Deal angers local loggers

Companies that won contracts say they aim to hire area businesses

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Information about federal contracting opportunities is at fedbizopps.gov.

Millions of dollars in stimulus money is coming to Routt County's forests, but local loggers don't know if they'll see any of it.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act gave $2.2 million to the Routt National Forest to remove beetle-killed trees in Routt, Jackson and Grand counties, according to a news release. The money represents the first 10 percent of stimulus-funded projects. The tree-removal contracts went to companies in California and Florida, upsetting some local loggers.

The U.S. Forest Service had only seven days to award the contracts, said Diann Ritschard, spokeswoman for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests & Thunder Basin National Grassland. The Small Business Administration keeps a list of 8(a) contractors, or socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses.

"They are already in the system and ready to bid on projects," Ritschard said. The Forest Service's regional office, not the local office, handled the process, she said.

Sierra Nevada Forestry Service, of Yuba City, Calif., and Sweat Inc., of Pensacola, Fla., won the contracts. Officials from both said they planned to seek local subcontractors for the tree removal projects. They want companies that have equipment and meet strict safety standards, however.

"I understand being local and wanting to do local work; that's very understandable," Sweat Inc. owner Robert Sweat said. "We're just going to do everything we can to be in compliance and use the local help."

Marisa Acevedo, of Sierra Nevada Forestry Service, declined to comment beyond what she said in a news release.

In that statement, she said the company "will make an earnest effort in hiring and/or subcontracting to local companies who are qualified and possess the equipment necessary to accomplish hazard tree removal."

The money will go to remove roadside hazard trees from Forest Road 100, Forest Road 550, Forest Road 80 and Forest Roads 681, 689 and 600 in the Big Creek Lakes area near Walden, according to the Forest Service. Ritschard said the local ranger districts were making a list of local companies they could call for smaller projects that don't require bids.

Dan Shaffer, a logger from Clark, said he was frustrated that no local companies even had a chance to bid on the tree removal.

"We've got loggers sitting around here on our hands," Shaffer said.

He said it was unnecessary to hire out-of-state contractors even if they subcontract to locals. The Forest Service could have cut out the middleman by contracting locally from the get-go, Shaffer said. The big profits will wind up in Florida and California, he said.

Frank Gerken owns Routt County Logging and heard about the contracts from Shaffer. He said he was booked this summer and didn't plan to bid on the work. Still, he's afraid this could become a trend.

"We're going to have out-of-state contractors again coming in and doing at least the oversight work that could have been done locally," Gerken said. "So what you've done is added another layer of cost and another layer of management to the project. : Why not just bid it out to start with and save money for the U.S. Treasury?"

Some regional companies hope to benefit from the projects. Dennis Hutson, co-owner of Forest Products Inc. in Walden, said he could use the work.

"We're unemployed loggers right now," Hutson said. "We went from a crew of nine people to my partner and myself. We're trying to survive."

He said he contacted the Forest Service to get the skinny on the way it awarded the contracts. Hutson said he was told that using the 8(a) contractors allowed the agency to push through the deal fast enough to get the stimulus money.

"I'm not happy about it, but it was explained to me, and I guess I can understand their end of it," he said.

Sweat, the Florida logger, said his company was open to hearing from locals. He plans to start on the work here as soon as it's dry enough.

Sweat said he was aware of the concerns coming from Northwest Colorado loggers.

"Really, with the economy the way it is, I totally understand," Sweat said. "I mean, I'm a working guy."

Comments

aichempty 5 years, 8 months ago

Well, those in our community who believe the role of the government is to right social wrongs and mold society and all that socialist crap should take special note that their tax dollars are going to be filtered through the "small and disadvantaged business" sieve (meaning minority and women owned businesses) so that they can hire local subcontractors and skim off compensation for having been born female and/or non-caucasian.

The first thing that will happen is that some of the folks from Pensacola will show up and get sick from the effects of altitude. The ones who are not used to driving in the mountains (that would be all of them, most likely) will end up in a pile of wreckage at dead-man's curve coming down from Rabbit Ears Pass.

