City Communications Director Has Stepped Down

City communications director Ric Barrick is stepping down from his position, Graham Moomaw writes in the Daily Progress. Barrick will continue indefinitely as a city employee, working on projects including the city’s 250th anniversary celebration. Recently cleared in an ethics investigation pertaining to an improperly handled bid, Barrick cited the circumstances of that investigation as one of the things that has left him wanting a job that’s less stressful. He’s held the position of communications director for six years. A pair of city employees will temporarily take on Barrick’s media relations duties.

17 thoughts on “City Communications Director Has Stepped Down”

  1. Just wondering . . . in the sentence “Recently cleared in an ethics investigation . . .” is “cleared” really the correct word to use in this situation?

    Diana H. Wheeler, the special prosecutor investigating Mr. Barrick, wrote that “I do not believe that there is probable cause to believe that a crime occurred…,”; but at the same time characterized Mr. Barrick’s actions as “in error and improper”; and referred to Mr. Barrick as “woefully inept”.

    Given the overall findings and thought process of the special prosecutor, perhaps “cleared” is too “robust” of a word to describe Mr. Barrick’s status.

    Just a thought.

  2. Waldo, Did you read Rob Schilling’s report of this incident ?
    Several news sources report that it is his investigation that brought about Barrick’s resignation.
    I would think that the destruction of FOIA’ed emails would concern you .

    The Cover-Up

    While government-insider manipulation of the public procurement process is disturbing enough in its own right, government cover-up of official law-bending arguably is worse. Much of the damning documentation obtained for this investigation was received during a December 2010 non-specific Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to view a week of Ric Barrick’s email. This FOIA was submitted shortly after Barrick punitively removed The Schilling Show and its host Rob Schilling from his official Charlottesville City email distribution lists, under which Barrick disseminates media releases and other city news.

    Many months of rumination over and analysis of the original documents obtained from Barrick led to a second FOIA. This time, the request was issued in order to obtain supporting documents relating specifically to the Weather Metrics contract with Charlottesville City. The Schilling Show’s December 31, 2011 FOIA sought:

    An electronic copy of all Weather Metrics RFQs received by the city and any correspondence or document sent to or received from Weather Metrics and/or Eric Levy (of Weather Metrics), by any city employee or elected official. Effective dates of this request are from January 1, 2010 through and including January 31, 2011.

    On January 9, 2012 and on behalf of Charlottesville City, Ric Barrick responded to The Schilling Show’s December 31, 2011 FOIA with electronic documentation of correspondence between Eric Levy and several city employees.

    Missing from Barrick’s FOIA response were several incriminating communications (unbeknownst to Barrick these missives already were in possession of The Schilling Show) referencing Barrick and Levy’s apparent conspiracy to manipulate the RFQ process. Notably:

    Barrick’s December 8, 2010 email to Jennifer Luchard in which Barrick asks Luchard if he is bound to accept the lowest RFQ bid was not included in Barrick’s FOIA response.
    Barrick’s December 9, 2010 email to Weather Metrics’ Eric Levy in which Barrick suggests that Levy lower the number of months in his RFQ in order to appear as the lowest bidder was not included in Barrick’s FOIA response.
    Levy’s December 9, 2011 email response to Barrick in which Levy agrees to adjust the RFQ terms as Barrick had suggested was not included in Barrick’s FOIA response.

    Also missing was a key document—one that fell squarely in the parameters of the December 31 FOIA: City of Charlottesville 24 x 7 pricing Barrick 11-18-10.pdf

    This was the original Weather Metrics RFQ response in the amount of $26,000, significantly higher than the actual lowest bid of $18,490, as submitted by Weather Central.

    The existence of this specific document was suspected by inference in reviewing Barrick, Levy and Luchard’s correspondences. But it was shown as an attachment (although it was not attached or included in the January 9 FOIA response) to one of the emails Barrick did provide in response to the December 31, 2011 FOIA:

  3. “Barrick will continue indefinitely as a city employee, working on projects including the city’s 250th anniversary celebration.”

    How evident Mr. Barrick isn’t limited to an elected term, like perhap some other affluent city employees (and emphasis on “employees” in the broadest sense.) Still, demotion (or worse – outright dismisal) is a tragic setback for anyone’s income or livelihood.

    Yet, the man is going to continue on INDEFINITELY! Hmmm, how to put this nice….. YOU KNOW “INDEFINITELY” IS A VERY VERY LONG TIME.” Well, there’ll be plenty time there to “Celebrate 250.”

  4. If it had been anyone else besides Schilling on this, my belief is that a “let’s sweep it under the rug” mindset would have been the policy of choice.

  5. 93K for that job?
    Excess, waste and pet projects everywhere government is involved.

  6. I think it was high for him (Barrick) because it was high for his predecessor, now the current city manager. Who by the way, also makes a nice salary compared to other cities the size of Charlottesville. See below link for stated national average salary of a city manager at $94,000. I think C’ville city manager makes almost double that…

  7. As I read this story I noticed the following:
    Original Weather Metrics proposal $26,000 for 36 months
    Revised WM proposal to come in as ‘lowest bidder’: $18,490 for 18 months. Barrick aparently let the bidder know that their contract would be renewed.
    So 36 months of Weather Metrics services would actually come to just shy of $37,000 or $11,000 more than they originally bid??!! If their numbers were just being ‘reduced’ to come in below a competitor because Barrick felt they had a better product, why wasn’t the cost being halved as was the duration?? Where was the extra $11,000 going? Why didn’t Barrick care that the City was getting hosed?

