Former Macomb County public works boss Tony Marrocco may have fled to Florida, perhaps never to be seen again in Macomb, but his 2016 campaign chief remains eager to throw barbs at the woman who dispatched Marrocco in the November election – Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.
Michael Radtke, Jr., claims that Miller engaged in pay-to-play politics by awarding the $32.7 million Fraser sinkhole repair contract to one of her most ardent supporters during the 2016 public works election campaign. Radtke, a candidate for Sterling Heights City Council in this fall’s elections, refers to Chris Peyerk, owner of Dan’s Excavating, the Shelby Township construction firm that won the contract. Peyerk hosted Miller’s first major fundraiser, with ticket prices topping at $3,000, last May at his Rochester Hills home.
“(Peyerk) was one of Candice Miller’s first and largest campaign contributors. It is amazing that this firm, which is also involved in the Freedom Hill dirt dump fiasco, was chosen to be the general contractor. It reeks of pay to play and official corruption,” Radtke said.
Miller’s office tells a much different story, with layers of protections against undue influence in the bidding process and the compilation of a team of professionals that publicly reviewed the five sealed bids submitted. According to Miller’s staff, the bids ranged from the low turned in by Dan’s Excavating to a high of $34.2 million. The Dan’s bid was about $250,000 below the next lowest bidder, not counting the savings expected to be realized from the promise of an earlier completion date.
Radtke’s reference to dirt dumped at Freedom Hill County Park in Sterling Heights relates to a deal County Executive Mark Hackel made with Dan’s Excavating to haul excavated soil to the park, where it was to be used to build a privacy berm. In turn, the company eliminated their cost of hauling the dirt to a dump site. The county failed to gain proper permits from the state, and the decision briefly raised pollution concerns as the park property is located on a former landfill.
As for the repair of the collapsed, 300-foot sewer line below 15 Mile Road in Fraser, the contract was unanimously awarded to Dan’s Excavating on Monday by the Macomb Interceptor Drainage District board. The decision was made by Miller, a Republican, and two Democratic county commissioners, Bob Smith of Clinton Township and Vernoica Klinefelt of Eastpointe.
“I feel very confident in this contract being awarded to Dan’s,” Miller said. “Not only are they a local company with a stellar reputation for their work, but their bid was put under scrutiny by a team of engineers and financial experts who conducted an exhaustive evaluation and they unanimously endorsed Dan’s bid.”
The nine-member evaluation team, comprised of staff from the Office of Public Works and several consulting firms, reviewed the contracts based on price, work schedule and the work history of each of the five bidders. The Dan’s bid was lowest in terms of cost and ranked first in its overall score based on the three factors.
“This bid was awarded after thorough review, done in a public meeting and with the leaders of the impacted communities of this project invited to be in the room while the bid was discussed and voted upon,” Miller said. “Our mission in Public Works is clean water and clean government and this contract process definitely speaks to the clean government aspect of what we do.”