Thursday, April 23, 2015

Electrical contractor files $6.5 million lawsuit against Joplin R-8

A Lenexa, Kansas electrical contracting firm filed a $6.5 million countersuit against the Joplin R-8 School District Wednesday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Included in the documents filed with the countersuit are letters and e-mails which show that P1 warned Superintendent C. J. Huff and Universal Construction that delays in construction plus the push to make sure Joplin High School opened in August 2014 were going to cost plenty, including overtime, but the response was always full speed ahead.

An e-mail sent by Huff to P1 says that the Board of Education discussed P1's request for more money during a closed session in July 2014. If Huff was telling the truth about that discussion, that would indicate that the board acted illegally, since at that time there was no litigation involving P1 and the school district, and other documents indicate the district did not consult a lawyer until September, rhus the request should have been discussed in open session.

But the extra costs seem to have all been caused by the push to open the high school in August 2014, according to the countersuit:

Completion of P1 Group’s work on the Project was materially delayed as a result of actions by Joplin Schools, UCC, Corner Greer and/or other contractors, consultants or professionals hired by Joplin Schools.Joplin Schools was aware of the delays on the Project.

Because of the unavailability of other facilities for the students beginning in the fall of 2014, Joplin Schools could not extend the schedule for the Project to account for the delays. As a result of the delays, P1 Group’s work on the Project was accelerated as it had to perform its work in a compressed time frame.

Beginning in November 2013, P1 Group began working overtime on the Project at the direction of UCC in order to help reduce the impact of the delays on the Project attributable to persons other than P1 Group. P1 Group continued to work overtime at UCC’s direction until the new school opened.

On February 27, 2014, P1 sent a letter to Universal Construction, the company which managed the building project to warn it of the extra costs that were coming due to the construction delays. In an e-mail response, Universal blamed the project architect Corner Greer for delays. In a letter dated April 23, 2014, UCC told P1 that it thought its cost projections were 'OK,"  EIght days later, P1 sent a letter to the Joplin School District containing much of the information it had sent Universal.

Following two meetings with Joplin Schools in June, the company received a message from C. J. Huff, according to the countersuit:

On July 3, 2014, Joplin Schools’ Superintendent, Dr. CJ Huff sent an email to P1 Group advising that he had met with the Joplin School Board’s Facilities Committee and that he had talked with the individual members of the Facilities Committee. (Note: The committee consisted of Mike Landis and Jim Kimbrough.)

Dr. Huff reported that they were “comfortable” taking P1 Group’s request for compensation related to the directed acceleration to the School Board at the July 2014 meeting. On behalf of Joplin Schools, Dr. Huff requested P1 Group to provide a “not to exceed” number for the acceleration impacts through Project completion.

On July 11, 2014, in response to Dr. Huff’s email, P1 Group sent a letter to Joplin Schools, with a copy to UCC and Corner Greer, requesting a change order in the amount of $2,912,000 to cover the anticipated costs related to the delays and acceleration on the Project.

On July 22, 2014, Dr. Huff, on behalf of Joplin Schools, sent an email to P1 Group advising that he was presenting P1 Group’s request for compensation to the Board that evening and anticipated questions from the Board. Dr. Huff also advised that he appreciated P1 Group’s commitment to helping Joplin Schools achieve its goals.

On July 26, 2014, Dr. Huff, on behalf of Joplin Schools, sent an email to P1 Group advising that, as expected, the Board had a number of questions regarding P1 Group’s claim. Dr. Huff explained: “Due to the size of the billing, I think they just want to be comfortable that they can justify the expense when asked by patrons and the media.”

After classes began in August, P1 notified the district that more of its delays were going to increase the costs on the auditorium, which was still not finished.

By letter dated September 10, 2014, P1 Group notified Joplin Schools of delays and interferences related to completion of Area A – the Auditorium for the new High School. P1 Group notified Joplin Schools that P1 Group would seek compensation for these issues.

