Levee Certification

Filed under: John Haas,Kevin Johnson,Nicholas Basham,PORTSMOUTH,Uncategorized — tkm June 18, 2010 @ 10:0 am

I’m taking a break from involvement in city affairs while we are remodeling our home but I felt the issue of Levee Certification, dealt with in the letters and records posted below, was too important to let slip by.  These records are public information and what they remind us is that John Haas and Nicholas Basham are doing the dirty work for the greedy multi-millionaire lawyers and real estate developers who control Portsmouth economically and politically.  If I needed a lawyer I would never hire anyone as incompetent as 5th Ward Councilperson John Haas.  And if I had a student in any school where Nicholas Basham was a teacher I would transfer them to another school, I would want my children to be taught by teachers with better habits, principles, and judgment than Basham’s.  Haas and Basham are receiving no more scrutiny from the lying Portsmouth Daily Times than Kalb and Mearan did. That’s my opinion, anyway.

I will have two attachments that will have information concerning the Levee Certification –checking back later.

This morning’s Portsmouth Daily Times article titled “Haas Questions Levee Certification Firm” (see http://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/view/full_story/7953113/article-Haas-Questions-Levee-Certification-Firm?instance=home_news_lead) may have led you to believe that I discounted the possibility of obtaining a lower cost for our project to certify our flood protection system in accordance with new FEMA criteria; new criteria developed following the failure of flood protection systems in New Orleans related to Hurricane Katrina.

Quite the contrary. Though I am indeed concerned about utilizing local contractors and employees, please note my response (below) to Councilman Haas’ email that was referenced in the Daily Times article. Though my response was shared with the press within half an hour of Mr. Haas’ email, my issues were not referenced in the Daily Times article.

A bit of background. As was referenced by the Mayor at Monday’s Council meeting, three bids were obtained for this Levee certification project; one of which came in at over $1 million. Mr. Jeff Peck, P.E. met with Howerton Engineering and Environmental Engineering Services (EES) to negotiate a combined contract which lowered the low bid from approximately $750,000 to $630,000 for Phase I testing, modeling and analyses. For those of you who have the time and inclination, attached are two documents relating to FEMA criteria. The three bids are public documents, by the way; and all citizens have the right to review them.

What occurred at Monday night’s meeting, as regards the FEMA certification contract, was yet another ambush. The ONLY documentation provided by Councilman Basham and New Boston City Administrator Steve Hamilton was a listing of contractors (four pages long). Mr. Haas, in his email, asks “Was Mr. Peck completely unaware of the list of companies submitted at last night’s counsel meeting?” This is a specious question. No government is required to issue bids to some forty engineering firms around the country.

It was “suggested” that Mr. Hamilton had received a lower bid from AMEC of Nashville, TN. No documentation of any kind was presented to support this suggestion. The inference made by Mr. Basham was that the Mayor and Jeff Peck, P.E., did not do their job in establishing and following a proper bid process; an inference not supported by the facts.

In addition, Mr. Basham questioned the utilization of sub-contractors. The use of sub-contractors is an industry standard as most engineering firms, especially those local to us, specialize in various aspects of engineering. The same is true for building schools, automobiles, major military items (space shuttles, jets, ships) or other major projects; at the local, state and federal level. To combine various engineering firms with specific specialties as sub-contractors reporting to a primary contractor benefits the project and the entity paying the bills.

But, my biggest concern is that two members of Council would publicly question the levee certification firm and process without having done their homework. What kind of bid HAS New Boston obtained? Did their bid process follow our own criteria (bid specifications, minimum of three bids, etc.)? Have these members of Council reviewed and compared the bids received by the City as well as those received by New Boston?

Below you will find Councilman Haas’ original email, as referenced by the Daily Times article. I invited you to ascertain whether you might make an informed decision concerning this issue based upon the information he has presented or by that provided in the Daily Times article.

As stated in my email (in response to Mr. Haas) below, “I look forward to reviewing the Village of New Boston’s documentation at our next Council meeting; which I am sure you (Mr. Haas), Mr. Basham and Mr. Hamilton will provide.”



Kevin W. Johnson, Member
Portsmouth City Council – First Ward
1020 24th Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662-2822
740-876-8558 (cell 250-4710)

—– Original Message —–
From: Kevin W. Johnson
To: John Haas
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 6:00 PM
Subject: Re: FEMA requirements

I thank you, John, for your thoughts concerning FEMA bid and cost issues.

I shall assume that you and Councilman Basham have:

1) reviewed the FEMA documenation provided by the Mayor (as attached),

2) reviewed the three (3) bids received by the City to meet FEMA project requirements (as was offered Council by the Mayor last night),

3) reviewed the documentation and requirements statement developed by the Village of New Boston and the bid documentation received from AMEC of Nashville, TN, as was obviously provided to you by Mr. Steve Hamilton, New Boston Village Administrator, and

4) compared the City’s documentation with that of New Boston to establish that what New Boston has been offered is comparable to the requirements in the City’s bid package.

