Was the Windham School Admin and Board colluding with Cenergistic?

by Kimberly Morin

windhamschooldistrictthepatchAlthough Cenergistic has pulled its proposal out of the Windham School District for consideration, there is other interesting information that was discovered through a Right-to-Know request.  If you recall, Cenergistic proposed a $577,000 contract to “change energy behavior” in the Windham School District.  The proposal was literally shoved through the Windham School Board without the members reviewing the contract and without public input.

Three members of the board decided to vote on the proposal without detailed information: Chairman Rekart, Mike Joanis and Dennis Senibaldi.  Ken Eyring voted against it and Rob Breton abstained.  The proposal was being pushed by Business Administrator Adam Steel.  During the meeting Rekart actually called the police on Facilities Committee member Tom Murray for speaking “out of turn” at the meeting.  The train wreck that followed has been detailed and documented by this author in multiple articles.

After further reviewing the emails that were sent back and forth between Cenergistic and Adam Steel, it appears that it was more than just a “backroom deal”.  It appears Steel was colluding with Cenergistic although it isn’t apparent why.  Steel works for the taxpayers of Windham.  He is supposed to be saving money and running the school district in an efficient and effective manner that benefits students.  What follows are excerpts from emails between Steel and Cenergistic.

12/10/14 – Mr. Adam Steel to Cenergistic’s Dell D. Warren, Jr.:

…For the Windham School District, our Board typically requires a competitive process to select vendors for service of this type.  I would like to avoid that requirement for this circumstance as I am not confident there are other capable vendors in the area.

On 12/15/14 – Mr. Warren’s response to Mr. Steel included Cenergistic’s self-declaration that they are a “Sole Source” provider:

Good Evening Adam, As per our conversations, attached you will find
1) Our Sole Source Letter.
2) Our response to your inquiry regarding a contract adjustment.
3) The Partnership contract for Cenergistic and Windham.

What did Mr. Steel mean that he “would like to avoid that requirement?”  The purchasing policies of the School Board are written to protect the interests of the district and taxpayers.  According to Policy BGF “Suspension of Policies”:

The policies of the Board are subject to suspension only upon a majority vote of the entire Board membership at a meeting for which the proposed suspension has been described in writing, or upon a unanimous vote of the entire Board membership when no such written notice has been given.

On 1/6/15, the Windham School Board directed Steel (3-1-1) to sign the no-bid $577K contract that they had never seen.  In the public firestorm that ensued, Cenergistic called in Gary Davis, Senior VP of Communications. Mr. Davis emailed Steel on 1/15/15 and said he found several links to WLMW-FM’s “Girard at large” show (this author’s “Politically Buzzed” weekly segment), and that he was working on a company statement that he would share when completed.  These were reports this author made after breaking the story.

Davis followed up with another email, which suggests a coordinated PR effort with the Windham School District, including help for Windham School Board Member Dennis Senibaldi to prepare for a “talk show appearance”:

I have attached the statement we’ll be using with media to address issues from the blog post in the Examiner.com

I also have attached a summary of the negative issues raised most frequently about our company. I figured Dennis would want to be aware of our responses so he doesn’t get surprised.

Please let me know what additional information I can provide in advance of our 9 a.m. Meeting tomorrow and Dennis’ talk show appearance.

More strategizing suggestions were provided in a 2/5/15 email from Cenergistic’s Lynn Pace, Senior Vice President, National Sales, due to the deal not being consummated:

Partnering with Cenergistic has become a distraction for the district rather than a positive initiative around which all could rally

District leadership has vetted Cenergistic, but public perception differs

Program success could be jeopardized if district leadership changes and support subsequently wavers

As the district defers moving forward, we will gladly work with you to develop a  statement… without disparaging Cenergistic or agreeing with any of the negative and inaccurate statements that have been made…

This information is important as it shows that neither Steel nor some members of the Windham District School Board were acting in the best interest of Windham.  With school board elections coming up, voters need to know exactly what they are getting with existing members who blindly vote on contracts they haven’t seen with a company that has made “backroom deals” with Windham’s unelected business administrator.

Both Chairman Rekart and Mike Joanis voted for the unseen Cenergistic contract.  Rather than questioning and verifying the information they were given, they simply voted based on the self-imposed “no bid” contract Steel pushed forward.  How many other issues have come up that these board members simply voted through without being sure it was in the best interest of Windham students and taxpayers?

The only collusion that should be occurring on the Windham School Board is between members and the public they represent.  These people are supposed to protect the interests of Windham, not sell them to the highest bidder.  Voters ought to think twice when going to the voting booth on March 10th. Windham children and taxpayers deserve better.

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