Tue, Jul 16, 2019
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Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
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Blue Array accuses Department of Ecology of favoritism and bid-rigging

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Blue Array has filed complaints of ethics violations against the Department of Ecology (DOE) for what they claim have been deliberate efforts to undermine the Vader-based company while allegedly colluding with Blue Array’s competitors.

Filed Sept. 8, the complaint lists a total of 19 specific claims Blue Array co-owners James Reilly and Victoria Jelderks feel have violated state laws prohibiting the use of public resources for personal benefit.

In the complaint, it is stated DOE has not been supporting Blue Array’s efforts to market its portable wastewater treatment system while the company seeks to solicit the business of Vader, Toledo and Morton, all three of whom are in need of sewer plant upgrades.

It is also stated Blue Array believes DOE is supporting and showing favor to Blue Array’s competitors, such as Gray & Osborne, and claims DOE has even gone as far as to rig bids for Gray & Osborne, though the complaint states Blue Array has no verifiable evidence of such crimes.

Evidence Blue Array did offer for the complaints includes correspondence with DOE officials Greg Zentner and Al Bolinger taking place since September, during which time Blue Array was attempting to encourage Morton and Toledo to undergo tests of a Blue Array system similar to what has been taking place in Vader since last year.

Blue Array specifically cited attempts to meet with DOE and Morton last month and said, when Bolinger declined an invitation to attend the meeting, this negatively reflected on the company in the eyes of Morton, according to second-hand accounts of statements made by Morton Superintendent of Public Works Keith Cournyer.

"Mr. Cournyer telephoned Ms. Jelderks and informed her Mr. Bolinger would not attend a meeting at Morton to discuss Blue Array," read the complaint. "He [Cournyer] further related that this caused him concern since it, in effect, sent a strong signal that Ecology might not approve a Blue Array solution for their WWTP [wastewater treatment plant] even if it solved the problem as well or better than alternatives."

The complaint went on to allege Bolinger did agree to meet with Morton on a different date when Gray & Osborne was present, and stated Bolinger and Zentner were dismissive during further request for follow-up as Blue Array attempted to discern why DOE was showing a "lack of cooperation" with Blue Array’s efforts.

"The only possible way to interpret these acts is in support of G-O [Gray & Osborne] obtaining a contract from Morton," wrote Reilly in an email to DOE Oct. 2, in which he accused Bolinger and Zentner of violating RCW 42.52.160 on the grounds they were using their offices to help Gray & Osborne gain unfair advantages over Blue Array’s attempts to market its services.

In a statement given Oct. 9, DOE Spokeswoman Linda Kent confirmed the complaint had been received and is currently being reviewed by the Executive Ethics Board.

"We expect the Board will do a thorough review and they will determine if an investigation is to be pursued," she said, stating her department will offer the Board any additional information they request during the course of review.

She added Bolinger and Zentner will maintain their current positions within DOE until such time as an investigation is warranted, and then their future within the department will depend on the nature of the investigation.

No remedy to the alleged violations was offered by Blue Array in their complaint, though it was stated by Reilly in the Oct. 2 email he would expect Bolinger and Zentner to lose their jobs if such violations were found to have taken place.

In the mean time, Toledo officials have stated they are disinterested in doing business with Blue Array in light of what they claim have been unprofessional and crass emails from Reilly, while Vader is expected to discuss a memorandum of understanding Tuesday, which could allow them to officially contract with Blue Array for services. Morton Mayor James Gerwig has said his city’s interest in Blue Array has only been exploratory and said it is too early to state if his council, who has yet to hear a presentation from the company, would be willing to accept the services of Blue Array.

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