Special note to bicyclists: You're going to have people from Florida possibly driving logging trucks on your precious county roads. You might not want to challenge them regarding the right of way, because they're not used to people who don't understand that cutting off an 18-wheeler on grounds of legal right and moral assertion of individual liberty won't stop a logging truck from running over them.

This is your government's way of righting past wrongs by spreading tax money around to people who supposedly are at a competitive disadvantage. Our local loggers should just be happy that the guy in Pensacola has enough sense to subcontract local companies rather than drive his stuff 2000 miles to figure out the brakes need work.

The way to get in on the bounty in the future is to marry a woman, preferably a minority female, put 51% of the business in her name, and get on the list. That's how everybody else gets around it.

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1999 5 years, 8 months ago

aich...do you ever wonder why you can't get a date?

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

A lot of the affirmitive action projects result in the Contractor hiring all the work done and skimming the cream. The government will probably ensure that a profit is there, regardless of performance. O is just rewarding another voter. The local contractors will not be covered by the socialist umbrella though.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 8 months ago

Fred - You of all people should have support for this. The project was sent out for bid. And, a couple of large companies got the deal. Isn't that the definition of the free market? This is exactly what you have supported with all of your political rants. What does Obama have to do with this? Or, is everything you don't agree with the new President's fault.

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aichempty 5 years, 8 months ago

Dukester,

Unfortunately, Fred is right again.

Sent out for bids to a subset of contractors, in other words, those that qualify for special treatment based upon classification by our government that they are "disadvantaged." This means that nobody in the free market will hire them because they are chicks or minorities, so the government gives them preference.

This is not the fault of the present administration. It goes back at least to Carter, and probably to Kennedy or Johnson.

So, the result is that we limit competition and sometimes drive up cost in the name of social justice --- and stuff.

999,

I could do with a few less, thinking back on it.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

The idea that "time" was the critical constraint in the age of the Internet is simply ridiculous. The bid specs --- hell, they're just cleaning out trees along the ROWs of public roads --- were as simple as pie.

A competent administrator or beauracrat could have posted the bid specs to the Forest Service website, contacted all logging companies in NW Colorado, taken out an ad in the local papers and solicited competitive bids.

They could have set aside 15% of the work for HUBs (historically underutilized businesses) and let the balance of the work to the lowest bidders (in bite size pieces if necessary).

This is typical government laziness and local loggers should not stand for it. Local politicians should be outraged.

It is this kind of nonsensical waste of our tax money that has driven the brewing frustration with our government and which will continue to build until there is a powerful push back (I don't want to say "revolution" cause the DHS might think I am a crazy right wing extrememist being a vet and all. LOL)

Give them hell, loggers! Get off your duffs, Colorado politicians!

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe a tea party at the USFS is in order. I don't think anything else will produce more than a PR blitz from our quasi socialist leaders.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

What's wrong w/ Colorado politicians that would allow stimulus $$$ to be spent in Colorado and end up in the pockets of folks from California and Florida?

That's ridiculous. This is exactly what elected representatives are supposed to do --- represent the interests of their citizens and constitutents with the Federal government!

Get pissed and get angry --- but don't be a right wing extrememist! LOL

Really, raise hell! This is simply ridiculous.

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aichempty 5 years, 8 months ago

JLM,

The "time" constraint has to do with government contracting requirements for letting bids, getting back proposals, evaluating proposals and awarding the contract. Using a list of 'qualified' contractors already approved makes it all happen faster. Speed was apparently the requirement for the stimulus funds, so the people around here will have to be grateful for what trickles down to them from the prime contractor because otherwise there would have been no money at all.

Government procurement is designed to prevent fraud, waste and abuse while providing loopholes that favor socialist objectives such as equal opportunity and economic development among the minority and female populations. The fact that nobody around here is in that category ought to tell you something about how good we have it according to the real conditions in the rest of the country. Either that, or welcome to the club; now you know what the government does to people running legitimate businesses that keeps them from being able to expand, hire people, and bring better jobs and wages to the Yampa Valley.

And these are the guys people want running the health care programs? Yeah, good luck with that.

