Bid proposals and change orders for an American School for the Deaf construction project went directly to firm owned by a public works manager and his wife, a whistleblower alleges.
Two private contractors, Conn-Strux Inc. and A-N Consulting Engineers Inc., may have been selected for a state-funded construction project at the American School for the Deaf (ASD) without the requisite competitive bidding process, according to a court document filed by the state Attorney General’s office.The allegation originates from a confidential whistleblower complaint received by state auditors last February, the court document said. The auditors referred the complaint to the AG’s office, which subpoenaed Department of Public Works (DPW) Project Manager David Wlodkowski and his wife, architect Ira Hessmer. Wlodkowski was the project manager on the ASD project in West Hartford.Ctnewsjunkie.com first reported on the existence of the investigation last month (see A Probe in the Works, 5/24/05).Through their attorney, William Sweeney of New Britain-based Sweeney & Griffen, the couple filed a motion to quash the AG’s subpoena. That caused the AG’s office to file a motion in opposition. It is that document which contains these new details about the substance of the whistleblower complaint.Wlodkowski and Hessmer co-own two architectural service firms- International Design Collaborative (IDC) and Ira Hessmer, Architect, according to the AG’s motion. “The [whistleblower complaint] stated that Mr. Wlodkowski instructed A-N to submit its bid proposal on the ASD project directly to IDC, as opposed to submitting it to DPW in accordance with the normally applicable bid procedures,” the AG’s motion said. “In addition, the complaint noted that A-N submitted change orders- that is, contractual revisions- concerning the ASD project directly to IDC.“The motion adds: “IDC was not a contractor on the ASD project in question, and it is unclear why it would have had any connection to the selection of contractors, the processing of bid materials or the handling of change orders.“The whistleblower complaint also alleged some documentation regarding the selection and payment of Conn-Strux and A-N “may have been recreated or falsified,” the motion said.Conn-Strux is currently involved in arbitration with the state over work it performed at the ASD project. Thus it appears Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s office is simultaneously defending DPW in the arbitration, while investigating Wlodkowski, one of the department’s employees.In addition, A-N Consulting’s President Frank Dawidowicz told ctnewsjunkie.com last month that he is cooperating with the state in the Conn-Strux arbitration, agreeing to appear as an expert witness for the state. That sets up a situation where Blumenthal’s office is cooperating with A-N Consulting in one matter, but investigating the company in another. Asked last month about the propriety of these dual roles, Blumenthal told ctnewsjunkie.com that the whistleblower unit is walled off from the other functions of his office.