Friday, November 21, 2014

THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE GYM ------------- by Larry Fillmore

I normally would not do this but I personally believe it is necessary to restore order in Lisbon.  I apologize because this may get very lengthy.

The issue at hand is that the School Committee selected the second lowest bid (Ledgewood Construction) on the gym project.  This has caused an adverse effort among some members of our Town Council and members of the School Committee.  Keep in mind, that both of these bodies are elected by the people of Lisbon and are completely separate of each other.

The lowest bidder was Landry French.  Since the School Committee made their decision to accept Ledgewood Contruction, Mr. Kevin French has been busy calling Councilors and citizens in protest of the School Committee’s decision.  Mr. French has filed a Temporary Restraining Order in Superior Court.  Mr. French has a legal right to file whatever he want because that is the process for settling a grievance over the bid process.  However, Mr. French does not have the right to contact Councilors and citizens, who have no jurisdiction over the School Committee, and cause hate and discontent within the community.  The damage already done between members of the Town Council and the School Committee are going to take years to repair.  Based on Mr. French’s unethical behavior, I personally would not award his company any contract.  There is a right way and a wrong way to behave and in my opinion Mr. French learns this yet.

I witnessed three Councilors addressing the School Committee at its last meeting encouraging the School Committee to reverse its decision.  These Councilors stated they had received numerous calls from their constituents asking what took place.  The most important thing to remember is that these two government bodies are completely separate and these Councilors should have stayed out of it and referred these calls to the Superintendent, Mr. Green.  These Councilors involved themselves without knowing all the facts.  Now, these Councilors feel that the School Committee should have justified their decision to them.  We all know that the Town Council does not justify their every decision to the School Committee.  This is one case where the Town Council should have stayed out of this completely.  Now, there is bad blood between the Town Council and the School Board created by Mr. French.

The School Committee has had to defend its decision before the people.  I am writing this because I have had an opportunity to review some of the documents before the court.  The decision to take the second lowest bid was based on the following:  Ledgewood Construction had a stronger school construction portfolio, a superior understanding of the project, better on-time and on-budget references and smoother working relationship with the Architect.  This information came from the court documents.  The people of Lisbon elected these members of the School Committee to protect the best interest of the community.  The decision was made in good faith thinking they were doing what was best for the community.

No one ever knows what the decision will be in a court case; I know this from personal experience.  However, I do believe that this community has been separated too long and everyone including the Town Council and the people of Lisbon should stand behind the School Committee and its decision.

This is my personal opinion based on just what I have learned.

Larry Fillmore


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