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Commissioner Grady Smith withdraws government plumbing bid

Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 7:00 PM
Last updated 9:39 PM
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Augusta Commission member Grady Smith has withdrawn a bid his company made for work on a sheriff’s substation after media inquiries about a possible conflict of interest.

Smith, Super District 10 commissioner, said his company was building on a long-standing relationship with Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength when Smith Bros. Mechanical made a $24,000 bid last month to do plumbing work at the substation in south Augusta.

The move violated the city’s ethics code, which prohibits commissioners from substantially benefitting from city procurement contracts, unless they apply for an exception.

Smith said his company’s bid was the lowest by $12,000 and that he had an application for the exception on Monday’s finance committee agenda but withdrew the request Wednesday.

“I don’t ever want anybody to question my integrity,” Smith said. “I want everybody to think I’m doing things right.”

Despite withdrawing the bid and exception request, Smith said he wanted to continue a discussion at the committee meeting Monday on commissioners performing city contract work. Several commissioners are contractors and if their companies can do the work for less, they shouldn’t be automatically excluded, Smith said.

“We ought to do whatever we can as commissioners to save the taxpayers of Richmond County,” Smith said. “I’m just trying to change the verbiage so it will be ethical.”

Smith has served since 1998 as chairman of the state board that licenses plumbers. The Augusta company he owns with his brother employs about 50 people and has performed work for the sheriff’s office, at Fort Gordon and on school construction projects, he said.

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Austin Rhodes
Austin Rhodes 10/03/12 - 08:30 pm
Elected officials should not submit bids...

...on projects under their realm of influence. HOWEVER...Grady is a very smart guy...he needs to investigate and find out why all the other bids are SO HIGH compared to what he bid. Sounds like either a massive underbid on his company's behalf...or the other folks are trying to rip off the taxpayers.

scgator 10/03/12 - 10:00 pm
I know Grady and have bid

I know Grady and have bid against him in the past on a few projects; I understand the city getting cautious, but his company has been doing quality and cost effective work for the city long before he ever got in to politics. I say let them do the work; they will just do the same quality job that they have ALWAYS done for the city.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 10/03/12 - 10:09 pm

You've got to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

rebellious 10/04/12 - 01:08 am
At the cost of

$24,000. We need to be able to sort this out rationally. Twenty Four Thousand dollars. Repeat...$24,000 dollars...

my.voice 10/04/12 - 05:59 am
Funny this brings back

Funny this brings back memories if Betty Beard in terms of doing the right thing.......of course Betty didn't but who cares, right?

Does beating your wife violate the ethics code?

When Jerry Brigham pushed a cell tower developer towards HIS property, did that violate those ethics? Otherwise, as Mr Brigham said, I can't support your petition.

Does not showing for votes to prevent a quorum violate the code of ethics?

How about laving commission meeting early when things aren't going your way?

And on a non Commission related question, does spending $45,000 on a branding study only to pick a name NOT included in said study violate an ethics code of some sort?

Just askin......

OpenCurtain 10/04/12 - 08:04 am
Go Grady

I understand the public reason "as stated" and the rule makes sense considering the still current, all too frequent, questionable dealings of the ARC contract process.

If not already doing so, ARC should consider doing internal estimates prior to a released Request For Proposal (RFP). If the received bids fall unrealistically outside that estimate, then a written justification of the 3 lowest bids meeting the deliverables should required before any possible award.

Or, ARC should withdraw and re-bid with corrected requirements and deliverables.

Yep! I have Red Teamed many a Commerce Business Daily (CBD) RFP's.

jpbrig 10/04/12 - 08:31 am
Cell Tower

MV I do not own any property or owned any property with a cell tower on it. Get you facts right. The only tower I can think you maybe speaking about when on County property and the county got any and all fees for it. Jerry Brigham

obkad 10/04/12 - 10:27 am
Smith Brothers

Knowing Grady Smith and his family for many many years I can attest to the honesty of Grady. He is a good business man and any suspect of conflict of interest would surely be avoided by Grady. This is the right thing to do..and to you Rebellious.. You apparently haven't priced out how much it cost to do business in the contractor world.. Grady was low by 12,0000.00!!! we got a deal...

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