Thursday, March 28th, 2013 at 12:47pm

School District Staff Tries to Pay to Relocate Workers for Eustis Project

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Tentatively Approved $128,000 to Import Out-of-County Workers

Several weeks ago, the facilities department of the Lake County School District presented a construction agreement (View the Agreement) to the School Board for final approval.  The agreement was with Allstate Construction, Inc. for $12,640,000 to “renovate, remodel, and add on” to Eustis Heights Elementary School.  A source within the School District advises that the agreement was negotiated by John Davis, the District’s Chief Operations Officer, Gary Parker, the Director of Facilities, and staff from the purchasing department. Typically, the School Board rubber-stamps their approval of School District Staff recommendations.  However, this time something odd caught the eye of new School Board Member, Bill Mathias.

Mathias, a veteran in the area of commercial restaurant construction, saw a line item that made no sense.  In the general conditions summary page of the agreement there was an amount of $128,000 under “other items for relocation”.  Mathias then referenced back to line “h” on page 27 of the Agreement, which says, “Relocation Expenses for Construction Manager’s personnel.”  Based on this questionable line item expense, Mathias was able to convince other Board members to table approval of the agreement until a thorough vetting of the contract could be done.  As part of the vetting process, Mathias reached out to Central Florida experts in the field of commercial construction.  He found that the $128,000 relocation expense, which was approved by Lake County School District Staff, was a charge to Lake County citizens to literally relocate Allstate Construction workers to Lake County.  His research also revealed that such an expense is normally regarded as an overhead expenditure absorbed by companies in the industry; not something charged directly to the client.

There are many troubling facts about the authorization of this $128,000 charge and many unanswered questions –

  • It is a slap in the face to every man and woman in Lake County looking for work.  With the unemployment rate in Lake County at 8.3%, why would we pay to hire and relocate out-of-county workers?
  • There are qualified contractors in Lake County who can “renovate, remodel, and add” on to this school, so why would Lake County School District staff seek to authorize an out-of-county contractor that hires out-of-county workers?
  • Why would the Lake County School District authorize a $128,000 expense that is typically regarded as an overhead expenditure for other companies?
  • According to a source close to the District, John Davis is trying to throw Gary Parker under the bus for this objectionable charge.  This is a sanctioned screwing by the School District staff.  Who is actually responsible for negotiating this agreement and who signed off on it?
  • This is the same District leadership that has negotiated almost $400 million in school construction projects over the last seven years.  How much more money have they cost the taxpayers of Lake County?
  • If this questionable expense was easily spotted by Bill Mathias during a Board Meeting, what else could be found wrong with the Agreement under a more thorough review?
  • Is this corruption or incompetence?

For many years, our group has pushed the cause for local participation (hiring local vendors) and this is yet another time in which the School Board has been ripped off by a company hired outside of Lake County.  Through property taxes, the penny sales tax, and impact fees, the people of Lake County have paid for all of these schools to be constructed.  It has become very evident that not only were these taxes not used to hire local workers, the money was wasted by theSchool District.

We believe the School District betrayed the confidence of the Lake County School Board.  If not for Bill Mathias, this agreement would have been approved and the citizens of Lake County ripped off.  Citizens for Better Government, LLC, in conjunction with experts in the construction industry, are in the process of thoroughly examining and evaluating this agreement.  In the next couple of Right Side of the Lake articles, we will expose some serious problems we uncovered.  We believe you will be both shocked and disappointed.  Is it corruption or incompetence?   You decide.

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3 Responses to “School District Staff Tries to Pay to Relocate Workers for Eustis Project”

  1. It is a slap in the face to every man, woman and child in Lake County that we have been dupped by a bunch of gangsters as well.

    That’s probably why so many contractor’s and others in the building trades are driving to Orlando for the crumbs or unemployed and doing odd jobs to pay our taxes the same taxes our leasers use to pay to import workers into Lake County to do jobs we would like to have and should be doing.

    You know we don’t have to be to smart to see something is bad wrong around here. All this building going on in downtown Tavares and stuff and it’s all a secret. Why isn’t the TV and other reporters doing tours and giving us updates on these construction projects since it is we who have to pay for them?

    I mean like shouldn’t we be getting invited to some ribbon cuttings or something?

  2. Name hummmm says:

    Remember a couple of year back when Tod Howard was trying to do the right thing? Looking out for the taxpayers at every move. When some of the bloggers brought up the name of Bob McKee to him and tried to tell him how McKee ran everything in Lake County he popped back something like he didn’t know Bob McKee.

    Well he sure hasn’t been on here blogging and standing up for what’s right as much as he once did. They must have give him some of that consensus training your’re talking about.

    It’s sad how all these folks deny and lie about all of this when as you folks say “If this questionable expense was easily spotted by Bill Mathias during a Board Meeting, what else could be found wrong with the Agreement under a more thorough review?”

    I’ll bet Tod Howard has met the godfather by now, that’s why he got quiet.

    By now everyone with gray matter should have realized the slight of hand of these criminals.

    They always take advantage of every crisis. When they are on the media everyday talking aboug gay issues you’d better see what they have up their sleeves that involves mucho dinero.

  3. • It is a slap in the face to every man and woman in Lake County looking for work. With the unemployment rate in Lake County at 8.3%, why would we pay to hire and relocate out-of-county workers?