By email dated September 16, 2014, P1 Group was notified by Joplin Schools that due to the amount of P1 Group’s claims, Joplin Schools had retained a law firm to review P1 Group’s claims.
60. By letter dated October 29, 2014, Dr. Huff, on behalf of Joplin Schools, notified P1 Group that Joplin Schools was denying P1 Group’s request for additional compensation.

In the original lawsuit filed by the school district against P1, the district claims that P! was guilty of shoddy worksmanship, but there is no mention of anything of that sort in its dealings with the company itself.

P1 has continued working on the auditorium project and was still doing punch list items as the countersuit was filed.

P1's two-count suit charges the district with breach of contract and failure to make prompt payment.

Information about the original lawsuit filed by the R-8 School District can be found at this link.


Anonymous said...

Maybe someone will review the appropriate minutes to see what if anything was said about any closed session on that date.

"An e-mail sent by Huff to P1 says that the Board of Education discussed P1's request for more money during a closed session in July 2014. If Huff was telling the truth about that discussion, that would indicate that the board acted illegally, since at that time there was no litigation involving P1 and the school district, and other documents indicate the district did not consult a lawyer until September, rhus the request should have been discussed in open session."


Anonymous said...

I think i will refuse to pay school taxes this year untill they get rid of this idiot.

Anonymous said...

If there were problems with the electrical work at the start of the school year then how in the hell did the City of Joplin approve them for an Occupancy Permit?

Anonymous said...

It would appear that Huff lied to someone somewhere. Either he lied to P1 about the Board, or he lied to the Board about P1. Or, he and the Board broke the Sunshine Law yet again by discussing this behind closed doors and denying the public of their right to know.

Any way you look at it, CJ Huff has, once again, proven how dishonest he is. And one can guess that this might be one of many reasons that the current and former Board members are so desperate to hang on to those positions or to put additional Huff puppets in place. It makes it easy to see why the new Board members do not want a quorum if it means that Mike Landis, who is obviously aware of Huff's actions, in charge of the Board. I hope they stick to their guns and do not relinquish power to Landis. A man who will steal from the family business will fleece the public in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:22

Huff didn't care if the building was built well. He just wanted it to be finished for his ribbon cutting and was willing to spend us into a hole a mile deep in order to get what he wanted. Landis, Steele, Sharp, and now Banwart will risk their names to cover this up for him. You have to wonder why and what he has on them.

Anonymous said...

Huff is trying not to pay this whopper of a bill. But didn't the auditor's report smack them down about the cost of the rush job? I guess this is the evidence of that criticism. Now we can just wonder how many more of these bills Huff ran up in his rush to glory. It wasn't worth it. The mall would've been much cheaper in the long run.

He's an inept leader in all ways. Yet three members of the Board of Education will fight to keep him. Don't you wonder why? I don't. It's because they must be part of it. I hope it's worth what it will cost them. Ask Anne and Jeff Flowers if it was worth it. I bet they will say no. It would've been better to have been upfront about it all.

Anonymous said...

The district and Huff don't pay bills. And he's the worst tippe everr. He could care less about working people. Cheap and greedy jerk.

Anonymous said...

This story is indeed a bombshell. It is the epitome of how the Huff administration and his Board conduct business. We can only hope that it will be the final blow to a shameful legacy. It is time for Dr. Huff to step down. His dishonesty is such that there should be no need to buy out his contract. An honorable man, which he obviously is not, would step down without force after such egregious misdeeds were uncovered.

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for Ms. Lynda to have her light bulb moment like her commercials showed. As it is, she is proving to be a dim bulb. She is going down the same path as the rest of the old Board. Right behind CJ and holding on to his coat tails. There's no bright ideas or anything different there. It's the same old thing all over again.

Anonymous said...

CJ Huff has been a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT to the Joplin school district stakeholders (taxpayers, teachers, students, support staff, etc.) and HE MUST GO.

