- Peter Lawson Jones
When it recently came time to award an asbestos-removal contract for the new county administration building, the two commissioners outvoted colleague Peter Lawson Jones and gave the $7.4 million deal to Precision Environmental. The catch: Precision's bid was $915,000 above the lowest bidder.
Despite running the poorest county west of Somalia, Hagan and Dimora -- motto: Wasting Your Money For Time Immemorial -- thought it wise to spend the extra mil, arguing that Precision had more experience on large projects. What they neglected to mention was that Precision has way more experience screwing black workers.
In March, monitors overseeing a county project discovered something strange: The white-owned Precision had the same people on its payroll as the black contractor, Lawrence Harris Construction.
It's an age-old scam to avoid Cleveland's diversity quota, which is designed to give black workers a shot at public jobs. The white company does all the work, kicks a small portion to a black front company to pretend it's also on the job, and everyone's happy -- except black tradesmen who were hoping to find gainful employment ["Black on Black Crime," February 21].
Precision, in fact, has a history of running such scams. Seven years ago, the feds caught the company using another black front, Choice Construction, on a NASA Glenn project.
Of course, base criminality has never been an impediment to getting government work here -- even if you're charging $915,000 more than the next guy. After the March incident, Adrian Maldonado, the county's director of procurement and diversity, ordered Harris to hire a more "diversified" workforce, and vowed to crack down on black fronts ["Me Too!" First Punch, March 7]. It was a long-overdue move, since everyone from the commissioners to multiple mayors have allowed the scheme to run for years. But with Hagan and Dimora in charge, the crackdown only lasted five months.
Lawson Jones, who voted against the latest deal, says Midwest Asbestos Abatement of Missouri, the lowest bidder, was perfectly qualified for the job. When you're broke, he notes, a $915,000 savings might be best described as "quite significant."
"I don't know what they were thinking," he says of Hagan and Dimora. "They didn't give any rationale that day." Punch's guess: It might have something to do with a Giant Eagle bag filled with unmarked $20s.
Either way, fear not, Missouri companies. If you send Jimmy a pack of hot dogs and some Super Fudge Chunk, you'll be eligible for the consolation prize: a $400,000 contract to wax his bikini line.
Fresh from penning his infamous letter to an esteemed representative of the Collinwood drug trade, Councilman Mike Polensek continued his war against morons, thugs, and crack-dealing pieces of trash last week, railing against a billboard that he felt glorified drug use.
The advertisement for Seagram's Gin & Juice carried an image of a partying young black woman, along with the words "I bring dope style and laughs."
Asked the ad: "What do you bring to the party?"
To anyone without a Golden Buckeye card or a handicapped parking spot at the VFW hall, "dope," in this context, is clearly meant to imply hip or cool. But Polensek's heard enough Snoop Dogg to know Seagram's is referring to the devil weed. And we all know what happens when Mikey gets mad.
"Dope is supposed to be hip? Supposed to be cool? Get outta here!" the lovable councilman fumed when asked if he was mistaken. To erase any doubt, he cited the Urban Dictionary, an online guide to street slang, in which he found over 50 meanings for the word "dope."
Almost all the definitions referred to drugs, says Polensek. The others, not surprisingly, had "to do with being dumb or being a moron."
Whether the young lady in the ad was speaking of a briefcase full of heroin, or simply calling herself retarded, Polensek wanted the ad gone. He and a band of angry neighbors flooded the phone lines at ClearChannel, which owns the billboard, demanding it be taken down. By Thursday, Polensek got his wish. The ad was replaced by a public-service message about the importance of graduating high school. Because if you don't graduate, you're a goddamned idiot, and a piece of trash.
ClearChannel's Bill Platko doesn't agree that the ad was offensive, but he knows better than to battle Mikey when the councilman's in the midst of a Stage IV Psycho Alert. "Although we didn't necessarily agree with the interpretation of the complaint, we do, however, understand the sensitivity of the community," says Platko.
A View from the top
Tom Eggett, owner of The View nightclub, enjoys a pampered life. He owns a $1 million house in Aurora, travels the globe, is president of the local Porsche club, and built The View on a whim to have a place where he and his friends could party.
Eggett's key to success? Stiffing people.
3-R Construction, which has done work for Pickwick & Frolic, Lola, and XO, started work on The View in 2005. In the beginning, Eggett was prompt with payments. But when construction stopped, his wallet mysteriously stopped working as well.
A year and a half later, he still hasn't paid 3-R the $38,000 he owes. Like a child believing that if he hides under the bed, no one can find him, Eggett simply stopped answering the company's calls.
3-R isn't alone among the stiffed. Woodart Designs, which helped refurbish the club, claims Eggett owes it $22,000 for interior work. Architect Richard Fleischman has sued for non-payment. "It was ridiculous," says Fleischman. "We changed drawings, edited drawings, tried to help him out, and he told us they didn't owe us anything."
Unfortunately for 3-R, it doesn't have the loot for a suit. "We're just a young professional company that was taken advantage of," says Michaele Pavelecky, the owner's sister-in-law. "If the bar is still open, it must be making some kind of money . . . and with all the East Fourth Street construction, business is only going to get better. It makes me so mad."
Eggett, of course, declined comment.