27 Feb PB State attorney examines Delray commissioner’s role in award of $50,000 contract
Concerned Delray Citizens:
Please take the time to read the lengthy, well-written PBP article below which “brings to light” Commissioner Gray’s actions to award a contract to her friend and now paid Campaign advisor– former Commissioner Alberta McCarthy.
The State Attorney’s criminal investigation confirms rumors which have been swirling for months. I have not disclosed this previously because I try to avoid “hearsay” with my communications to you. Invariably, I quote and often provide “chapter and verse” in documented PUBLIC RECORD to substantiate my statements/positions (like Ms. Gray’s Domestic Violence against her daughter).
I think Commissioner Gray’s refusal to answer any questions concerning her criminal investigation speaks volumes about her (1)- (lack of) ethics and (2)- complicity. There is a “hanging” matter in the article below which I have bolded. I can’t wait to see what the State Attorney unveils here!
The writer also spotlights how flawed Delray’s procurement procedures and practices are. I have been harping to the Commission on this serious business breakdown since 2009 to no avail.
Instead, we have had to listen Commissioners Gray and Jacquet laud praise on staff who obviously struggles mightily with a basic business practice.
The Gray/McCarthy relationship has another “questionable” connection which the writer fails to mention. In 2009, the City awarded a $85K Race Relations Study to Ms. McCarthy even though the competitive bid from a more qualified party was only $30K.
It gets worse! The City advanced $77K of the contract without receiving any work product from Ms. McCarthy. Rumor had it that the long delayed report was drafted by City staff because it was a “cut and paste” of the previous Race relations Study done several years earlier. The Commission stated it saw very little value in Ms. McCarthy’s report. Ms. Genevieve Dole did thorough research and dissemination on this matter in 2010.
Sadly, this is our Delray City governance and administration– something Commissioners like Gray and Jacquet ignore and try to conceal from you. Please now be further enlightened and remember this and other matters when you vote on March 11th. Our only chance for corrective action is at the polls!
– Kenneth MacNamee
State attorney examines Delray commissioner’s role in award of $50,000 contract
Posted: 8:13 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014
BY JOHN LANTIGUA – PALM BEACH POST STAFF WRITER
The involvement of a Delray Beach city commissioner in the award of a $50,000 contract to a firm tied to her campaign manager has prompted a criminal investigation by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, The Palm Beach Post has learned.
Commissioner Angeleta Gray, who is up for reelection in March, employed former Commissioner Alberta McCarthy on her campaign team. Gray also voted to deliver a contract to a firm that listed McCarthy as part of its leadership team.
When asked about the potential conflict, Gray said she would not discuss the matter and confirmed that it is being investigated by the state attorney’s office and the city. The state attorney’s office declined to comment.
The city commission awarded the contract Dec.10 to International Enterprise Development or IED of Ocean Ridge. The contract called for the company to provide technical assistance and counseling to Delray citizens starting and operating small businesses — called in the contract “microenterprises.” Most of the businesses would be in low-income areas.
In its bid for the contract, IED listed McCarthy as the program director. McCarthy served on the city commission from 2000 to 2004.
In documents filed with the city both in 2013 and 2014 McCarthy also is listed as the campaign manager for Gray. On three occasions, Gray’s campaign paid McCarthy $500 for her services, according to Gray’s campaign spending reports.
When the microenterprise contract came up for a vote, Gray spoke briefly in support of awarding the contract to the firm McCarthy represents and voted for that award without divulging her political connection to McCarthy.
McCarthy on Wednesday denied that she was the program director for the microenterprise project and when asked how her name and that title were listed on the official bid by the company she said: “I don’t know.”
But on the firm’s website she is listed as the “training director …. responsible for providing business training for clients in the Microenterprise Business Loan Fund Program.” And on a Nov. 12 sign-in sheet for a meeting with city officials before the contract was awarded, McCarthy’s signature appears along with that of IED President Lynn Allison.
Wednesday McCarthy referred a Post reporter to Allison for any comment about the Delray contract.
“I refuse to discuss that,” Allison said and she hung up.
The contract was bid on by one other company, the Center for Enterprise Opportunity, based in West Palm Beach. That firm’s executive director, Lia Gaines, filed a formal bid protest three days after it was awarded. A committee of city employees was formed to study her complaints.
Friday, that committee wrote to City Manager Louie Chapman that four points Gaines raised in her protest have merit. They returned the matter to Chapman, who will decide the next step. Chapman was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Complicating matters, Gaines, through her parent company, Business Loans of the Palm Beaches, had loaned money to Gray to help her develop her business, Top Notch Hair Dimensions. State records describe a loan for an undisclosed amount in 2009.
Gaines said the loan was paid off toward the end of 2013, around the time the microenterprise contract was being awarded. Gaines refused to provide details on exactly when and how the debt was paid off, citing client confidentiality.
Her bid protest made no mention of Gray’s loan or of the relationship between Gray and McCarthy, but it cited 10 other areas where Gaines insisted the selection process, performed by a committee of city employees, was flawed.
She pointed out that the liability insurance certificate and certificate for workers compensation coverage submitted by IED were both expired.
“Those certificates are absolutely necessary,” Gaines said. “That should have disqualified IED right away.”
Gaines noted that a document included in the bid packet that denied any conflict of interest by IED had never been signed by Allison.
Gaines’ protest also said she had not been sent a necessary bid addendum, while IED had been sent the document. The addendum contained a warning that if a bidder didn’t sign and return the document to indicate it had been received, the bidder could be eliminated from consideration. Gaines, a former aide to County Commissioner Maude Ford Lee, said the failure to send her the form was indicative of the lack of serious attention paid to the contract by the city staff.
Gaines protested that the selection committee had violated Florida public meeting laws, in part by not taking minutes of their final meeting, when IED was recommended to the City Commission.
“I’ve never seen a selection committee operate like this in my life,” said Gaines, who has been working in economic development for 20 years.
All of those complaints, except for the failure to sign the conflict of interest letter, were confirmed and included in the letter sent by the bid protest committee to Chapman Friday.
Gaines’ protest said numerous city employees had violated the city’s procurement code and the legal requirements contained in the bid itself.
She named Chapman; City Attorney Brian Shutt; Patsy Nadal, purchasing manager; Lula Butler, director of the Community Improvement Department; Nigel Roberts, neighborhood services administrator; Vin Nolan, director of economic development and of the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency; Elizabeth Burrows, economic development manager; Ferline Mesidort, community development specialist; and Danise Cleckley, executive assistant.
Roberts, Nolan, Burrows, Mesidort and Cleckley all sat on the selection committee. They all rated IED higher than Gaines’ firm.
Gaines particularly questioned one category on the scoring cards filled out by the selection committee. Two — Roberts and Cleckley — ranked IED higher in the “fee structure” category even though Gaines’ firm bid $50,000 while IED bid at $55,400, which exceeded the agreed-upon budget amount.
If the points those two committee members allocated had been reversed, Gaines said, her firm would have won the contract.
“I understand that price is only one factor in a bid, but why would they give them more points than me on the question of fees if I stayed within the boundaries of the program and they went over,” Gaines said. “That just doesn’t make sense.”
McCarthy, while running her own consulting firm, Alberta and Associates, was awarded another city contract in 2009. She was paid $85,000 to deliver an assessment of race relations in the city.
The city has been criticized in recent years for its extension of a major garbage collection contract without bidding and its handling of a beach chair concession for the public beach.
Staff researcher Michelle Quigley contributed to this story