    Ans: It absolutely is a slap in the face but, as you say below it’s been going on “over the last seven years” now.

    Disgruntled former Lake County employee’s including a now deceased former auditor for the Lake Clerk told people the CPPI construction jobs were overbilling; sometimes triple billing. Including billing 7% sales tax on the judicial center steel and reimbursing it to a special account set up by Barbara Lehman Minkoff. He even passed the proof of his finding to several people outside the courthouse clique. No one cared! Not one person ever even tried to prove or disprove it. Everyone accepted it as fact and shrugged their shoulders and commented “well that’s just the way they do things here in Lake County.”

    That is, ever since Bob McKee instituted his pay to build plans around here. Just look at McKee and (CPPI) Domenico Scorpio who has built some schools as well, but all the Tax Collector-Property Appraisers offices, parking garage, some jail renovations, judicial expansion, round-a-bout and the emergency operation’s center at $8.6 million. Almost identical to the Flagler County EOC they built for $3.6 million.

    • There are qualified contractors in Lake County who can “renovate, remodel, and add” on to this school, so why would Lake County School District staff seek to authorize an out-of-county contractor that hires out-of-county workers?

    Ans: Yes there are plenty of qualified contractors in Lake County and for sure plenty of workers. However most are too ethical to do business with Bob McKee and his gang. We noticed a blogger just last week brought up the Umatilla Middle School Rehab at a measly $1.7 million. That Gilbane Company obviously misled the people about being located in Orlando. At least Allstate is listed at the Tallahassee address on their contract. It takes time and money to see who they are really connected too and just how much money they have all slipped our local politicians; time and money that’s better spent otherwise because no one is going to do anything about any of this anyway.

    And as too “why would Lake County School District staff seek to authorize an out-of-county contractor that hires out-of-county workers?” Most likely that is simply a billable charge they concocted up which should have really been titled “fee to Bob McKee and the gang for being given this contract.”

    • Why would the Lake County School District authorize a $128,000 expense that is typically regarded as an overhead expenditure for other companies?

    Hey man, everybody needs to wake up around here. This is Lake County. If you work in this county on government projects you are going to pay. Bob McKee owns Doctor Susan “Getford” Moxley lock, stock and barrel. She does what he tells her to do not what the board tells her to do. When you let contracts you get kickbacks, period. As you say it’s been going on now for the better part of seven years. The planning stages even started long before that!

    • According to a source close to the District, John Davis is trying to throw Gary Parker under the bus for this objectionable charge. This is a sanctioned screwing by the School District staff. Who is actually responsible for negotiating this agreement and who signed off on it?

    Ans: If Mr. Bill keeps on doing a good job and finding all this stuff and bringing it to light he will be the one they will be sitting up to get rid of. I can imagine it now. Grand Jury investigates new school board member for campaign violations!

    For all you non-believers or paid culture of corruption defenders google (now former) Judge Matthew E. McMillan of Manatee County Florida to see how they take care of honest people who refuse to comply with their orders.

    The sanctioned screwing, negotiating this agreement and who signed off on it?
    The answer to all three is Bob McKee.

    • This is the same District leadership that has negotiated almost $400 million in school construction projects over the last seven years. How much more money have they cost the taxpayers of Lake County?

    Ans: UNTOLD MILLIONS

    “They” have literally robbed the people blind over these years. Under the leadership of Bob McKee, the self anointed godfather like the butcher that butchers the hog, they have rendered and made money out of everything but the squeal. Everyone has to pay to play. When they borrowed the money to build the schools that got a kickback on the bonds. When they built the schools they got a kickback from everybody involved. If you remember a former school board employee even lost his job trying to bring to the surface that he could obtain a particular insurance coverage for the school board at a $1 million savings. He went on the say Jimmy Conner who had already left the school board by that tiime and was on the BCC put a halt to that.

    In reality this organized theft of our tax dollars here in Lake County has been going on longer than seven years. It’s just really went into high gear and the projects are impossible to hide from public view like they did so many of the schools over the years.

    • If this questionable expense was easily spotted by Bill Mathias during a Board Meeting, what else could be found wrong with the Agreement under a more thorough review?

    Mr. Bill Mathias is obviously an honest, wonderful guy. Yes he is business savvy and we refuse to take anything from him. But, at the same time let’s not kid ourselves into thinking all these other board members don’t know what’s going on. Every one of them is complacent in this “sanctioned screwing” in one way or another. Some like the chicken in the breakfast are simply involved when they just turn their heads and sign their names; others like the hog in the breakfast are totally committed, they help put these deals together. If you only went back seven years you would be amazed at the millions and millions of dollars that have found there way into the wrong pockets for all the wrong reasons.

    • Is this corruption or incompetence?

    This operation is an organized culture of corruption. When caught at anything that looks shady their first line of defense is incompetence. Why do you think they hire the kind of people they do? Remember you guys called for the termination of CFO Carol McLeod and some blogger come back and said she had been terminated but Bob McKee made them put her back to work! All they will allow to work in these positions are “controllable people.” This is hard core well organized corruption with Bob McKee at the helm of Lake County’s involvement. Then it moves on up the ladder to the big boys from there.

    The people might just as well wake up and realize these are the cold hard facts. Obama might have more social security numbers than Bob McKee does but Bob McKee is running Lake County and he has more dates of birth than Obama does. He’s the man!

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