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Scott Berry 5 years, 8 months ago

Duke bets, nice try but once again you don't get it! This is a perfect example of government waste in the name of the disadvantaged and expediency. It certainly doesn't represent an open market system and definitely not a system of economic efficiency.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

Chances are that all eight of the contractors got a piece of the pie. Their main qualification was probably having a representative in Washington that was in an advantageous position. They could have bid locally with no loss of time. I have been dealing with affirmative action longer than I can remember. During the eighties Glenwood Canyon took the main share of revenue for district three with CDOT. In order to get the quota most of the jobs in this area were available to disadvantaged businesses only. So when a project in my backyard came out I could'nt bid. Brent, if you want a good story, and an education, follow this story vis the freedom of information act.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 8 months ago

nocommoncents - I do get it.........This practice began in the 60's. It didn't just come about with this new contract and Obama is not rewarding anyone as Fred suggested. That was my point.

Geez

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aichempty 5 years, 8 months ago

Dooker,

Au contraire, mon amis! (That means, "Wait just a #@### second!)

If the stimulus funds require "quick" letting of contracts, then that is a pure pipeline to the contractors who are 8(a) businesses and are listed in the GSA schedules. They receive preference for such work by being "pre qualified" and "disadvantaged" so that by default, more minority and woman owned busiesses are in line for stimulus money. It's far easier to hire them quickly to perform a contract than to go out for a general bid to the world, so requiring the stimulus funds to be spent quickly shoe-horns that money to the minority-owned businesses.

It's brilliant. Reverse discrimination raised to a high art!

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aichempty 5 years, 8 months ago

OOH! OOH! I left out that it's a spectacular way to achieve redistribution of income from mainstream to minority businesses. It's freakin' brilliant!

And before the conspiracy theory accusers get going on me, it may not be a conscious decision by the folks in Washington, but look at the effects. Can't argue with that one.

This is a great way to make sure that big, successful businesses have to give up a share of the bounty to their smaller competition. Too bad we can't do that around here to keep the Mom and Pop shops open and competing with Wal-Mart and the other chain stores.

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Martha D Young 5 years, 8 months ago

This is a reminder of how the contracts have been awarded to U.S. companies during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Have you read about all the money that has disappeared and the lack of oversight of the chosen contractors? It's not just the minority and "chick" run companies that get special treatment. Our senators and congress members were asleep at the wheel when the logging contracts were offered for bid.

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aichempty 5 years, 8 months ago

marthalee,

Halliburton and Schlumberger (sp?) were the only two companies operating at the time who could have filled the needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe Schlumberger is a French company . . . need I say more? They are both in the business of supporting enterprises like oil field operations in remote areas with housing, food, sanitary facilities, security, etc. They had the people and organizations already in place to be able to provide non-combat support to our troops.

During the Clinton administration, the decision was made to reduce troop numbers and replace "support" functions with contractors. So, instead of having Army PFCs doing laundry and heating up cans of decade-old spaghetti and meat balls for chow for the rest of the Company, those roles were designated for "non-combatants" to fill. So, when we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, that included having to obtain civilian support for non-combat functions and Halliburton just happened to be in the right place at the right time, no matter how they got there (intentional act by Dick Cheney, or just a coincidence).

The idea is that you pay a contractor during the itme you need support, and it may cost more right then, but it costs less than keeping extra soldiers on the payroll all the time and paying their medical, retirement costs, etc., for the rest of their lives if they serve 20 years or more and then retire. It's like hiring a guy to paint your house and paying him more than you'd pay your own kid to do the job, because hiring a painter once every ten years is cheaper than raising a kid and supporting him to hang around until your house needs painting.

So, in effect, we took the savings of the Clinton years and spent some of them on Halliburton, but in the long run, it will be cheaper . . . right . . .

If you're going to buy airplanes and you need them in a hurry, you go to Boeing, Airbus, Fokker, Embraer or DeHavilland. If you're the U S government, you'd, uh, better be buying them from Boeing instead of sending money overseas to Airbus or the others. Get the point? So when the need arose in Iraq and Afghanistan, Halliburton was the only U S company that was already big enough and in business to do the job. Hiring someone else would have required them to set up their business and get going, wherease Halliburton was ready to go. That's why they got the job. And it's Bill Clinton's fault . . .

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

Haliburton had enough and sold their operation, it was not worth the hassle.

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