From Today’s Gloucester Daily Times
IG: Bidding laws broken
On Thursday state Inspector General Gregory Sullivan, whose investigation of the state’s approval of the Gloucester charter provided a legal basis for much of the lawsuit, told the Times that, at the request of Gloucester’s state lawmakers, he has since investigated and concluded that the hiring of ModSpace broke state competitive bidding laws.
The procurement laws, meant to prevent the waste of public dollars, require public schools and other government entities to seek competitive bids for all large construction projects.
In the case of the modular classrooms, Gloucester Community Arts did not seek bids; ModSpace was hired and the units ordered through Mick Lafata, the owner of the permanent site that the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School GCA is leasing. The charter school is not paying anything additional beyond its lease to install the modulars.
Sullivan, citing a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling in the procurement case concerning new University of Massachusetts Lowell dorm rooms, said the lease arrangement should not allow the charter to skirt the procurement law.
“Our internal conclusion was that the process they were using was a violation of the state’s competitive bidding laws,” Sullivan said. “They are doing it under the cover of the lease, but really they are designing the school. In this case, if they are designing it and directing it, they have to go by the public procurement rules.”
The inspector general’s office does not have its own prosecutorial powers, so Sullivan said he passed his findings along to Attorney General Martha Coakley and is awaiting a response.
A spokesman for Coakley yesterday said he could neither confirm nor deny an investigation.