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Published: Wednesday, 3/24/2004

Toledo council awards disputed contract

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

City Council voted last night to award a multimillion-dollar contract to a Perrysburg Township builder, rather than hold it up over efforts to increase minority participation in the project.

Also last night, council approved:

● A plan to allow the city to block the renewal of state motor vehicle registrations of persons with unpaid tickets.

●A massive rewrite of the city's zoning code, including new building design standards aimed at minimizing cookie-cutter-style buildings.

Council voted 12-0 to award a $5.2 million contract to Brooks Contracting, Inc., of Perrysburg Township.

Mayor Jack Ford last night intervened in the dispute between acting Director of Affirmative Action, Yulanda McCarty-Harris, and Brooks Contracting to ask for council's approval of the contract to install an emergency generator at the city's water treatment plant.

Brooks's $5.2 million bid had been approved by the Department of Public Utilities as the best bid, but was blocked by Ms. McCarty-Harris over her concerns that Brooks had subcontracted only 6 percent of the work to minority business enterprises. City law requires contractors to make a good-faith effort to achieve 12.3 percent minority participation.

Mr. Ford said he did not want to delay the project because of the harm that would occur if a power blackout shut down the city's water treatment facility. He said that recalculating the Brooks project to exclude a $2 million chunk to pay for a new generator brought Brooks's minority involvement up to 11

percent.

"If there had been some question as to whether there was a good-faith effort, I think we've come to the conclusion that as much as possible has been done," Mr. Ford said.

Brooks President Cathy Brooks claimed that as a female business owner, she should have gotten credit for 100 percent minority involvement. She said she had been told the contract would be awarded instead to the next lowest contract, a Detroit-area firm that had 17 percent minority involvement, at a $200,000 higher cost, if she did not increase her minority participation.

Ms. Brooks could not be reached for comment last night. Mr. Ford said last night there was no plan to award the contract to the next lowest bidder.

A new management agreement with the Downtown Toledo Parking Authority will allow the city to go after parking scofflaws.

A 2002 investigation by The Blade revealed that more than 53,000 people were dodging fines on more than 120,000 tickets worth about $400,000.

The agreement with DTPA will allow the agency to block the renewal of state motor vehicle registrations of persons with unpaid tickets.

The procedure was approved by city council in December, 2002, but was held up in protracted negotiations with the DTPA over its management agreement. The agency oversees city parking garages and on-street parking.

DTPA President Clayton Johnston estimated the city will be able to recoup at least half of the $400,000 through the DETER program, which stands for "drivers with excessive tickets excluded from registration."

"We're ready to move forward so we can implement the DETER program," Mr. Johnston said.

A revision of the city's 1959 zoning code passed 11-1 last night with Councilman Betty Shultz voting no.

She objected to a provision allowing a city councilman or the chairman of the Toledo Plan Commission to order a meeting between a developer and neighborhood residents.

She said such meetings are already ordered when needed.

Stephen Herwat, the executive director of the Toledo Plan Commission, said the rewrite condenses 39 chapters of city code into 16 more easily understandable chapters.

"This code promotes redevelopment of older residential, commercial, and industrial areas," Mr. Herwat said.

The new rules include commercial building design standards for the first time.

The standards would prohibit garish color schemes and long, unbroken expanses of block walls, and emphasize pedestrian access and smaller parking lots.

The code takes effect June 6.

Also last night, council authorized the mayor last night to spend $406,000 to buy enough Taser stun guns to equip every uniformed member of the Toledo police department.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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