Skeet-shoot fee leads to pulling of LLHS contract

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Construction of Los Lunas High School was halted when district officials learned the contractor, McCarthy Building Companies, paid a $125 skeet shoot entry fee for a district administrator evaluating the proposals.

Construction of Los Lunas High School was halted when district officials learned the contractor, McCarthy Building Companies, paid a $125 skeet shoot entry fee for a district administrator evaluating the proposals.

A competing contractor for the renovation project was at the same shooting competition and notified school officials Nov. 1 that McCarthy paid for Antonio Sedillo to join its skeet shoot team in Albuquerque.

Sedillo, the district’s constructions supervisor, was on the bid evaluation committee for Phase II of the project. Sedillo has been placed on paid administrative leave.

“That is a clear violation of protocol procedures for anybody participating on a scoring committee during the time of the bid,” said Los Lunas School Superintendent Bernard Saiz. “In order to insure to the public that we are transparent and this is being done right, we asked the school board to rescind this bid.”

At a special meeting last Friday, the Los Lunas Board of Education pulled McCarthy’s $24 million contract, which was awarded on Oct. 22, and told school officials to issue a new request for proposals.

The second phase of construction includes approximately 105,000 square feet of new buildings and about 12,000 square feet of renovating existing buildings. The total high school project costs about $60 million. The state is paying 80 percent of the bill.

Other contractors that submitted bids were Gerald Martin Construction, Bradbury Stamm Construction and Jaynes Corp.

An internal investigation is being conducted on whether Sedillo violated state procurement rules. He will be on paid leave until disciplinary action is determined, Saiz said.

“He’s actually done a very good job for us in the past,” Saiz said. “He’s been supervising this project, which came in three months ahead of schedule … the man is an avid hunter, shooter. I think he let his desires get a hold of him and did not use good judgment in turning down the invitation.”

“I think both McCarthy and (Sedillo) could have used better judgment,” Saiz said.

A completely new committee is being formed for the new bid process. The names cannot be disclosed until the end of the process, said Claire Cieremans, chief financial officer.

“None of the original people on the first committee will be on the second scoring committee,” Saiz said.

The proposal is open to any construction company, including the previous bidders, as well as McCarthy, he said.

The company intends to bid on the new proposal and says it paid for Sedillo’s skeet shoot entry fee before they submitted the proposal in question.

“McCarthy New Mexico has the utmost respect for the Los Lunas District’s RFP process, and believes its selection of our team was based wholly on the professional standards and qualifications that they seek,” said Bo Calbert, president of McCarthy’s Southwest Division.

“It’s disappointing that the district is in a position where the students and community may be impacted because of this appeal,” he added. “We plan to re-submit for the project and hope to have the opportunity to bring the same high quality and professionalism delivered on Phase I to Phase II.”

There is a slight alteration to the new request for proposals. The initial one requested contractors provide examples of past projects since 2008. This time the five most recent projects are requested, said Vicki Parker, director of purchasing.

“We want to know their similar educational or government projects.” Parker said.

The deadline for proposals is Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Parker estimates completion of the high school will be April 2015, rather than the scheduled November 2014.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.