Assuming, again, that you have done so, and the Village of New Boston truly has a better cost solution in hand, then we should indeed look again at this issue.

I look forward to reviewing the Village of New Boston’s documentation at our next Council meeting; which I am sure you, Mr. Basham and Mr. Hamilton will provide.



Kevin W. Johnson
1020 24th Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662-2822
740-876-8558 (cell 250-4710)

—– Original Message —–
From: John Haas
To: Media and City Officials
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 5:33 PM
Subject: RE: FEMA requirements

Madam Mayor and the prestigious list of honorable council members, prospective and current contractors and press:

One would think the requirements for New Boston would be the same as Portsmouth since it is the same system. Was Mr. Peck completely unaware of the list of companies submitted at last night’s counsel meeting? Have you had any conversations since the May 24 council meeting with Mr. Hamilton in New Boston about who they are looking at for the project and why they are apparently going a different direction?

Late last week, I heard that New Boston found a firm that was very experienced in performing the FEMA studies and that they were much cheaper than any number bandied about by the current or prior administration. Nick Basham deserves our thanks for doing the follow up and bringing that firm and the list of several others to your attention prior to the authorization of expenditures to Howerton. It would could have been very embarrassing to all of us if we proceeded to overpay a firm with admittedly no experience on this FEMA study only to have it pointed out later we could have hired an experienced firm for much less.

Perhaps after investigating the firm New Boston hired or is considering hiring, they will not turn out to be the lowest or best bid. At that point, I will feel we complied with our due of due diligence expected of us who serve in public office. I believe that when we are spending taxpayer’s money we need to investigate all options and not call members of council “asinine” for asking questions.

John R. Haas
From: Jane Murray [mailto:mayormurray@portsmouthoh.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 2:50 PM
To: City Officials
Subject: FEMA requirements

Council has been given the attached previously. But, in case you need it again, these are the requirements for levee certification and form the basis of the scope of work for the contract with Howerton Engineering.

Mayor Jane Murray
City of Portsmouth, OH
728 Second Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662

From: “Kevin W.W. Johnson”
Date: June 16, 2010 8:45:08 AM EDT
Subject: June 14 Council Meeting

Once again I feel it necessary to communicate additional information concerning actions by our City Council.

Monday’s meeting was a financial ambush on the Mayor, City Department heads and employees. What you read in this morning’s Portsmouth Daily Times told but part of the story.

For context, understand that the issue is our CIP (Capital Improvements Project) budget. Five weeks ago it was introduced at the Mayor’s Conference Agenda meeting and three weeks ago it was discussed at length by Council with the Mayor and Department heads. Numerous cuts were made three weeks ago, with participation and agreement by the Mayor and Department heads.

Our meeting this past Monday was for the CIP’s second reading. Imagine everyone’s surprise when, first, Mr. Haas made sweeping deletions to the first portion of the CIP (verbally, not in writing). Ostensibly, this move was to bring our budget in line with income. However, CIP funds may NOT be utilized in the General Fund (salaries, etc.) so cutting the CIP budget, for items such as road repair and equipment for our employees to accomplish their jobs does NOT impact our $1.2 million deficit. (See the Times article for cost details).

Then Mr. Basham introduced even more cuts (and some interesting additions) to the second portion of the CIP… making cuts that would have devastated Main Street Portsmouth and downtown redevelopment, eliminated our participation in (and designation by) Tree City USA and much, much more. At least, however, Mr. Basham’s proposals were in writing, so that Council could review them. (Again, see the Times article for cost details.)

Understand that there is a process in management that calls for communicating major changes to fellow members of Council so that we (on Council) and the PUBLIC are not caught off guard by last minute introductions of major change. Messrs. Basham and Haas had three weeks to provide Council and the public with an indication of their proposals. They chose, instead, to lead a tandem ambush on Council and the public with their sweeping “surprise” changes. Fortunately, certain of the City’s Department heads and community leaders were in attendance to counter and provide real facts and information to members of Council.

I was, to put it mildly, disgusted; and voiced this opinion loud and clear. You will not note this in press reports.

Finally – Mr. Basham indicated he had contacted various employees of the City for the information detailed in his cuts (and additions): bypassing the Mayor and all Department heads (such interference is forbidden by City Charter, by the way), leading Mr. Bill Beaumont to publicly chastise Mr. Basham for going behind his back and claiming that employees were afraid to voice their concerns to Department heads. Again, no mention of this in press reports.

I’ll be writing more after our next Council meeting. It is important to me that you be made aware of what is going on in the background and have historical context to what is now going on.



Kevin W. Johnson, Member
Portsmouth City Council – First Ward
1020 24th Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662-2822
740-876-8558 (cell 250-4710)