When Richard Toppino was first appointed to replace Melva Wagner on the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) board, KeysNews.com published a story: Toppino vows to avoid voting conflicts. I don’t think much of the story or the “vow”. I wrote about that here.
But now that the appointment is made, this nebulous “vow” is all the ratepayers have to protect themselves. I suppose the only recourse is to try and hold Toppino to it. The first step would be to determine exactly how much money the Toppino companies have made off the ratepayers. And that means finding information on any subcontracts they might hold. One would think, for the sake of keeping the “vow”, Mr. Toppino and the FKAA might freely part with that information without being asked. So far, nothing.
In fact, I submitted a public records request to the FKAA asking for a list of subcontractors on all current projects. I was told that FKAA contract documents do not require a list of subcontractors. How odd. It’s a standard contract requirement.
It turns out that the contract documents for the Cudjoe Regional Outer Islands project actually require quite a lot more than a list. Here’s the exact language.
During execution of the Project, the Design-Builder will be contractually required to meet or exceed the percentage of minority, women and local businesses indicated in their Proposal. Participation shall be verified by submittal of invoices from minority, women and local businesses with the pay applications.
Not only is there a list required, the Design-Builder must provide documentation so that the FKAA can verify the participation levels of certain types of businesses. That means that for this project, if any of the Toppino companies participated there will be documentation to verify the subcontract amounts. The language is forceful and clear.
Okay. That’s for a design-build project. What about a design-bid-build project? The Cudjoe Regional Inner Islands is that type of project and so is the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. It turns out the contract documents both contain documentation requirements for subcontractors. No surprise. As I said, this is standard.
It’s buried in Addendum 1 of each of the projects. You’ll find it on page 8 for the Wastewater Facility project and page 13 of the Instructions to Bidders for the Inner Islands project. The additional requirements for minority and women-owned businesses and local business participation suggest that the FKAA not only requires a list of subcontractors, but also the amounts of the subcontracts. Otherwise how would they verify participation levels?
The FKAA reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids wherein a subcontractor is named and to make the award to the Bidder, who, in the opinion of the FKAA will be in the best interest of and/or most advantageous to the FKAA. The FKAA also reserves the right to reject a bid of any Bidder if the bid names a subcontractor who has previously failed in the proper performance of an award or failed to deliver on time contracts of a similar nature, or who is not in a position to perform properly under this award. The FKAA reserves the right to make said determination. Bidders are hereby informed that the FKAA encourages the utilization and participation of Minority and Women Business Enterprises and Local Businesses in contracts financed with Monroe County and Florida SRF funds. Bidders are encouraged to seek Minority and Women Business Enterprises and Local Businesses for participation in subcontracting opportunities. Contractors should use goals of 9% for MBE, 3% for WBE, and 15% of their Bid price for participation of locally owned businesses. Credit will be given in each category if a locally-owned business is also a MBE and/or WBE.
Bottom line, despite what Mr. Feldman told me, the FKAA’s contract documents require that the subcontractor’s be disclosed to the FKAA. Not only that, it looks like the bid award was partially based on a certain amount of participation of local businesses and minority and women business enterprises. The Toppino companies would certainly qualify as local businesses.
Why would Mr. Feldman tell me that there is no such requirement when there very clearly is? I’ve submitted another public records request for the subcontractors on the Outer Islands. When or if I hear back, I’ll tell you all about it.