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Food bid for poll workers disputed

July 12, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA.

charlestown@herald-mail.com

A spokeswoman for a Thurmont, Md., catering business that was considered for providing food to 155 Jefferson County poll workers during a recent election said her firm gave a lower bid than what Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan claimed.

If the numbers from the Catering by Cozy Restaurant are correct and are used to determine the amount of the bid given to Maghan, the Thurmont catering company would have provided the food for about $1,835.

Maghan said she decided to have the food provided by Renaissance Refinishing of Frederick, Md., after it offered the lowest bid of $1,952.

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Renassiance Refinishing is owned by Maghan's brother-in-law, B. Randall Maghan, but Jennifer Maghan said she is not affiliated with the business and does not profit from it.

When asked Monday about the bid from Catering by Cozy Restaurant, Maghan maintained it was higher than the amount a company spokeswoman quoted to a reporter.

Maghan's decision to provide food for poll workers during a June 25 pension bond election has resulted in tense exchanges between Maghan and county officials.

Maghan said last week she did not see a problem with getting the food from Renaissance Refinishing because she is not affiliated with the company. Maghan also said last week that she received bids from two other companies but could not say what the bids were because she did not have the information with her.

On Monday, Maghan said the two other companies that gave bids were the Catoctin Inn in Buckeystown, Md., and Catering by Cozy Restaurant.

The Catoctin Inn gave a bid of $23.04 per person, which would have amounted to a bill of about $3,571, Maghan said.

Dale Wireman, catering director at the Catoctin Inn, said she recalled Maghan obtaining a bid from her business and the $23.04 per person sounded correct.

Maghan said Catering by Cozy Restaurant quoted a bid of $9 per person.

Also added to the bill would have been a $325 delivery charge, 5 percent tax and a 15 percent gratuity, Maghan said.

Susie Freeze, a spokeswoman for Catering by Cozy Restaurant, said her business did not give a quote to Maghan. Freeze said she recalls a request for a bid being made, but said the request came from a person named Mark who worked for a construction company.

Freeze said the delivery charge was not $325, but $125.

Using the $125 fee, the Catering by Cozy Restaurant bid would have been $1,835.40 for 155 poll workers.

When asked about the discrepancy in the bids from Catering by Cozy Restaurant Monday, Maghan said the delivery fee quoted to her was $325.

Maghan said the delivery fee was in an e-mail sent from the Catering by Cozy Restaurant.

"The $125 is news to me," Maghan said.

Maghan said the person who obtained the bid from Catering by Cozy Restaurant was a friend who was helping her get bid information.

Maghan said she is eager to get the issue behind her and said some poll workers have called her, surprised by the issues that have developed as a result of her providing the food. Some poll workers have called her offering to pay for the food, she said.

"They thought this whole thing in the media was a circus," Maghan said.

Maghan said she paid the $1,952 catering bill with her own money but wanted to be reimbursed for the meals from the county's voter registration fund.

Because he is the county's treasurer, Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober told the Jefferson County Commissioners recently that he would have been required to sign the check.

But Boober said an official with the state auditor's office told him the bill could not be paid with money from the voter registration fund.

Boober told the county commission he did not sign the check because he was concerned he could be "party to something possibly illegal."

Boober said last week that the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's office is reviewing the matter to determine if the meals can be paid out of the county's general revenue fund.

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