary happened.Bryant Simmons conversation 1.jpg

In an 8/4/04 phone conversation between Bryant’s Billy Privette and Simmons (click on image), Privette asked for another hearing despite having previously agreed to abide by the decision of the City Manager’s “designee”  This time Privette wanted a meeting with then-city manager Ed Kitchen.  Simmons said that no additional hearings would be forthcoming.  Privette then intimated that he was going to sue the city.

Bryant 1.jpgA letter was subsequently sent from the City Attorney’s office outlining, in no uncertain terms, why Bryant 2.jpgthey agreed with Butch Simmons’ findings.  But in the last paragraph of page 2, it appears that even our legal department was overruled.

In the Cone email, Johnson denies that he “directed the payments” or “manipulated the process” in any way.  But the 08/27/04 follow-up letter (click to enlarge them) from the city attorney’s office to Bryant suggests otherwise, “…Assistant City Manager Mitch Johnson has indicated he will conduct a re-hearing of the matter…”  That re-hearing was to have occurred five days later but according to the document Johnson references over at Cone’s, a final settlement was not completed for City Council approval until May of ’05.  It was because of Johnson’s hearing – that second, extra-contractual hearing – that resulted in Greensboro’s taxpayers “settling” for over $340,000.

I’ve learned something here: The city will do anything it can to avoid a lawsuit.  Even when it is completely in the right.

I don’t know how much it costs to litigate a case such as the Bryant matter, but probably a lot less than the $344K+ we paid to get them to go away.  I hope that in the future our city will grow a backbone and refuse to be pushed around simply because someone threatens a lawsuit.  Especially when, by all the evidence I have seen in this case, we could have easily won the suit.

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  1. Posted February 11, 2007 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I will wait for all the information.

    I believe if Sandy felt there was wrong doing she would say so.


  2. Posted February 11, 2007 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Still comin’, ain’t it meb?

  3. Posted February 11, 2007 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    It seems far fetched to me that leadership would make such silly mistakes. …so Yes… I am still waiting for the rest of the story.

  4. Posted February 11, 2007 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    The city will do anything it can to avoid a lawsuit. Even when it is completely in the right.

    not exactly….sometimes they risk court with nothing but a pretend policy

  5. Brenda Bowers
    Posted February 12, 2007 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe this was done to avoid a law suit since Johnson and City Council have blatantly invited mega law suits in the Wray case and continue to add to those who will have grounds to sue by backing the criminals and fools running the GPD. When the first report from Ben came out about over payments I blogged on it and said that “Where I come from padding the bill means KICKBACK. Of course we West Virginians are not considered sophisticated so maybe this simple, easily arrived at and obvious conclusion is wrong.” But you know, I still stand by it and nothing I have read has changed my mind.

    It’s nice to see you finally opening up to the possibility that the powers that be are wrong David. You are however to be commended for your loyalty to people you know and like until the evidence becomes overwhelming. I would like someone like you in my corner if I were in trouble. BB

  6. Posted February 12, 2007 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I want BB in my corner…smile

One Trackback

  1. [...] I think Willow Oaks could have been handled better, but I don’t think Johnson or Simmons made mistakes that rise to the level of impeachment.  Same with the Bryant Electric flare up.  It was a complicated project bid under 6 year-old plans.  Bryant mishandled (to put it lightly) some things and the City Manager acknowledged flaws in the way the city documented the scope of the project.  A settlement had to be reached and it was.  Bryant will not be doing anymore bidding because they are out of business. [...]