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Executive Council special session to decide NH Guard leader

By DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau

September 16. 2017 8:10PM

Col. David J. Mikolaities 

CONCORD - The Executive Council will convene in a special session on Monday to consider the nomination of Col. David J. Mikolaities as adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard.

The confirmation of Mikolaities, a much-decorated and well-regarded career officer, was expected to go through without much fanfare when the council met last Wednesday, until Republican Councilor David Wheeler of Milford requested a delay to pursue additional questions that he felt were not answered in a previous confirmation hearing.

"This person is going to lead 3,000 people in uniform," said fellow Republican Councilor Joe Kenney of Union. "I have no problem with Councilor Wheeler asking additional questions with regards to this nominee."

Most of the conversation at the council meeting centered on Mikolaities and his role as chief of facilities during the construction of the new National Guard Training Center in Pembroke, which was beset by cost overruns and delays that ultimately led to the termination of a contract with TLT Construction of Wakefield, Mass.

Gov. Chris Sununu temporarily withdrew his nomination to allow for the Monday meeting.

Democratic Councilor Andru Volinsky on Friday said documents from the Department of Administrative Services demonstrate that Mikolaities actually served the state well when the TLT contract was under consideration.

"He was the one who questioned the award of the project to TLT because their bid was so low, but the company was cleared by Administrative Services, and the council was forced to accept the lowest qualified bid by law," says Volinsky.

"Rather than simply defer supervision of the project to the state, Col. Mikolaities then took the extraordinary step of putting a full-time Guard person on site and the Guard's designated person appears to have found the problem with the concrete."

On Friday, Wheeler raised an additional concern regarding a possible conflict of interest, given the fact that Mikolaities has a brother, Greg Mikolaities, who is a principal in the engineering firm of Tighe and Bond of Portsmouth, which received National Guard contracts from 2012 to the present.

Mikolaities referred all questions to Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn, director of public affairs at the New Hampshire National Guard.

Tighe and Bond was one of seven firms selected for a statewide "Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity" contract with the Adjutant General's Department in 2012, Heilshorn said.

"Col. Mikolaities voluntarily recused himself from any involvement in the source selection process, due to the potential conflict of interest. He was not a member of the selection committee," Heilshorn said.

"In addition, as a federal employee employed by the Department of the Army, Col. Mikolaities is prohibited from acting on behalf of the state. He has no authorization to influence or award a state contract."

Heilshorn said the contracting issue was also review by the Guard's legal counsel.

"It's a shame that Col. Mikolaities has to defend himself against thinly veiled accusations from anonymous sources," said Heilshorn. "His record of service to New Hampshire and the nation speaks for itself. He is well-respected by both soldiers and airmen and is highly regarded among his peers."

The council special meeting on the Mikolaities appointment has been scheduled for 10 a.m. in Executive Council chambers at the State House.

dsolomon@unionleader.com


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