Chamber suffers 'fractures' after special meeting

The Craig Chamber of Commerce board conducted a special meeting Wednesday morning to discuss issues surrounding the organization's executive director and her handling of a contentious bid award.

After the meeting, one board member resigned for unrelated reasons, saying he no longer felt he and other board members were working toward the same goals.

At issue for the Chamber on Wednesday were bids the organization sought for portable toilets at the Grand Olde West Days carnival on Memorial Day. Two bids were submitted, one from Action Drain Services and the other from Roto-Rooter Plumbing Service, and the proposals were separated by $5.60.

The job went to the lowest bid, which was submitted by Roto-Rooter.

Action Drain owners Dave and Deb Teeter contend a Chamber intern shared their bid price with someone working with Roto-Rooter Plumbing Service.

They said Roto-Rooter owner Casey Herod was able to underbid their price by such a small amount because he had inside information.

Herod and Roto-Rooter did not return calls by press time.

Deb, who sits on the Chamber board, said there were "many discrepancies" throughout the process, which Chamber Executive Director Christina Currie oversaw.

For instance, Currie has carte blanche to award any bids as long as they are from Chamber members - which both bids were - and they are within budget, Deb said.

But, both bids were more than budgeted by at least $40 and should have been reviewed by the board.

"I never, ever questioned it (whether the bids were valid) until (Currie) started talking about maybe the bids were compromised," Deb said. "It was one mistake after another when it came down to those two bids."

She will remain on the board, however, and Action Drain will not cancel its membership, she said.

"I am going to stay on the board because I feel it is my duty to work with the other board members to make sure (Currie) does her job correctly," Deb said. "You can bet : the bid process will change. There will be no compromising of anyone's bids."

She and her husband said money and losing the bid were not part of their frustration.

"My problem with it is I don't want to be connected to an organization that promotes unfair business practices," Dave said. "What are you telling the young businessman, that's how you do business in this town? It was known, and it was condoned."

The alleged impropriety, Currie said, came from a high school student interning with the Chamber, who is related to Dave and Herod.

The intern wrote the bid requests for the project and mailed them out with her name on the form, Currie said.

She added she investigated the situation for any impropriety and found none.

Chamber staff, including its intern, followed all of the organization's existing policies before awarding the bid, Currie said.

"The bottom line is, her only role was in drafting that letter," she said. "There's no chance she would have seen the bid amounts. : She doesn't actually work in this office or come in; she works out of the high school. She's been in this office three times since this started : and the last time was when she dropped off the request forms."

The Chamber board did not take any action during its special meeting other than ask staff to draft changes to the organization's bid process, board president Lisa Balstad said. Those changes include requiring board approval for any bid more than a set amount - possibly $1,000 - and keeping all bids confidential.

"We were just concerned about how the bid was handled," Balstad said. "Had it been brought to the board, instead of the director taking the brunt of the responsibility, it could have been handled differently."

The Teeters also felt the board should add language to its bylaws to favor businesses who are active in the Chamber and the community when bids are close, like they were in this case.

"We put a lot more time and money into the Chamber than we ever get out," Deb said. "Action Drain bought the lunch for the board retreat this year. Action Drain always buys a table for Crabfest. None of that mattered, though."

Balstad said the board did not ask staff to create the new criteria, however, because some felt it would discourage new members from joining.

Currie was not reprimanded in any way, but her performance was discussed at the meeting, Balstad added.

Bryce Jacobson, Craig Daily Press publisher and former 2008 Chamber board president, resigned after Wednesday's meeting, but he said it had nothing to do with the specific bids brought up or Currie's role in the process.

"After today's meeting, it has become obvious that the goals that I personally have for the Craig Chamber of Commerce are not those of the majority of the board of directors," Jacobson wrote in the resignation letter he submitted Wednesday.

He added in an interview Thursday, "I still think the Chamber is a very valuable asset to this community, and I'll do whatever I can to support any venture they go down as a member of this organization.

