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Consultant listed on Purcellville’s procurement quote sheet says she never submitted bid

Following Cynthia McAlister's reinstatement as Purcellville's chief of police last week, more alarming details about the situation have emerged.

The Times-Mirror has learned through documents received through a Freedom of Information Act request that at least one of the supposed procurement bids for HR services and an investigation – from Margie Hammer at Starfish Consulting – was a phantom bid.

Hammer today told the Times-Mirror she did not submit a bid for the investigation into McAlister as police chief. A document provided by the town and signed by Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas lists Hammer as bidding on the project.

A call placed to another supposed bidder, John Anzivino of Springsted Inc., found that Anzivino is no longer with the company.

The town's procurement procedures require at least three bids before a contract can be approved. According the the town's procurement posting and notification requirements, “All public contracts with nongovernmental contractors for the purchase or lease of goods, or for the purchase of services, insurance or construction, shall be awarded after competitive sealed bidding, or competitive negotiation.”

Vanegas responded to the Times-Mirror late Wednesday to say Hammer had forgotten their conversation where she had provided him with her hourly rate, but that Hammer did not have the "in-depth expertise in conducting HR investigation."

When she was called and asked again about the bid, Hammer said she had spoken to Vanegas, but it was "not clear" in their conversation this was an actual bid for the work. She would not disclose her hourly fee.

Bids from Hammer and Anzivino were reported to be at $100 per hour, and Georgia Nuckolls' bid came in at $75 per hour.

Nuckolls, the consultant hired as the HR investigator, was paid more than $13,000 over the month-long investigation.

Following the revelation that Nuckolls was convicted of several felonies in the late 1990s in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and had a relationship with a town employee involved with the investigation, her work will be re-done by an outside independent firm.

McAlister was fired Nov. 2 amid claims that she acted outside the scope of her duties and ran afoul of town policies and procedures, among other violations. She was reinstated as chief of police on Nov. 23 and is currently on paid administrative leave until the results of a second outside investigation are completed.

In addition, Vanegas – who hired Nuckolls for the job – has been placed on administrative leave.

Town officials say they are in the process of retaining an independent investigator to conduct an audit and investigation of actions taken by Vanegas over the last several months.

The investigation into McAlister was sparked after several members of the Purcellville Police Department's command staff told Vanegas about alleged procedural violations committed by the police chief.

The attorney representing McAlister in her termination grievance process against the town says he has “never seen an investigation so poorly done by a local government or police department” in his more than 18 years working with law enforcement departments and government agencies.

In response to questions about the process, Mayor Kwasi Fraser sent the following statement: “The mayor or town council was not engaged in the process and as such I was not aware of the bidders and their responses. The process was led by the interim town manager being that the chief of police reported to him. Our current process gives authority to the town manager to make certain procurement bid decisions specific to internal operations without bid review from town council. The planned investigation of the interim town manager will uncover what steps in the procurement process were not followed. In addition, we will be pursuing a comprehensive operational audit of key operational processes to identify areas for more oversight and improvement.”

Town Council, including the mayor, was responsible for hiring Vanegas.

Prior to his departure June 30, former town manager Rob Lohr said he had received “no substantiated complaints” against Chief McAlister when he was serving as town manager.

Former assistant town manager Danny Davis – who acted as a liaison between town administration and the police department – said he was surprised about the "no confidence" vote by the Town Council on Nov. 2 and said he had never once been contacted during the investigation into the police department's complaints.

Comments


There was no contract.  I think I am officially living in the richest, dumbest county. I can’t wait to see how this all comes down.  And everyone commenting here will be hiding.


Funny how no one on the Council thought to look at the contract. Maybe they all knew it was bogus. Either that or they are all too stupid to govern. Get rid of them all. Its time for the people of this great town of Purcellvile to clean the Town Hall’s house! Get rid of the town Council and especially the Mayor who is a spineless leader and can’t lead.
Jimmerson is another who does not know what she is doing. Vote her out, she is two faced and can’t be trusted! Nedim, I’m sure you are a smart guy when it comes to books, but you don’t have a clue of how to govern or deal with people. Please do us all a favor and step down, you are worthless. This whole mess makes me so mad. We should call our town Mayberry. VOTE THEM OUT!!!


LTM….keep chipping away at this story because something is certainly rotten with the entire set of circumstances regarding the procurement. It appears as if the formal bidding process was internally rigged in order award the contract for services (which the council has stated they authorized no such contract) to Georgia Nuckolls.


If you have an insider giving you other bids or putting in phony bids at $100, then why charge $50, make an extra $25 per hour and who will ever find out???? Good chance 1 or both will jail time.


A criminal HR consultant hired by the Town Manager who possibly forged bids for the investigation of a Police Chief….

I also find it interesting that “Georgia Nuckolls’ bid came in at $75 per hour,” but her Upwork.com profile says that she charges $50.00 per hour.

Is this House of Cards, Purcellville Addition?


This story is the gift that keeps on giving.  Great job LTM !!!


Even more reason to go to jail.  Buh-bye.

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