Since CJ Huff has no SHAME he must be forced out. As long as he is in power - change will be next to impossible.

It is so sad to have a leader without any moral values whose word is WORTHLESS.

Anonymous said...

CJ's gamble.

Build an image. Create a facade of big beautiful buildings. Construct a fantasy of a heroic-fearless, forward thinking leader. Market the myth to the world.

Use the myth to propel the star of this story to progressively grander venues.

In order for this brilliant plan to work, the unsuspecting "investors" in this cinematic production must remain unaware that it is all an illusion. The sets are fake. The facades can only distract so long as inhabitants grow painfully aware of cheap materials and shoddy construction: resulting directly from unrealistic time frames. The heroic star must not reveal his true self. The actor, center stage, is actually the polar opposite of the character he has sold to he audience. Avarice, greed, and an unquenchable thirst for power and glory drive this pitiful spirit to employ any means necessary to achieve the appearance of success.

The gamble? He can secure another unsuspecting audience before the townfolk catch on to the game. After all it worked for Ponzi, Madoff, Wallace, and a litany of other actors who, at least for a while, managed to stay one step ahead.

Unfortunately for our beloved little ham, the once savory delight of the big steaming bowl of theatrical marketing hype that he so successfully sold to so many, is fast losing its flavor. The groggy hangover of second looks and second guessing is being driven into the skulls of the constituents as they read the inflated bills for the previous night's festivities.

Your plan to get out of Dodge before the curtain fell was an epuc fail. And now we have all lost CJ's bet.

Anonymous said...

What options do the Joplin R8 taxpayers have? Can we bring a class action lawsuit against Dr. Huff for fraud and mismanagement? There seems to be more than enough evidence to support the allegation. There may also be several current and former board members involved.
Any lawyer willing to take on a pro bono case?

Anonymous said...

Bandwart has had several decisions that have shown her to be independent. If not for her we would have a health center at the high school. This is a trend that was a "me too" idea that hasn't proved its value. Give her a chance to cast a vote that will alter the outcome of a vote. 6-1'or 5-2 doesn't do a lot but 4-3 is a much different importance.

Anonymous said...

Now we're stuck with the additional costs of defending a lawsuit and possibly paying 6.5 mil to P1? Where is this money going to come from,the reserves? What reserves? It's for the kids, right, tell that to the kids at West Central and Columbia. Tell that to the kids who are being redistricted from Irving because of overcrowding. Gee,the brilliant minds who came up with the new Irving didn't consider that combining two attendance areas might require more actual classrooms? Maybe if they had had thinking stairs. Is the board looking at all of the new apartments being built on Connecticut? Is Kelsey Norman ready for more kids? That new gymnasium or community saferoom may have to be used as classroom space.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Jim KImbrough and Debbie Fort would have also been in that closed session. Same old same old.

Anonymous said...


Kimbrough and Fort could have voted no. It wouldn't have mattered if the others voted YES. Nice try to put them in the same pot, try harder next time!

Randy said...

While you may be right, Anonymous 8:15, we only have C. J. Huff's statement that it was actually discussed in closed session.

Anonymous said...

So your logic is Kimbrough and Fort could have voted no but if the others voted yes it wouldn’t matter? I guess they weren’t as concerned about the overspending as I thought. For some reason I would think that if they were both hell bent on changing things they would want to make sure their no vote was heard. Was the meeting a violation of the Sunshine Law as Randy assumed? If so why didn’t the 2 board members for justice say something? They both don’t mind blasting their opinions on social media…why didn’t the say anything?

Anonymous said...

Apparently 6:34 is a Huff buddy and does not care about the truth. just protect dear leader. Fort and Kimbrough have been fighting an up hill battle. 6:34 why don't you run for the board and put yourself out there. Easy sitting in the cheap seats to be a arm chair quarterback.

Anonymous said...

