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Not that anyone can do anything about it, but I wanted to give you some background about the anti-competitive bidding ordinance that will be passed at the next meeting.  It’s 2014-1, the first new ordinance of 2014, and I know you’re all familiar with it because I’ve published it on these pages twice already.

It’s chocked full of all sorts of ways to disqualify unfavored bidders and I’m sure that those bidders with the resources (or have allies with the resources) will be doing all sorts of opposition research against each other in order to stymy competition.  In this post I will address the clause which I believe is the dead giveaway of the true intent of this ordinance:  “The provision of satisfactory evidence by the bidding entity, is that it provides or participates in an apprenticeship and training program approved and registered with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship & Training….”

Like I pointed out at last Tuesday’s meeting, when I choose a mechanic to fix my car I may consider a number of factors such as how well equipped his shop is, his reputation, or if I’ve used him before, my past experience with him.  Obviously price is a factor too.  But not once have I ever thought hmmm, is this guy educating and training young people so that they can have the opportunity to join the trade?  Please.  I’m having enough trouble educating and training my own kids.  As a matter of fact, I’d be willing to bet that since Karl Benz rolled out his first model in 1886 not one motorist has reqired his mechanic to participate in an apprenticeship program.  So if we don’t require it of those who fix our cars why would we require it of those who fix our roads?

Maybe this is why:

You all know Epic Construction, the company that was the low bidder on the boardwalk but then enjoyed a $2.5 million change order for which we were given three different explanations.  They also won the contract to build the now-cancelled two-story Taylor Pavilion and the public safety building.  What you may not know is that the founder and chairman of Epic, Robert Epifano Sr., sits on the board of trustees of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Training and Education Fund.  He’s also a trustee of the union itself.

OK, but why would we want to help Mr. Epifano and LIUNA?

Perhaps is providing a clue in this story from Dec 23, 2012, a little over one year ago:

Auditor: Sweeney snubbed? Union backs Chris Christie

Al Pacino said it best: “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” But last week’s news had to do with Pocino — as in Ray Pocino, the influential labor leader — not Pacino, as in “The Godfather.”

Pocino, vice president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, endorsed Gov. Chris Christie for re-election — although that’s not the oddest part.

Maggie Moran, head of M Public Affairs and a longtime aide to Democrats, including former Gov. Jon Corzine, has lent her communications and business development expertise to LIUNA and is still a consultant.

“For Maggie, this is business,” a former colleague said. “For the laborers, this is business — totally. It’s not ideological.”

Pocino, incidentally, also sits on the Board of Commissioners of the Patronage Port Authority.  Maybe he’s the one who hired Bill Young for us.

Anyway, if this is true then the mayor’s wife has been working this past year as a consultant for the very union whose training fund would be the main beneficiary of the apprenticeship clause in the new ordinance.  Another big winner of course would be Mr. Epifano who is a trustee of that fund and has already been getting a lot of work here in Belmar.

Coincidence?  Maybe.  But for appearance’s sake I think we should just table this ordinance and  stick with the lowest bidder.

And BTW, how much “training and education” do you need to be a laborer?


  1. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    Stuff you missed:
    There is another Epic connection in Belmar.
    Prior to being a consultant and the business manager in 2012, Colleen Connolly
    worked for NJSDA besides our new engineering firm, Maser, she would have worked with Epic who won bids for the authority.
    Perhaps the apprenticeship is so vital to Epic doing public works contracts is that they are basically a management company and thus manage many subcontrators. Their own employees are millwork and Epic is primarily a company who does interiors. The complete opposite of a construction company with the existing personnel for something as pedestrian as putting Trex on pilings.
    Regarding tthe amended ordinance there are way over 500 municipalities in New Jersey
    only 2 others have passed this type- or .0035%

    Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink
  2. Bid Shaping? wrote:

    Nice work guys, clearly it seems the contract work is being steered to Epic.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

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