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Massachusetts poposes debarment for Callahan Posted by on

The Department of Capital Asset Management in Massachusetts has proposed debarring Callahan, Inc. from bidding or performing any work as a result of their actions in bidding for the contract to build a new Hanover High School.

After submitting their Statement of Qualifications to the town and submitting the lowest bid, it was discovered that Callahan, Inc had taken credit for projects performed by another company in order to qualify to bid in Hanover. Though the Attorney General twice advised the Town to throw out Hanover's bid or rebid the job through an expedited process, the town moved forward with Callahan.

Petitioned by a group of union carpenters living in Hanover, a judge then ordered work on the project to stop pending further consideration of the fraud and Hanover's selecting Callahan. Another judge over-ruled that order, sending the case to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The SJC agreed with the Town's argument that although Callahan clearly lied on the SOQ, the Town was aware of the lies and chose to do business with the company anyway.

DCAM now appears to be saying that even though Hanover has been allowed to work with a contractor that lied about its qualifications, the State of Massachusetts will not allow it again. Unless Callahan asks for an wins an appeal from DCAM, the already tarnished reputation of the company will be formalized.

Bad guys nailed in Mass, Conn Posted by on

Enforcement agencies in Connecticut and Massachusetts this week moved against contractors who have been violating laws in ways that undermine the ability of honest union carpenters and contractors to compete.

The Department of Labor in Connecticut performed a random on-site inspection of an AvalonBay job in Wilton, Connecticut, finding an out of state subcontractor who didn't have workers' compensation coverage. The employees of the company were sent home and will not be allowed to work on the site until they can prove proper coverage.

A representative of AvalonBay told the Norwalk Hour he expected the problem to be remedied soon, but did not indicate how they were able to work on the job without coverage in the first place.

Workers comp coverage should be of significant concern for AvalonBay, given their history in New England. Not long after OSHA had issued a series of citations for serious violations of fall protection regulations on jobs being built for AvalonBay, a 27-year old carpenter named Oscar Pintado fell to his death on an AvalonBay job in Woburn, Mass. He was working for a framing contractor which managed 150 wood framers. All of them, including Pintado, were listed as "independent contractors," meaning they were not covered by workers' compensation. His family was not eligible for any benefits or compensation.

In Massachusetts, the Attorney General's office reached a settlement agreement with Vincent Locke and his company V. Locke Contracting, Inc. over a string of violations for which they will pay a total of $100,000 in fines and restitution to workers.

After receiving a complaint that workers were not being paid the proper prevailing wage, Attorney General Martha Coakley's office began an investigation. Locke and V. Locke agreed to a settlement which cites them for intentionally violating the Prevailing Wage Law by failing to pay the prevailing wage to 35 employees. They are also being cited for violating Prevailing Wage Records Keeping Laws, violating the Independent contractor law by misclassifying employees as independent contractors and violating Overtime Law. Each of the citations cover violations that occurred from January 2008 through the investigation.

Locke and his company have agreed to make payments totaling $90,000 to workers and to pay the state $2,500 for each of the four citations. They will also be debarred from bidding on or performing any public work for a period of six months.

Also yesterday, Coakley's office reported that two subcontractors working on the Hanover High School project for Callahan, Inc. have been cited for violations of wage and wage reporting laws. Action Floors has been issued a $2,000 penalty for intentionally failing to submit true and accurate certified payroll while Superior Foundations was found to have intentionally failing to pay proper prevailing wages on the Hanover High School project. Superior was also cited for prevailing wage violations while working on the Swansea Police Station. Superior has been issued a $2,000 penalty for the violations and order to pay $3,802.94 in restitution to workers who were cheated.

The Hanover High School project has been a source of controversy for years. After fighting to win local approval to fund construction of a new building, local authorities came under fire for ignoring or excusing misleading statements Callahan, Inc made to justify it's qualifications for the project. The Town successfully fought to have put aside opinions by the Attorney General's office and a suit brought by union carpenters in Hanover that the project should be rebid. Treasurer Tim Cahill, who's office was in control of funding for the project, refused repeated requests to intervene.