"There comes a time when you have to hold that mirror up in front of your face, and if you see a problem or a different direction in goals that no one else does, you have to put the onus on yourself."

Deb said she knows recent disputes seem to have shaken the Chamber, but she is hopeful the Chamber will come out stronger and better serve its members in the future.

"There may be some fractures in the leadership, but I believe that you become stronger through the adversity," she said. "Everyone learns to work together, better and clearer. Now, we will have a clearer process."

Comments

lonelyone 4 years, 10 months ago

I think it would be wrong to award bids to memebers who are able to do more with certain activites. Some businesses just don't have alot of capital to deal with. Some members can't afford to buy lunches for retreats and tables at Crabfests, but they still pay their membership and should get the same amount of consideration as the next member.

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saunders 4 years, 10 months ago

$5 is $5 and when awardinding a low bid it matters. I am appauled that the Teeter's believe that if they do things for the chamber they should be awarded close bids. That alone to me is enough to ask for Deb Teeters resignation from the Chamber board. It is exaclty this type of thinking that has hindered Craig business for years. The good ole boys club needs disbanned for good. Cudos to Christine for awarding the bid based on fiscal information alone. As far as any other possible wrong doings it sounds like sour grapes to me and someone is showing there true colors.

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westslopeguy 4 years, 10 months ago

Deal with it Dave. You don't run the freakin' town. Much like you think you can,or wish you can based on the way the town USED to run. What you say doesn't always go. Learn to live as most of us do... BY THE RULES. WAAHH! my f in heart bleeds.

This from someone that has seen what the good ol' boi network can do to an individual.

C'mon Get Real!!

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Ray Cartwright 4 years, 10 months ago

As Christine is an employee of the Chamber it is her duty to answer to them and follow the procedures that they set down. The Chamber Board is elected by the members and as such it is their responsibility to use those moneys wisely and it looks to me like Christine did just what she should have done and that is to award the lowest bid. I feel she should be comended for sending the bids out in the first place since she didn't really have to. If there was a foul in the process then; yes the Teeters have something to complain about. Maybe an investigation should be launched to determine if wrongdoing actually happened. Obviously the Teeters have evidence that the bid tampering did exsist or it wouldn't have been brought up in the first place. If there is no evidence then maybe a defimacation of charactor lawsuit is in order. Christine after all has the reputation of her position to uphold.

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unclogr 4 years, 10 months ago

To the above and all who don't know or chose not to believe the facts....As you can see, I am not hiding my identity. This is Dave Teeter...1.) we are not part of any "good ole' boy club" ...as a matter of fact, we're on the other side of that fence. 2.) I am real!!! I run a business not this town. NOW for the facts in this matter. Christine contacted us a week prior to awarding the bid---she stated that she had misplaced our bid but then it turned up. She said that after looking at the bids she believed our bid had been comprimised. "We did not make the charges against Casey Herod", Chris did. We assumed she would handle the situation and left it at that. A couple of days later Chris calls and asked us about a possible leak at the chamber (source of the comprimised bid). Once again we thought she was on top of the situation. Then a few days later she calls and said she awarded the bid to Casey...Why? She said he cheated and then she rewarded him. This is why we were upset...We don't mind loosing a bid...we know were not the only game in town. We only ask for a fair chance at jobs...nothing more, nothing less. If there was no tampering, then why did she think there was? Why did she bring this to our attention? If this was true, then I feel sorry for Casey (my cousins son) for thinking this is how to do business. And if it is true, I believe the Chambers decision only supported an unethical way of doing business...a good ole' boy mentallity that needs to go away in OUR community. In my opinion the Chamber is an organization of small businesses, for small businesses. They are there to help us work together to succeed, to help train us run our business better, to help us help each other. What education are we providing the young business men and women if we support unethical business practices?
As far as what we donate in time a money...we're blessed and thankful we have the opportunity to give back. This community has been good to us and our business. I know the economy has been harder on some then others. But we do work hard, and give when and were we can. If any of you would like to discuss this matter with my wife or I, then call us.

