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Published: 3/19/2004

Toledo nixes bid over minority percentage

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mayor Jack Ford s director of affirmative action and purchasing has blocked a $5.2 million bid from a local contractor because the contractor didn t award 12.3 percent of the work to minority bidders.

The next lowest bid, from a Detroit-area contractor, is $200,000 more expensive.

Yesterday, however, city officials were reconsidering the decision, following a contentious meeting in the city s law department.

Brooks Contracting, Inc., of Perrysburg Township, was selected last month as the best bidder by the Department of Public Utilities to lead a $5.9 million project to build a backup power generator for the Collins Park Water Treatment Facility. But the deal was upset

two weeks ago, according to the contractor, when Yulanda

McCarty-Harris, acting director of affi rmative action/contract compliance and purchasing, learned the contractor was not a minority, as she claimed in her bid application, but a female.

Cathy Brooks, president of the company in which her husband, Ray, is in charge of fi eld services, claimed the entire $5.2 million

bid amount would go to an MBE, or minority business

enterprise.

Mrs. Brooks said she was told that her female-owned

business does not qualify as a minority business enterprise.

Mrs. Brooks said the city in the past has treated women business enterprises, known as WBEs, the same as minority business

enterprises.

Ms. McCarty-Harris cited Toledo s 1991 affirmative

action ordinance, which defines minorities as Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asians.

Mrs. McCarty-Harris refused to discuss the issue in detail.

Basically, there was a misunderstanding relative

to the terms and conditions of the bid. The discussions

with Brooks are ongoing, Mrs. McCarty-Harris said.

The city s official goal is to have 12.3 percent of construction

contracts awarded to minority contractors, and 7 percent of

supplies and services to be provided by minorities. Mrs. Brooks

said she lined up three minority contractors to handle 6 percent

of the project but couldn t reach the 12.3 percent goal. The next

lowest bidder, Barton Malow, of Southfield, Mich., said it would

have 17 percent minority participation.

Mrs. Brooks said she was told the job would be taken

away and given to Barton Malow if she did not increase her minority

participation. The Brooks project had been placed on city council s agenda for a vote as early as Tuesday. But Brooks was notified in letter dated March 11 that the contract bid was rejected. On Tuesday, Robert Stevenson, the director of the Department of Public Utilities, informed council that the ordinance identifying Brooks as the bid winner would be amended. But Mr. Stevenson said yesterday the ordinance will be withdrawn rather than amended.

What we re going to do with the ordinance is ask that the

ordinance be held until we can fi nish our negotiations with this

contractor. There is no specific deadline, Mr. Stevenson said.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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