Monday, December 22, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;38.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ra.png;2014-12-22 14:46:36
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Nashua’s Law Warehouse takes legal action against Liquor Commission, questions ‘unlawful conduct’

CONCORD – Owners of the Nashua-based warehouse that stored state-owned liquor for decades launched a Right-to-Know lawsuit Monday questioning if the State Liquor Commission engaged in “unlawful conduct” in awarding a 20-year contract to a competitor.

Law Warehouse President Brian Law and his lawyers maintain the state agency repeatedly refused to release bid documents prior to and after Exel of Westerville, Ohio, won the competition. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

CONCORD – Owners of the Nashua-based warehouse that stored state-owned liquor for decades launched a Right-to-Know lawsuit Monday questioning if the State Liquor Commission engaged in “unlawful conduct” in awarding a 20-year contract to a competitor.

Law Warehouse President Brian Law and his lawyers maintain the state agency repeatedly refused to release bid documents prior to and after Exel of Westerville, Ohio, won the competition.

“We have no choice other than seeking a court order releasing these public records,” Law said.

“From what we know about the Deutsche Post Exel proposal, it appears to have some serious flaws because it does not provide the state with the key service improvements they are looking for and does not provide the best return to the people of New Hampshire.

“This is supposed to be a transparent, public bidding process and the Liquor Commission is obligated to let the bidders and public know the details about all of Exel’s proposals including the complete bid scoring.”

Law and his lawyers also maintain it appears the terms were changed several times to Exel’s liking and the winner was allowed to “materially revise” its request for a proposal that won the historic agreement.

“As such, numerous questions exist as to any unlawful conduct of respondent in its handling of the bids and its selection of Exel for this substantial 20-year public contract,” wrote Suzan Lehmann, Law’s lead lawyer from a Concord firm.

Rather than be a big money-maker for the state, the contract, as written, could be a financial disaster, Law’s lawyers say.

“Based on the limited information released by the Liquor Commission to date, it would appear these deficiencies have the potential to cost the state of New Hampshire millions of dollars over the terms of the contract in contrast to the commission’s claim of millions of dollars of saving,” Law’s lawyers wrote in the Merrimack County Superior Court lawsuit.

State Liquor Commission Chairman Joe Mollica and Commissioner Mike Milligan have maintained the warehouse award process was fair to all five vendors, including Law Warehouse.

“The contract award is a significant milestone in enhancing the service and revenue we provide to the state of New Hampshire,” Mollica said in a statement in announcing the contract award last month.

“The efficiencies and service advances provided by Exel will substantially upgrade New Hampshire’s operation.”

Liquor agency experts maintain that the state will save $3 million over the first 30 months of the new contracts compared to the rates it was paying Law. Consumers will see $4 million worth of savings during the same time, state officials said.

Exel is wholly owned by DHL, one of the world’s largest distribution, shipping and logistics companies in the world whose warehousing clients include JC Penney, Sears, Office Depot, 7-Eleven and Williams-Sonoma.

For decades, Law has stored wine and liquor purchased by the state at its Nashua warehouse. A small amount of inventory is also placed at a state-owned warehouse space in Concord.

The contract was a source of controversy because it did not require a vote of the governor and Executive Council.

In 2009, the Legislature gave the SLC authority over its own budgeting and rendered it exempt from having to receive council approval for its contracts. At a recent meeting with the council, however, Mollica told councilors that he intended to brief them on this project.

The commission’s director of enforcement, Eddie Edwards, also raised questions about the warehouse contract process with an inquiry of Attorney General Michael Delaney.

The AG concluded there was nothing unethical about the contract process.

The Law family has been in business in Nashua for more than 130 years and operates six companies storing products ranging from lumber to wine with 65 different regional and national distribution programs.

Exel has an option to buy land in Bow where it will build a new 230,000-square-foot warehouse. Their work is not to begin until next Nov. 1, when Law’s contract runs out. Law employs 50 people, and it remains unclear how many, if any, of them will end up working with the new vendor.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashua
telegraph.com.

Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).