by Sam Hieb
The Rhino’s John Hammer wonders why City Manager Mitchell Johnson overpaid the contract to tear down Willow Oaks Shopping Center:
Suddenly it is the city’s responsibility to prove that the contractor should not be paid an additional $35,006 on a $30,959 initial contract. The statement doesn’t make any sense unless you go to the list and find that the company involved, United Maintenance Group LLP (UMG), is on Greensboro’s Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) Program’s certified roster.
For every contract that is awarded by the City Council, one of the three black women councilmembers will ask about MWBE participation. The MWBE program costs the city countless millions of dollars, and Johnson does not want to get on the bad side of the MWBE contracting community, which would be bad for him politically. So if you are the city manager weighing whether to award a contractor money that he is not legally entitled to or get on the wrong side of three councilmembers, the easy way out is obvious. But allowing a contractor to more than double his price makes a mockery of the whole bid process.
This shouldn’t make anyone feel good about the school system’s efforts to increase MWBE participation on construction projects.