The CBRM’s Shopping List: Spring Edition

B’Spoke Apparel

NOT a bellhop’s uniform.

The most interesting “recently awarded” tender I ran across in my recent plunge into the Nova Scotia tenders page is one I almost didn’t write about, it seemed so anodyne.

The CBRM has awarded a two-year contract to B’Spoke Apparel for Transit employee clothing. To be more precise, it has awarded the contract for this clothing:

Flat Front Work Pant – $31.00
Full Zip Solar Fleece – $28.00
S/S Stripe Oxford Cloth Shirt – $28.00
L/S Stripe Oxford Cloth Shirt – $31.00
Cargo Work Pants – $47.00
Solar Fleece Vest – $26.00
System Stroller Shell – $107.00
Deluxe System Bomber Shell – $95.00
Women’s S/S Pinstripe Oxford shirt – $28.00
Women’s L/S Pinstripe Oxford Shirt – $31.00

Total: $452

I have no problem with the clothing (or even the prices, which don’t seem outrageous). In fact, I’d kind of like to order some myself. I’ve been thinking that a uniform would make my life easier — no more agonizing over what to wear (on those days when I don’t simply opt to remain in my pajamas). I’d just pull on my flat-front work pants and my pinstriped Oxford shirt with the Cape Breton Spectator crest (yet to be designed but guaranteed to be spectacular) and be good to go.

No, the interesting part of the this tender is not the goods nor the price but the winner — B’Spoke Apparel (“Let us help you turn those heads”). The company, which uses 3D body scanners to create bespoke clothing (for military personnel, clergy, brides and bellhops,* among others) is owned by 180 Moda of Halifax. And 180 Moda of Halifax is owned by Taura Lee (aka Taura Publicover).

Publicover has been a target of Frank Magazine for years, which makes me sympathetic to her, but some of her history — involving things like being fined $25,000 by the Nova Scotia Securities Commission — does qualify as news. (She made the Truro Daily News too.)

I am also going on record right now as warning that putting Transit employees in uniforms so sharp they “turn heads” could be hazardous in traffic. On the other hand, perhaps the head-turning effect doesn’t apply to the off-the-rack items, in which case, we can all rest easy.

*What I thought was a bellhop’s uniform turns out to be Air Force Mess Dress. My guess: men in Air Force Mess Dress often end up carrying other people’s suitcases.


Citizen Handbook

Advocate Printing of Pictou, NS won an $8,684.65  tender for the publication and distribution of the Summer 2017 edition of the CBRM Citizen Handbook. (That’s the glossy little booklet containing everything you need to know to be a good citizen like, instructions for submitting a Freedom of Information/Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) request; the type, location and time of monthly council and committee meeting; the mayor and council’s most recent travel and expense data…JUST KIDDING! They contain information like the Christmas tree pickup schedule, tips for dealing with mold and summer events listings. More of a “Resident Handbook,” really.)

Advocate Printing will produce 46,000, 36-page (including cover) Summer 2017 handbooks and distribute them to 45,500 CBRM households as “unaddressed mail” via Canada Post.

The first Citizen Handbook was published in Summer 2015 and it has been published twice yearly  — a Fall/Winter edition and a Spring/Summer edition — ever since, although the latest tender, as noted, is for a “Summer 2017” edition and I was about to ask “What happened to Spring?” when I suddenly remembered where I live.

Advocate Printing won the original tender (for all the previous handbooks) in 2015. The amounts awarded looked like this:

First Edition Spring-Summer 2015: $7,654.08 (28 pages including cover)

Fall-Winter 2015/Spring-Summer & Fall-Winter 2016: $15,650.33 + $8400.60 (36 pages each, including cover)

Total: $31,704.41

Losing bidders included Solisco Printing, Cape Breton Star (RIP), Cape Breton Post and City Printers.

Because this is a “Citizen Handbook,” its publication has been overseen since its inception by Mayor Clarke’s “political” communications person, Christina Lamey because…yeah, I got nothing.

Maybe the next edition will provide an explanation of the role of “political” staff in a Nova Scotia municipal context and the CBRM’s hiring process for such staff. I’ll expect to see it right next to the “Unicorn Sightings.”


Ammunition & Simunition

On 26 April 2017, the CBRM awarded tenders for 9 mm training ammunition, 223 Remington/5.56 Nato Ammunition (used by police in their carbine rifles) and 9 mm Simunition (“non-lethal” training ammunition).

I asked someone who knows more about guns than I do (because, believe it or not, such people exist) what “5.56 Nato Ammunition” is and he told me it is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s designation for the 223 Remington cartridge.

I then consulted a National Rifle Association (NRA) blog where I discovered 223 Remington is also a “cartridge kids take to easily” and one that is good for killing “varmints.” Neither of which, I must be quick to add, was a specification of the CBRM tender.

The contracts were awarded as follows:

Tender ItemAmountWinnerPrice
Training Ammo 9mm2,000 roundsWestern Metal $490.00
Simunition 9mm2,000 roundsFrontline Outfitters $1,592.00
223 Remington/5.56 Nato Ammunition 12,000 roundsFrontline Outfitters $6,024.00

The tender was not overseen by Christina Lamey, who is not in charge of buying ammo.


Indian Beach

Jim Kehoe’s Joneljim Concrete Construction was awarded a contract worth an oddly precise $513,024.98 for improvements to Indian Beach in North Sydney.

Indian Beach (Photo by George Mortimer via CBC)

Indian Beach (Photo by George Mortimer via CBC)

That prompted me to visit Joneljim’s website and look at its list of past projects and I was struck by the sheer volume of government contracts the firm has received over the years: hospitals, sewage treatment plants, wharf repairs, municipal sidewalks, Centre 200, work on the CBU and NSCC Marconi campuses, renovations to the Bell Museum, and schools  — including nine of the 14 public-private-partnership or P3 schools built in Cape Breton during the great P3 School Mania of the late ’90s/early oughts.

In fact, Sherwood Park Elementary School, a P3 school built in Sydney, gets a bigger write-up than any other project on the site:

Joneljim was a member of the original consortium which designed and built a state of the art education complex on behalf of the Cape Breton District School Board. This project is a unique application of the partnership concept of public infrastructure and will be a model for future endeavours. – $15,000,000

Rather than being “a model for future endeavours,” Sherwood Park is now scheduled for closure — along with Harbourside Elementary, another P3 school Joneljim helped construct — and the entire P3 school program has been panned by successive Nova Scotia Auditors General as poorly executed and wasteful. The only ones who really benefited were the developers — which probably explains why Sherwood Park still features so prominently on Joneljim’s website.


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