MPDP Out of Compliance with EBO

Promises Kept or Broken – Part IV

The problems with the Maritime Park’s EBO Agreement program and the failure to live up to the Covenant with the Community became obvious last night at the meeting of the Equal Business Opportunity Committee of the Community Maritime Park Associates.

The Developer, Maritime Park Developers Partners, and its EBO Program Manager, Tony McCray and Escambia-Pensacola Human Relations Commission, are not supervising the EBO program and the contractors don’t understand it, even though MPDP has spent over $70,000 of its $250,000 budget for the program.

This lack of supervision and poor understanding of how the EBO program should work bring into question statements made by MPDP officers Jeff Galt (president) and Scott Davison (VP) when they replied to George Hawthorne’s earlier complaint and placed in doubt the validity of the minority participation figures that MPDP has been submitting to the CMPA board.

The main agenda item for the committee meeting last night was the EBO complaint by Green Construction against Heaton Brothers, which I wrote about in an earlier post. Heaton won the contract for sitework with a bid that stated Green would be a subcontractor and get about 30 percent of the work.

Heaton and all the bidders for the work bid more than the budget for the work. To get the work, the company had to cut the price and reduced Green’s prices without conferring with him before modifying the bid and being awarded the contract. When Green got upset, Heaton Brothers replaced him with Williams Brothers.

The CMPA board wasn’t told of the change, and MPDP had to admit it didn’t know about it. When the board approved the contract, Heaton still had Green as his subcontractor and Magi Construction (the builder of which MPDP is a 49-percent partner) told the board that the minority participation was 25 percent—-even though they hadn’t talked with Green about the bid reductions.

After to listening to representatives from Magi, Heaton and Green for about 90 minutes, Committee chair Bentina Terry said that miscommunication was at the heart of much of the dispute. “Several of the violations of the EBO agreement by Heaton and Magi are not necessarily intentional,” Terry said. “Some are technical, but they are important.”

Terry said there should have been a meeting between Hoar, Magi, Heaton, Green and MPDP as soon as the dispute arose, which is what the EBO agreement calls for. She placed the responsibility for the failure to the follow the EBO agreement on MPDP, who should have interceded and should have made sure the contractors follow and understand the EBO.

Davison tried to blame the EBO agreement for creating the problem—the same one he used to defend MPDP against the Hawthorne complaint last month. He claimed the agreement had several discrepancies, shortcomings and internal conflicts. He said that he had verified everything that he had been given by Magi and Heaton, but he didn’t know about any second round of bids when Heaton cut its bid price. He said the contractor, not MPDP failed to comply with the EBO.

“We can only police so much,” Davison said. He said that he had talked with the parties and been told that they were “still working it out.”

Terry jumped on that last statement by Davison immediately because both Heaton and Green had made it clear that they hadn’t met since Green had been dropped from the work. Davison had to back up and admit that wasn’t what was said. He had to admit that statement was never made by Magi, Heaton or Green.

The EBO Committee voted 3-0 (Grace McCaffery was absent) to find MPDP out of compliance with the EBO. The company has 30 days to cure the default.

Although the EBO Committee didn’t pursue it last night, CMPA needs to look into the agreement between Heaton and Williams Brothers, the new minority subcontractor.

Heaton representatives last night said that Williams had never had a contract more than $7,000-$10,000 but now has a $1.2 million contract. When Green and others questioned how Williams could be paid $1.2 million for hauling dirt, it was pointed out in the course of the discussion that the dirt was being bought from Heaton Brothers and being included in the Williams’ contract. Hawthorne claimed in his statements on the behalf of Green that Heaton Brother trucks were hauling the dirt for Williams.

So if the $1.2 million contract that Williams is said to have includes him buying the dirt from Heaton and using Heaton’s trucks and employees to haul it, how can MPDP and the EBO program director call this valid minority participation?

If all these statements are true, I don’t see how any one can say Williams is anything more than a pass-through to Heaton Brothers…with Williams getting some small payoff for letting his name be used. Maybe I misheard what was said, but CMPA should ask for a full report on this contract.

Since they heard the same things I did, Tony McCray and his team (who are reportedly paid $4000 a month) will probably be on it first thing this morning….so will the Compliance Officer Lou Ray (paid $2000-$1000/mo.)….and, of course, MPDP (paid $2500/mo).