As far as the Sunshine Law, CJ has proven time and again that he hasn't a clue of the requirements of that law. As usual, CJ "for the kids" Huff was willing to say and do anything to ensure his "School Will Open On Time" ship stayed afloat. After all, He wasn't planning to be around for the eventual fallout when the bills came in for rushing to open the school.

While there is plenty of blame to go around and all the parties are pointing fingers of blame at each other, in the end, they all point back to CJ. Too bad he can't be held personally responsible.

Anonymous said...

Mr. turner, maybe you should provide the letters you are talking about! Not sure where you are getting your facts from. The blame seems hardly accurate.

Anonymous said...

After all, He wasn't planning to be around for the eventual fallout when the bills came in for rushing to open the school.

I wonder about that. We haven't heard of any jobs searches by him for a while, and his kitchen sink attack on the Martuccis smelled of desperation, and could only hurt the chances of anyone considering him for a position.

It's one thing to, for example, quietly provide thousands of dollars of in kind contributions to a favored board member like Sharp, it's quite another to violate privacy standards and viciously attack a board member candidate, her husband and friend ... and who won the election anyway. I don't get the impression that Huff is so dumb that he wouldn't realize the difference, the lines he was crossing.

Maybe he's concerned his side business of giving talks would be hindered if he was working for another school board, or become very difficult in a state where they have to be reported as income in required disclosure?

I don't know, just throwing out some counter ideas to the theory he can't find another job that allows him to live in the manner to which he's become accustomed.

Anonymous said...

It's always fun to read this blog of brainiacs. Every time someone has a different opinion than the slanted biased view of Randy they are a Huff buddy. It's odd that so many have such a strong opinion of how things should be run...but then I only saw 5 people run for the school board, 2 of which I'm certain aren't on the "everything sucks with the school system" band wagon. Interesting........

Anonymous said...

Huff was planning on the state education commissioner job. Instead it was given to a woman. What a slap in his ugly face.

Anonymous said...

Explain to me how factual information is slanted and biased. Sounds to me like you are one of those Huff "buddies".

Anonymous said...

Let x = reasonable argument.

"Xxxxxxxxx slanted biased view of Randy xxxxxxx."

Not once were you accused of being a Huffy.

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for the explanation.

Anonymous said...

Randy, why don't you run for school board next year?

Anonymous said...

Randy, why don't you run for school board next year?

Then many people, including some who don't exactly support Huff but are worried about the allegations, would make the narrative all about Randy, when it needs to be all about Huff.

More importantly, with the Globe and other media blindly supporting the establishment, Randy's role as a journalist is much more critical than a single seat on the school board. Especially since the simple act of getting rid of Huff will only be the first of many steps required in cleaning out the stable known as Joplin Schools.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 1:55

Thank you. I haven't had a good laugh like that in a long time.

Anonymous said...

Okay 6:34, let me explain this to you as if you did not already know. Fort and Kimbrough do not play by the same rules as the old guard. If they voted no in closed session, then they would leave it at that. If you asked them, they would tell you. However, they are not so concerned with image and appearances that they feel the need to blow horns and set up a marketing campaign to convince us as to what they did. They don't need to. We already know. And truth be told: so do you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:55 - how do we pressure the board to put on their boots, grab a shovel and start mucking things out?

Anonymous said...

5:04 AM: Unless you have a personal connection to one or more of the 3 pro-Huff board members, I can't think of any additional pressure to apply. How stronger a message can we send than the results of the last election?

I suppose you could tell Michael "Elections don't matter" Landis that you're not going to vote for him if he runs for reelection a year from now, but he probably has already got the message. Maybe Banwart or Steele will join the anti-Huff faction, but barring that, we'll likely have to wait until then.

In the meanwhile, perhaps our efforts are best directed at supporting the anti-Huff faction, for the establishment is applying as much heat as they think they can get away with to get them to go along to get along. They'll have to obstruct Huff's excesses as much as possible for a year, and ... well, there's no way any of this will be pleasant. Even going along with Huff is getting difficult as the bills come due, like this one.