Company seeks to clarify Weigel matterThe head of a company entangled in the firing of Fargo Public Works director Al Weigel is calling on city leaders to retract what he claims were false statements made about the company.
By: By Mike Nowatzki , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
The head of a company entangled in the firing of Fargo Public Works director Al Weigel is calling on city leaders to retract what he claims were false statements made about the company.
Epic Solutions CEO Jeff Wilkens said he sent his six-page letter to all five members of the Fargo City Commission, claiming the city made “harmful and defamatory” comments about Epic during the review that led to Weigel’s firing and the appeals process that followed.
Wilkens ends the letter by asking for a meeting to go through the items and issues raised by the city.
“I think that Epic deserves the right to clarify and correct the false statements made and Epic feels the city needs to retract the false statements made,” the letter states.
City Commissioner Brad Wimmer said Monday he would recommend the city meet with Epic officials to clear up billing issues and decide whether the city should continue to do business with the company.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff going on with them, so it seems foolish to me to cut it completely unless it’s absolutely not workable,” he said.
Fargo’s Civil Service Commission on Friday upheld the firing of Weigel, who was accused of violating the city’s purchasing policy by steering city business to Epic without seeking bids or quotes. The city paid Epic more than $214,000 from 2007 to 2009.
City officials said Weigel had a conflict of interest because he, Wilkens and Epic Vice President Tim Marthe are partners in Quad Investments, which leases space to Epic.
Weigel hasn’t said whether he will appeal his firing to the full City Commission.
Much of Wilkens’ letter is technical in nature, explaining the different projects Epic did for the city’s Public Works Department — work he suggests has been oversimplified as a “GPS system.”
In fact, the work included installing monitoring equipment in supervisors’ trucks to display atmosphere and road conditions, installing application controllers for sanding trucks and plows and developing global positioning system software for de-icing equipment, sanders and plow trucks, Wilkens wrote in the letter, a copy of which he provided to The Forum.
Wilkens also claims City Administrator Pat Zavoral made a false statement to the Civil Service Commission when Zavoral said the city had paid $13,000 to Epic for five GPS loggers but hadn’t received them, adding “we’re a little confused about that.”
Wilkens pointed out that City Attorney Erik Johnson told Epic in a March 19 letter to refund the city’s $13,040 and immediately discontinue any activities on behalf of the city.
“Why would the city be confused and waiting for products they ordered from Epic when they told Epic not to do anything more until a decision can be made regarding further implementation?” Wilkens wrote, adding it “demonstrates another case in which the city slanders Epic’s name to the commission and the public with clearly no supporting documentation.”
Johnson said Monday that Epic officials haven’t responded to his March 19 letter and haven’t refunded the money. He said he hasn’t seen the letter from Wilkens, in which Wilkens offers to deliver the loggers at the city’s request.
“We’re considering our alternatives,” Johnson said. “I think it’s quite obvious the city is entitled to something.”
Wilkens and Marthe were jointly interviewed by the forensic accounting firm hired by the city to investigate the Weigel matter. Notes from the interview were included in the report that led to Weigel’s firing, a copy of which was provided to the Civil Service Commission.
“They certainly had an opportunity to have input,” Johnson said.
Mike Nowatzki is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.