Emails point to collusion between Trammell Crow, Mortenson on Colorado Convention Center
- A series of emails around the $233 million Colorado Convention Center’s planned expansion reportedly point to collusion between Trammell Crow Co., the firm managing the expansion, and one of the bidding contractors, Mortenson Construction, reported CBS Denver. Trammell Crow has since fired an employee that it declined to name. Several sources, however, anonymously told CBS that it was Mike Sullivan, senior vice president of development management, and that he had been exchanging what some sources called “damning” emails with Mortenson personnel.
- Denver Mayor Michael Hancock last week stopped the contractor selection process and implored the Denver District Attorney to investigate. “The blatancy of what we saw and how brazen these people were to communicate the way they were, clearly violating the rules of competitive bidding … just blew me away,” Hancock reportedly said.
- In an emailed statement Mortenson sent to Construction Dive, president and CEO Dan Johnson said that the company initiated an internal review. "We have found no evidence of any inappropriate communication between Mortenson and competing contractors in the RFP process. Thus, in contrast to some erroneous reports, there has been no 'bid-rigging.' We have confirmed there were communications, initiated by Trammell Crow's lead representative, with Mortenson team members that clearly were not appropriate when part of a public procurement. Those communications are unacceptable to Mortenson. We take this issue very seriously will continue to cooperate with any further inquiries by the City or the District Attorney's office." Trammell Crow Company Denver Senior Managing Director Bill Mosher said in a statement that "We are mortified this occurred. In no way were the actions of the employee authorized by Trammell Crow Company. They are contrary to the values of our company and our longstanding business practices. We are cooperating fully with the City of Denver and continuing to conduct our own internal investigation."
The Denver District Attorney office is still reviewing documents and has yet to decide whether it will open a full criminal investigation, according to a spokesperson for the office. Regardless, however, terminating the contract with Trammell Crow and restarting the bidding process will cost taxpayers money. The District Attorney office plans to hire an outside attorney to quantify damages from the bidding process, as well as to “recoup these losses from those responsible.”
Taxpayer dollars are a precious commodity at the federal, state and local levels and officials are tasked with using them wisely. As such, how to spend taxpayer dollars often becomes a hot-button issue.
People opposed to the $4 billion American Dream Miami project in Florida don’t want it to receive taxpayer dollars like other projects by developer Triple Five have. Although Miami-Dade commissioners passed a resolution prohibiting the county from subsidizing the mall, the state still could contribute.
On the other side of the country, costs continue to climb on California’s $77 billion bullet train — originally projected to cost only $40 billion — and citizens don’t want the state to sink any more taxpayer dollars into the line. State and federal tax dollars are already invested into the project, including a $3.5 billion grant that the U.S. DOT audited.
Pennsylvania is taking proactive steps to conscientiously use taxpayer money in school construction. After a study found schools across the state wasted more than $100 million of taxpayer dollars on school roofing by using cooperative purchasing instead of competitive bidding, state representative Jesse Topper introduced a bill last month that would open major school construction projects to competitive bidding.
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