Calvin Walker alleges bid rigging at BISD
Beaumont Independent School District contract electrician Calvin Walker issued an April 16 letter to Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams alleging three former BISD employees attempted to tamper with the bid process to keep him from doing business with the school district in 2006. One of the employees Walker names, former purchasing director Patty Attaway, says in actuality it was to Walker’s benefit the bids were tampered with in 2006, the year Walker was first awarded the BISD electrical contract that has since resulted in millions of dollars in payments to Walker’s Electric Company.
Walker alleges that in 2006, BISD business office employees – finance director Jane Kingsley, assistant superintendent Terry Ingram, and purchasing director Attaway – tried to keep his company from acquiring the BISD electrical contract because the trio wanted to secure business with a different company. In contrast, Attaway said Walker was not originally the lowest bidder and would not have been awarded the BISD contract had it not been for the “miraculous” appearance of a subsequent Walker bid that found its way into Attaway’s bid packet folder after the bidding had closed. With the immaculate conception of the second bid, Walker was able to undercut the low bidder already noted by Attaway’s office by approximately 25 cents an hour, Attaway said.
In the April 16 letter to TEA Commissioner Williams, Walker said he wanted to set the record straight as to his ties with the Beaumont Independent School District and why he felt BISD’s current troubles trace back to him. Walker addressed Commissioner Williams as having “heard my name a few times since you’ve been in office,” but insisted that his nefarious reputation only had its genesis with vengeful competitors, asserting that, “I can assure you all of this madness was generated because I obtained BISD’s electrical contract.”
In Walker’s version of events, “It all began in May 2006 …
“BISD posted a REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP) in the newspaper for maintenance/repair of electrical services. I placed a bid along with three other contractors. … because no one ever bid on the contract against the IBEW (the electrical contractor of record was Gold Crest) before, they were sure no one was ever going to bid against them. Well, they were wrong. In fact, Walker’s Electric was the lowest bidder. Instead of Kingsley enforcing her rules she placed on the front of the bid proposal, she contacted Gold Crest and told them a company called Walker’s Electric under bid them (all). Jane (Kingsley) would not issue me the contract at that time. She stated some of the contractors did not sign the bid and others forgot to place their insurance requirements in the packets.”
Walker asserted to Commissioner Williams that grassroots lobbying by hatemongers in Beaumont has led to the smearing of his good name by “all of the media outlets – newspaper, radio, television – law enforcement, including the U.S. Attorneys office. Since I was awarded this contract, they have thrown the BBB, IBEW, FBI, state comptroller, TDLR, LBB, IRS and a few others, and now the TEA.”
Walker told Williams that, “I’m not trying to play a race card here, but we wouldn’t have a race card had they not put it in the deck in the first place.
“It’s clear they feel the only real way to take down a black man is to use another black man.”
Former purchasing director Attaway said Walker was indeed told that he would not be awarded the contract in 2006 – but the main problem was not red tape. She said it was the fact that she believed someone tampered with the bid packet and inserted a revised bid proposal from Walker that was drastically different from the bid provided while the bid was still open.
“I was purchasing agent for BISD from August 1984 until Nov. 14, 2007,” Attaway told The Examiner. “I have a much different recollection of the events that transpired during the May 2006 bid. I was absent due to illness the day of the bid opening. The next morning after the bid opening, my secretary came to me very upset and explained what had transpired.
“My secretary had opened the bids at the appointed time. Mr. Walker was the only bidder in attendance. After the bids were read, Mr. Walker told my secretary he had turned in the wrong copy of his bid and had left the correct copy at home. He wanted to go home and get it and bring it back. She told him no, that she could not accept any bids after the bid opening and he would have to come back in the morning and talk to Mrs. Attaway.
“He requested copies of the bids, which were now considered public information. She went down to the copier room, removed the staples from each bid, copied them, then paper clipped the bids back together because there was no stapler in the copy room. She came back to the office, handed Mr. Walker his copies and put the paper clipped original bids back into the bid folder. Based on the paper clipped bids my secretary had copied for Mr. Walker, he was not the lowest bidder.
“About an hour or so later, she was leaving work at the end of the day. She encountered Mr. Walker in the hall talking to one of the BISD Accounts Payable clerks. She thought it was odd he was still in the building. After she had clocked out, she got concerned because she had left the bid folders on the credenza behind her desk. She returned to her office and put the bid folder into the large file cabinet behind her credenza. She could not get the cabinet to lock.