  8. Ooops. Revised bid= $17,000 per 18 mos. for total of $34,000 for 36 month term or $8,000 over their original bid.
    I’d think Weather Central may have a prima facie case under Virginia’s business conspiracy statute, and the treble damages allowance might make it worthwhile.

  9. and referred to Mr. Barrick as “woefully inept”.<<<<

    What does that,IMO,ill advised cliche,say about employee selection?

  10. @****, and yet his defense is the lie that he was trying to get a better deal and software for the public. Certainly he can perform elementary school arithmetic. His cronies are bending over backwards to help save him. The fact that he worked with the winner for months before is issued the RFQ with only a week’s deadline says he wan’t innocently doing anything. There was a great of plotting planning on his part to see to it his favored vendor got the contract. That is why he surreptitiously gave the other bidder’s information to the vendor and then recommended what changes to make in order to secure the bid. BTW, is the City throwing out the award for the contract? Why should the other vendor who behaved in good faith (the winner isn’t new at this; he knew he was being given an unfair advantage by being aloud to modify his bid after the period had closed)have to suffer from the dishonesty of others?

  11. Cville Eye, excellent questions, have you ever thought of running for Commonwealth’s Attorney for Orange County? I’m glad I’m not the only one paying attention to the details in this matter. Here’s a few more unanswered ones:
    1. Why was Barrick handling this RFQ in the first place? He’s been in this job for 6 years and this was his first (thankfully) foray into contract bidding, why now?
    2. Why didn’t Jennifer Luchard step in and take over when Barrick emailed her to ask if he could help Weather Metrics lower their bid after the RFQ had expired? This is apparently what she does for a living yet when he showed an utter lack of understanding or willful disregard for procedure, she just shot him some advice? Thats akin to a 5 year-old asking “is this the right way to load a handgun?” and then showing them rather than taking it away!
    3. Why was Barrick so intent to send this money Weather Metrics’ way?? Its not believable that they provide such a better product that he was willing to rig the bid in their favor for no other reason. And even if they do, who watches channel 10 anyway? Maybe there’s a connection from Barrick’s days as a meteorologist? I’m going to look into it.
    4. Why is the City even spending money to provide this service? Have they in the past? Why now, especially when both local networks have dedicated weather channels?

  12. Could it be that the product in question is a truly superior product? How many times has the City accepted the lowest bid on an inferior product and then have to go back and buy a “better” product that actually works. While Mr. Barrick didn’t follow procedures 100%, I think he actually had good intentions.

  13. hes, that’s my question. I have no idea in this case, but it does seem to be the real question. When a bureaucrat wants to buy apples and is compelled to buy the cheapest apples, what if they’re using them to make pie & the lowest bid is for red delicious… The pie will be uneatable, but we’ll have bought the cheapest apples and in the end have wasted not only the cost of the apples, but the costs associated with turning them into a pie. We seem to have a system where bureaucrats must complicate things in advance: “Apples for pie baking: winesap, granny smith, stayman, or other variety suitable for baking & if other than specified please provide proof that they’ll bake well…” I can only imagine far too many producers of the products we want rolling their eyes and not answering the RFQ, RFP, M-O-U-S-E du jour, because by the time they’re done reading & complying with the thing, they’ve already lost whatever profit they would have realized in selling it.

    Letter of the law; spirit of the law. I increasingly find we’re focusing on the former and throwing the latter out with the baby.

  14. hes, and Ms. Myer, there is an appropriate procedure to consider items other than price, that would be an RFP not an RFQ. The former has more review and to state standards requires a ranking board rather than individual to review the proposals.

    That Barrick chose to go the RFP route then treat it as an RFQ despite being told the difference is part of the problem.

    If the Schilling report is accurate (and given the documentation provided I suspect it is) there were serious ethical lapses anyway. You don’t provide bidders with other bidders prices during negotiation. You don’t back-date bid submissions to fake meeting a deadline.

    I want to know who backdated the bid – if the vendor, the sale should be nullified based on fraud, if a city employee, then that person may be guilty of altering public documents, which would be criminal for a state or federal employee.

  15. Thanks Mark for educating me. I now understand better why they are saying he was incompetent/inept for not understanding the difference (RFP v. RFQ) and if he did why it was borderline criminal.

  16. “Letter of the law; spirit of the law. I increasingly find we’re focusing on the former and throwing the latter out with the baby.”

    Are you really suggesting that Ric Barrick ought to be the arbiter of what the “spirit” of the law is? In what way is he qualified to do that rather than to follow it as it’s written?

  17. Well, no, I’m suggesting we look at our laws and rules and regulations and simplify them. I keep seeing “Rules are Rules” sorts of posts, as though that should end the conversation. For me that’s where it starts: why do we have these rules & are they the best rules to accomplish that goal?

    We should be the arbiters of spirit of the law & events like this give us an opportunity to pay a little attention and ask some questions.

    And thanks, hes, for the clarification. I’ve not looked at any of the details in this case, I’ve looked at the shadow it seems to cast & am asking about the shapes of things. Someone has colored outside the lines: do we have the right lines to create the picture we want?

    I’m aware that the one thing Virginia scored well on recently is procurement. Ironically, the one zero score was mandatory professional training…

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