Hanover SJC arguments up for viewing online Posted by on

The arguments before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding Callahan, Inc the handling of prequalification and award of the Hanover (Mass) High School to Callahan, Inc are now available for viewing online at this site. The case is Fordyce v Town of Hanover.

The protest, filed by ten union members who are residents of the town, alleges that Callahan, Inc committed fraud when it took credit for another company’s work and should be removed from the job. The Massachusetts Attorney General joined the members as a party to the suit. They had previously issued an opinion that Callahan, Inc had misled the town, a ruling which the Town ignored.

Three contractors associations--Associated General Contractors (AGC), Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM) and the Utitility Contractors Association of New England (UCANE)—all of which represent both union and nonunion contractors in the state, filed briefs with the court in support of the union’s position.

Their involvement, highlights the importance of this case not just to Hanover, but to the construction industry statewide. The CIM-UCANE brief, in particular, illustrates the ways in which the integrity of the public bidding system would be severely undermined should the events in Hanover be allowed to stand. The AGC brief is also instructive.

As to the cost and time delays the Town has consistently cited as a reason for pushing forward with Callahan, Inc., the job was not really begun when the AG issued its determination that Callahan, Inc had lied on its SOQ. Minor site clearing had been done and a temporary parking lot was built. Options other than continuing with Callahan were certainly available to the Town at that point and subsequent to that. Please refer to Note 4 of the CIM brief on page 12:

“It should be noted that the public bidding statutes contain an “emergency” provision that, under certain exigent circumstances, empowers an awarding authority to bid a contract in an expedited manner if necessary and appropriate to safeguard the awarding authority’s interest. SEE G.L. c. 149, S 44A Where, as here, the awarding authority is confronted with late-discovered bidding irregularities that it believes may threaten the timing of the project, this “emergency bidding provision” provides a more than adequate mechanism for promptly and expeditiously re-bidding the project or otherwise rectifying the irregularities at issue. The availability of this alternative procedure (as well as the clearly articulated goals of the public bidding laws) makes the alternative of proceeding with a tainted contract even less justifiable.”

A decision on the case is expected within a week. If the action of the Town to ignore the fraud by Callahan, Inc and award them the job is not reversed it could seriously undermine the integrity of the public bidding process throughout the Commonwealth.


Bid dispute over Hanover HS argued at Mass SJC today Posted by on

A suit regarding the bidding of work for construction of a Hanover, Massachusetts school was heard by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court this morning. At issue was whether the town acted improperly when it qualified and hired Callahan Construction for the work, despite their failure to meet legally mandated requirements.

Callahan appeared to mislead the awarding body when it took credit for a previous project that it did not complete. Further, the project did not fall within the three-year period required by law.

After the town awarded the job to Callahan, two lawsuits were filed against Hanover—one by an HVAC contractor, the other by ten residents of Hanover. Kirt Fordyce, a retired union carpenter and Business Agent from Local 424, was the lead complainant in the resident suit.

The Attorney General’s Office had advised Hanover to refrain from awarding the job, pending their review of the bid protest. Hanover ignored that request and awarded the job to Callahan. The town then also ignored a later finding by the Attorney General that Callahan had misled the town during the bid process and allowed the job to continue.

A Superior Court Judge then issued an injunction against the Town of Hanover preventing Callahan Construction from continuing work on a $37 million high school. The ruling found the suits clearly established a reasonable likelihood that Callahan had engaged in fraud in qualification documents, that the public interest favored issuing an injunction, and that any additional costs to the Town resulting from an injunction "would be the product of the Town's own doing."

An Appeals Court judge reversed that decision, at which time the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reached down and pulled the case from the appeals process.

Oral arguments will be available for viewing online at this site within four days. The case is KIRK [sic] FORDYCE & others vs. TOWN OF HANOVER & another. The docket number is SJC-10643.