“The next morning when she came to work, she took the folder out of the cabinet and discovered a second bid had magically appeared in the file overnight. Ironically it was stapled and not paper clipped like all the other bids in the folder. Mr. Walker’s new bid form miraculously had a bid price for the journeyman hourly rate that was slightly under the lowest bid that was opened the day before. I think it was 25 cents an hour lower on journeyman electricians.
“The really odd thing was the original bid Mr. Walker had submitted on the bid opening day was still in the bid folder and still paper clipped together. We now had two completely different bid forms with different prices from Mr. Walker on the same bid. I believe his original bid form made him the fourth lowest bidder and his second bid form (discovered in the file the day after the bid opening) made Mr. Walker the lowest bidder.
“Can you see my dilemma?”
Attaway said that after reviewing the bids with her staffer, Walker arrived at the BISD Administration Building wanting to talk to the purchasing director.
“When I talked with him, I explained that a second bid had been found that morning and I wasn’t sure what to make of it,” she said. “He was very insistent it had been there at the time of the bid opening. He was very pushy, and I felt he acted suspicious. It made no sense to me that Mr. Walker would turn in two bid forms with different bid pricing for the same bid.
“Both my secretary and I felt certain that Mr. Walker or someone he knew who worked in the Administration Building went into our offices after business hours and placed the second bid in the bid folder. Needless to say, we were both highly upset that someone had tampered with our files after hours, and we took the bid folder to our supervisor, Mrs. Jane Kingsley.
“We were told by Mrs. Kingsley that we could not tell anyone about our suspicions, particularly not to mention it to (Superintendent) Dr. (Carrol) Thomas. I prepared the bid tabulation with the highly irregular two different bids from Mr. Walker. In the process of reviewing all the paperwork and insurance documents attached to all the bids, I discovered a few discrepancies on Mr. Walker’s attachments and on the second lowest bidder’s (who I felt was the true low bidder). There may have even been a slight problem on a third bidder’s information. It was enough for me to be able to throw out the bids for irregularities and go out for a re-bid. To me, it was the only fair solution. Mrs. Kingsley agreed I could go out for a re-bid.”
Attaway said the re-bid process resulted in the other bidders submitting the same bids as before, with Walker submitting his “miracle bid number two.”
“Even though I was convinced Mr. Walker had tampered with files in my office after the first bid, he was the low bidder on the re-bid, so I had no choice but to recommend that the contract be awarded to him,” Attaway lamented.
“She’s a liar,” Walker said of Attaway’s assertions in an interview with The Examiner on April 23. “Patty Attaway was crooked. Jane Kingsley was crooked. Terry Ingram was crooked.
“They was very crooked back then. The way I gave it in writing … I stand behind that to the day I die.
“For (Attaway) to sit back and say that somehow those records got put in their files some kind of way, they need to do an FBI investigation. They do an FBI investigation on everything else. If they were to find something wrong, they need to pull it out and do something with it.”
Attaway said she did talk to federal investigators from the FBI when the U.S. Attorney’s Office was investigating Walker’s business dealing with BISD in 2011. At that time, investigators were looking into gross overbilling and invoice fraud Walker is alleged to have used to secure more than $3 million of taxpayer money from the school district.
FBI agent Tim Brewer stated that he started investigating Walker’s billing practices in 2010, finding reason to believe the electrical contractor violated several federal statutes – committing mail fraud, wire fraud, embezzlement of funds from an organization receiving federal funds, interstate transportation of funds taken by fraud, and money laundering. Walker was indicted in 2011 on 37 counts of the aforementioned crimes, but when the first trial of Walker ended in mistrial, Walker entered into a plea agreement with the federal government only admitting to failing to timely pay taxes on the millions of dollars received from BISD in 2009.
Walker said he was innocent of the charges launched against him by government officials controlled by political cronies. “I never defrauded the district, and everybody knows it,” he said. “Also, for the records, my taxes were paid on time. We just gave the U.S. Attorney’s Office a way out so they didn’t have to go back to court and make themselves look more like the liars they are.”
Federal investigators did not ask Attaway about Walker’s electrical contract with the school district entered into in 2006, she said, but added that she would be willing to speak with any investigator looking into the contract’s origination.
As far as the vastly conflicting stories of how Walker secured the electrical contract with BISD, Attaway said each individual would have to decide for themselves what story to believe.
“I will leave it to your readers to decide who in this scenario do they find to be the most credible — Patty Attaway or Calvin Walker,” she said.