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lonelyone 4 years, 10 months ago

Dave, I will be the first to say I was wrong if what you say is true. I'm not saying you have now written a letter that is kind of iffy. I have no reason to ever believe you would lie to us. I would like to ask this question and maybe you can answer it and maybe you can't. IF what you say is true, then why did the paper make it sound differently. Because from what I remember about the article, Chris had no knowledge of what was going on and the young lady who was suppose to have leaked your bid price didn't do it?? As I said, I'm not calling you a liar by any means, but would like to know what is going on?? I know in a round about way it is none of my business, but I feel as a communtiy we have a right to get the facts straight.....does that make sense to you?

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oldsage 4 years, 10 months ago

"IF what you say is true, then why did the paper make it sound differently." This is a question, and it should have one of these (?) at the end.

The answer is that if you want the story correct in this paper it is advisable to write it yourself, send it to them, and tell them they can use what you wrote as there own! Those who have been reading it long enough know this, wise up!

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Ray Cartwright 4 years, 10 months ago

thank you OLDSAGE i am really glad someone is checking puncuation on trhe forum

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Ray Cartwright 4 years, 10 months ago

Oh hell I forgot to capitalize the "I" and spelled "the" wrong. My bad, sorry. Oh and I forgot to put the period at the end.

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lonelyone 4 years, 10 months ago

Oldsage if you want to be pissy and correct my punctuation, then I will correct your grammar.

"...... send it to them, and tell them they can use what you wrote as there own! Those who have been reading it long enough know this, wise up!"
That should be THEIR own, not "there" own!!

Gee, don't we both feel better now for correcting each other??????

Dave, again, I'm not doubting you, just wondering what the heck is going on. Sorry once again if I made you think otherwise.

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unclogr 4 years, 10 months ago

Lonelyone and eveyone else...I would have to agree with Oldsage about the paper. Fact!!!!! Chris brought this to us a week prior to awarding the bid. The chamber hasn't finished with this matter but it's over for us (Deb and I). I hope the Chamber will make the correction to the public and clear us of sounding like children throwing a tantrum. We did not accuse Casey of any wrong doing. We may believe it's true but that's an opinion, not a fact. As far as the girl in the office. Chris asked us if there was a connection between her and Casey, there is...and she's also related to me. She also handled the bids. Chris did not tell us why she suspected her, nor why she changed her mind. And as far as we know, it could have been anyone in the office. We don't know who the guilty party is...Chris said (after she awarded the bid) that she was wrong and she doesn't believe any leakage happened. But, what kind of investigation did she really do? Why wasn't the board brought in to investigate? Why weren't the bids (including mine) thrown out? This is what the board is tring to fix, proceedure. And because it happened to us, we're the bad guys. So there's the truth. And we move on to a new day and go about our business.
Have a great summer. Dave

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neutral1 4 years, 10 months ago

COMPETITION! Keeps businesses honest... i.e. cleaner toilets! Seems that when you're the only one in town service doesn't matter, but when you throw another one in the mix it makes them both keep to their business promises & better for our community.
Dave-could end up that the community isn't very happy with the way the toilets were serviced this year & thus next year have a part in the final decision, regardless of a $5 difference! Or maybe your service wasn't the best over the last few years... Rather than pointing fingers & doing the 'he said, she said' thing... BUCK UP! Focus on your business & customer service this is just making you look REALLY BAD!
Quality of Service is hopefully a part of the bid review process! I couldn't even use several of the toilets at the Whittle Da Wood a few years back because a large # of them were so full it was disgusting... because of that I haven't attended the last few events long enough to find out if the service was better. While I'm only a small 1 person, I just want to say that a 'bad 1st impressions are hard to forget." But not impossible if the person, business, etc. is worth it.

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