by Andrew Walden
A whistleblower claims the Hawaii Department of Education is rigging a billion dollar alternative energy contract to favor Chevron Energy Solutions. An internal DoE procurement audit shows the DoE stands to lose between $310M and $612M over the life of the contract by accepting Chevron's bid over that of energy engineering firm Prime Solutions.
Former DoE Energy Efficiency Program Manager Sarah McCann July 12 filed a state whistleblower lawsuit. Exhibits include the audit, bid analysis sheets, and an exchange of emails between McCann and DoE Assistant Superintendent for School Facilities and Support Services Ray L’Heureux. In the June 10 email exchange L’Heureux tells McCann, “I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation as it now stands.”
Gravity? Ask MRC Greenwood.
Prime Solutions is very experienced in the type of project outlined in the DoE’s RFP, but the company run by electrical engineers from Connecticut.
On the other hand, Chevron's “Hawaii Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs director” is Al Chee. Chee is the Chairman-Elect of Ahahui Koa Anuenue, “the designated organization responsible for the coordination and oversight of all fundraising activities that are conducted to benefit and support the UH Mānoa athletics programs.”
According to the AKA website, Chee “represents Chevron's interests as a registered lobbyist in the legislative setting, is responsible for managing internal and external communications, and oversees development and implementation of key community partnerships in Hawai‘i.”
The DoE bid audit, presented May 28, 2013 by McCann and Hawaii Association of Energy Engineers Chapter President Ray Delio, shows the Chevron bid was grossly non-compliant and should not have even been considered. According to the audit, Chevron’s bid:
- was “non-binding” and the fee proposal was “to be negotiated”
- misstated the purpose of the program as “to help teacher labor costs and transportation”
- “had multiple bankruptcies of subcontractors”
- was “significantly more expensive than the performance contracts recently signed by other state agencies.”
McCann’s counsel sent a “whistleblower warning” to the State with copies to DoE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and BoE Chair Don Horner after her superiors allegedly ordered her to illegally destroy all copies of the audit because “it would be evidence that the State improperly conducted the process….”
Her attorney requested the DoE “take all necessary action to protect our clients from any illegal or improper actions being taken against her in retaliation by the DoE for this disclosure so as to prevent the necessity of a claim pursuant to the Whistleblower Protection Act, HRS 378-62.”
In the email exchange with L’Heureux, McCann writes: “our hope is that this will be handled at the highest levels….” L’Heureux responds “there most certainly will be discussions at that level.”
The DoE terminated McCann June 24.
DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz claims McCann was not really terminated, just a 90-day hire who timed out. Dela Cruz quit Governor Abercrombie’s office after telling that kind of story too many times.
The firm of McCann’s attorney, Bert T. Kobayashi Jr, separately represents Prime Solutions.
$612M is 11 times the $55M used by the DoE/BoE/HSTA as the excuse for Furlough Fridays.
Al Chee did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
LINK: FULL TEXT OF LAWSUIT
LINK: McCann vs Matayoshi Exhibits D, E, F
2008: Chevron Energy Solutions Expands into Hawaii
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