Posted January 31, 2009 01:11 pm

Bizzaro world revisited

At their last meeting Augusta commissioners quietly, on their consent agenda, awarded a $1.1 million contract to RCN Contracting Inc., to build the Fire Department administration building off Deans Bridge Road.

That does it for Stewart-Corbitt General Construction’s protest, which commissioners had heard the week before but didn’t act on. Vice President Todd Stewart said his company was the low bidder for the job by about $10,000, but the Procurement Department disqualified him because a notary public didn’t fill in the date line on some affidavits.

Commissioner Don Grantham said later that the board should talk about setting up guidelines on when it can override Procurement Director Geri Sams, specifically establishing what are “minor technicalities” that can be overlooked. That discussion hasn’t taken place yet.

Ms. Sams said no one wants to see such guidelines in place more than her. She pointed to a city ordinance that says she can’t waive “material conditions” and that requests to do so have to go before the commission. In Stewart-Corbitt’s case, the commission was at a loss on what it could legally do.

City Attorney Chiquita Johnson said guidelines could be set up by amending the Procurement code, but that would be tough right now because of all the pending litigation involving the department.

A lot of that litigation involves – guess what – allegations by low bidders that they were rejected over technicalities.