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State clears DOE of wrongdoing after Blue Array complaint

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Allegations of bid rigging and collusion brought by Blue Array against two Department of Ecology (DOE) employees have been deemed unfounded by the Washington Executive Ethics Board (EEB) and the complaints have been dismissed.

First filed Sept. 8 of last year, complaints against Greg Zentner, supervisor of Ecology’s Municipal Operations Unit, and Al Bolinger, environmental engineer, alleged the two had been using public resources to assist Olympia-based engineering firm Gray & Osborne in the company’s attempts to market themselves to local cities while, at the same time, denying such assistance and opportunities to Blue Array, a Vader-based startup company promising low-cost wastewater treatment alternatives.

The complaint had been filed amid Blue Array’s efforts to begin generating income after parting ways in July with former financial backer JH Kelley, of Longview, and attempts had been made to solicit the business of cities such as Vader, Toledo, and Morton.

Blue Array had argued their efforts, particularly those in Morton, were curtailed by Zentner and Bolinger, who were alleged to have held meetings with Morton officials to which Gray & Osborne had been invited and Blue Array had not, while declining to support Blue Array’s efforts to set up similar meetings for their company.

While examining the facts at hand, EEB concluded these meetings had not been sales attempts, as interpreted by Blue Array, but rather "part of an on-going set of regularly-scheduled meetings facilitated by [the Department of] Commerce as part of their small community initiative," stated EEB in a March 14 report of their findings in the matter.

The report also stated Zentner and Bolinger had been invited as representatives of DOE because the subject of discussion was to be wastewater treatment, and Gray & Osborne had been in attendance to fill their role as consulting engineers for the city, not as potential vendors.

"There was no evidence to indicate that [Zentner nor Bolinger] did anything outside of the scope of his official duties or that he used state resources for personal gain or to promote or support any outside entity," stated the report, recommending the board find no reasonable cause a violation had occurred.

Since the time the report was filed, Blue Array has dissolved as an entity due to its former owners’, James Reilly and Victoria Jelderks, inability to meet financial obligations to JH Kelly, resulting from their buyout of Blue Array in July. The debt to JH Kelley had defaulted Jan. 1 and it was reported March 13 by Vader Mayor Ken Smith that Blue Array had been acquired in-full by JH Kelley and was summarily dissolved.

When asked to reflect on the board’s findings, Reilly said he had been informed by EEB in January they would likely not be able to provide the outcome he was seeking, and Reilly said they advised him a civil suit may be more appropriate.

With regard to Blue Array and either his or Jelderk’s plans for the future, Reilly declined to comment.

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