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Posts tagged: Syringa Networks

Otter statement on IEN: Syringa ‘has no legitimate claim for monetary damages’ from state

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, through his campaign, has released a lengthy statement on the legal dispute over the contract award for the Idaho Education Network, the statewide broadband network designed to link every high school; the state is embroiled in a lawsuit from Syringa Networks over the award of the $60 million contract to Qwest and Education Networks of America. The legal questions over the contract award prompted the federal government to stop paying its three-quarters share of the project in 2013, and lawmakers had to bail out the IEN with $11.4 million in extra state funds this year to offset the missing federal “e-rate” money; millions more may be requested when the Legislature convenes again in January.

In response to questions raised by Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff about news reports that the state was seeking a confidentiality agreement in its negotiations with Syringa, Otter's statement says, “Confidentiality agreements are common in mediations to ensure both parties negotiate in good faith. Syringa refused to sign a confidentiality agreement; nevertheless, the state proceeded with mediation. There are no 'secret' negotiations taking place.” Click below for Otter's full statement, which includes several references to court documents in the case. It also asserts that Syringa “has no legitimate claim for monetary damages” from the state. You can read the full Idaho Supreme Court decision here in the case, which remanded it back to the district court on a single question: whether the contract was awarded illegally.

IEN contract dispute shows no signs of resolution, state could be on hook for millions more…

Syringa Networks, the company that sued over the 2009 broadband contract for the Idaho Education Network, is now demanding $17 million to settle the dispute, Idaho Education News reports. House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt today dubbed the request “outrageous,” and the dispute appears unlikely to end soon. It’s already forced the state to put $11.4 million in state taxpayer funds into the IEN because the feds have refused to provide their three-quarters of the IEN’s funding with the contract award in dispute. The disputed contract went to Education Networks of America and Qwest, now known as CenturyLink. In the coming legislative session, lawmakers could be asked to hand over millions more. EdNews reporter Kevin Richert has a full report here.

District judge’s ruling allows Syringa lawsuit against state to continue

4th District Judge Patrick Owen has issued a ruling on several motions in the Syringa Networks lawsuit against the state Department of Administration over the award of the contract for the Idaho Education Network, and the outcome allows the case to continue to proceed. Syringa had sought to expand its case to include a charge against former state Admin Director Mike Gwartney, and Owen rejected that move; but like the Idaho Supreme Court last March, he ruled that the case can go forward on its key point: Whether or not the contract award violated Idaho state purchasing laws.

Owen’s decision includes a quote from the Supreme Court decision, noting that “All contracts made in violation of [Idaho Code 67-5718] are void and any money advanced by the State in consideration of such contracts must be repaid.” That’s the concern that the FCC has identified in holding up federal e-rate funds that were supposed to pay for three-quarters of the IEN's cost; those funds have been on hold since last March’s Supreme Court decision.

Idaho contracts under scrutiny amid ruling, report

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — In a ruling issued last week, the Idaho Supreme Court got right to the point: The Department of Administration's former head appears to have helped the state's biggest phone company win a contract. Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones wrote former Administration Director Mike Gwartney likely used his influence to steer business to Qwest Communications Inc. — and cut Syringa Networks out of the $60 million deal. The ruling allows Syringa to pursue its claim against the agency. But it also comes as state lawmakers pursue ways to improve the agency's contract monitoring. A measure has already cleared House and Senate. Idaho contracting has long been a subject of scrutiny, including a botched 2010 Medicaid management deal. A state auditor's report determined the process is plagued by inconsistencies and inadequate training.

Click below for Miller's full report.

Justices: Syringa can pursue claim against Idaho over purchasing violations

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Supreme Court justices ruled Friday phone consortium Syringa Networks can pursue its claim against the Department of Administration alleging the agency's bidding process violated Idaho statutes governing purchasing. Syringa sued Idaho in 2009, claiming the Department of Administration illegally handed Qwest Communications Inc. a $60 million contract to install the broadband infrastructure for the Idaho Education Network, an ongoing project to link public schools, universities and businesses in Idaho. A 4th District Court judge dismissed Syringa's lawsuit, on grounds it hadn't exhausted administrative remedies. But justices said there were no administrative remedies to exhaust. Among other conclusions, Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones wrote then-Department of Administration Director Mike Gwartney “appears to have been the architect of the state's effort to bend the contracting rules to Qwest's advantage.”

You can read the Idaho Supreme Court decision here.

Syringa Networks appeals to Idaho Supreme Court in IEN bid lawsuit

Syringa Networks is appealing to the Idaho Supreme Court the dismissal of its lawsuit against the state of Idaho over the award of a multimillion-dollar contract for the Idaho Education Network. The firm contends that its bid would have cost the state less than the contract that was signed with Qwest Inc. and another firm; and alleging wrongdoing on the part of former Idaho Department of Administration chief Mike Gwartney. You can read Syringa's explanation of its appeal here, and its notice of appeal here.

Judge partially dismisses Syringa lawsuit

A 4th District judge has issued his promised new ruling in the Syringa Networks lawsuit against the state of Idaho over the big contract for the Idaho Education Network, and it has a slightly different outcome from his last ruling: He’s dismissing most of the case against the state, though one count remains, as do the other defendants, Qwest and ENA. Click below to read a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Syringa decision being reconsidered

The court decision that tossed out a lawsuit over the state’s award of the multimillion-dollar Idaho Education Network to Qwest is being reconsidered, after a 4th District judge said he forgot to consider a component of the case. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.

Court tosses out Syringa lawsuit

The Syringa Networks lawsuit against the state Department of Administration over the award of the multimillion-dollar Idaho Education Network contract to Qwest has been dismissed, as 4th District Judge Patrick Owen granted the state’s motion for a summary judgment. “It does appear that Syringa was cut off from participating in the work,” the judge wrote in his decision; you can read it here. But he found that Syringa didn’t show sufficient evidence of breach of contract in the move, and didn’t exhaust all its administrative remedies by appealing the contract award through an administrative appeal before suing.

“By ruling in our favor, Judge Owen vindicated the integrity of our purchasing processes as well as the integrity of our employees,” said Department of Administration Director Mike Gwartney. Gwartney said the court decision “will allow continued implementation of the Idaho Education Network,” a project to connect all Idaho high schools to a high-speed broadband network to expand educational opportunities for students.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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