Construction firm sues city over bid

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Yet another business has filed suit against Augusta over its purchasing practices, this time for rejecting a bid that is nearly $2 million cheaper than the proposed winner.

The lawsuit filed by McKnight Construction has been assigned to Judge Michael N. Annis. He signed a temporary restraining order Tuesday to keep the city from awarding the multimillion-dollar contract to build the Phinizy Road jail expansion. A hearing is set for 2 p.m. Thursday in Richmond County Superior Court.

According to city purchasing documents, McKnight Construction was one of four companies that submitted a bid last month for the project. At $26,767,510, McKnight was the lowest bidder.

The next lowest bidder, which is set to get the project, was R.W. Allen & Associates at $28,689,000.

The project includes not just the physical structure, but everything that would encompass the jail expansion, such as plumbing, electric, heating and air, and locking machinery. According to other city documents, the jail expansion was expected to break ground this week.

The bidding process for the project was delayed as city officials changed the specifications of the project three times. The third change included 92 revisions. The bids were opened June 12.

McKnight's bid was rejected, according to the lawsuit, because it did not include a "non-collusion affidavit of contract" -- a statement swearing no bid-rigging was involved.

McKnight's attorney John B. Long said that bid specification is contrary to state law. The law requires the affidavit to be filed after a contract is awarded, not before.

"There is no way that a 'non-collusion affidavit' can be signed that would have any meaning until after a bid has been presented," the lawsuit reads. It would actually provide a loophole for bid-rigging, Mr. Long said.

McKnight's lawsuit also complains that although its bid was rejected for a technical violation, R.W. Allen & Association's bid was not. The lawsuit alleges R.W. Allen was in technical violation because the company did not provide the required list of subcontractors.

Both companies are experienced and qualified to do the job, but at nearly $2 million cheaper it is a waste of taxpayers' funds to reject McKnight, the lawsuit contends.

The lawsuit references a 2006 appellate decision concerning the bidding process for two construction companies in competition to build a Columbia County school.

In that case, the Georgia Court of Appeals judges wrote the state law governing the bidding process is specifically designed to protect taxpayers' money to ensure quality work and goods for the lowest possible price.

That is why the law grants public bodies the ability to waive technical errors, the appellate judges wrote in the decision.

McKnight's lawsuit is the most recent litigation involving the city's purchasing practices.

A federal lawsuit is pending against Augusta that claims bids are awarded unfairly and without understandable justification, allegations the city has denied.

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dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 07/23/08 - 04:49 am
0
0
Don't worry Augustans, the
Unpublished

Don't worry Augustans, the city can always raise taxes to pay
for legal expenses. Why take the lowest qualified bid and save
two million dollars it just taxpayers' money! By the way, lets
not question the city about this because it may cause some
racial tension in the city if a non white is questioned about how
they run their department.

Reality
3
Points
Reality 07/23/08 - 05:19 am
0
0
I wonder what the other bids

I wonder what the other bids were, there is roughly 7% left on the table. If all of the other bids were a lot closer McKnight will get the money back on change orders.

Ga Values
27
Points
Ga Values 07/23/08 - 05:57 am
0
0
Does the City of Augusta ever

Does the City of Augusta ever buy anything at low bid or is everything a deal for the connected?

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 07/23/08 - 06:15 am
0
0
While low bid doesn't mean

While low bid doesn't mean best bid, these are two experienced and qualified contractors. A $2million discrepancy is worth checking into. Either someone missed something when bidding or someone was padding the bid. Competition will prevent this problem if the entity accepting the bid is competent and honest.

stadry
0
Points
stadry 07/23/08 - 06:47 am
0
0
big difference in bid

big difference in bid amounts,,, you'd normally not be surprised at 1 or 2% but 7 raises eyebrows,,, both're well-qualified,,, ' padding ' only counts when billing for change orders,,, the issue of the ' non-collusive ' has always been an issue for me, too,,, i'd be putting $$$ on mc knight or a re-bid,,, purchasing's got a tough position to defend yet they continue to operate capriciously in spite of their history,,, we weren't awarded because of the same action ( non-action if you will ),,, good luck to mc knight,,, if they win, so does the city to the tune of almost $2M.

I4PUTT
5
Points
I4PUTT 07/23/08 - 06:49 am
0
0
Pat is right. These are 2

Pat is right. These are 2 very qualified contractors. A difference of 7% in a bid this size is huge. I hope Will McKnight has checked every thing a dozen times. It would be horrible to win the battle and lose the war. Perhaps it's time to get qualified people on staff at ARC. The cracks in our government are becoming huge.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 07/23/08 - 07:18 am
0
0
The city's attorney is
Unpublished

The city's attorney is boardering on incompetent behavior and must be allied with these plantiffs. In federal hiring, just like with govnm't contracts, the government has the prerogative to decide whom to select, based on almost anything. (just know what a firm is missing, then say that firm is not prepared or suitable) Govnm't always wins. So, what is goining on with this bunch? At first glance, there appears to be collusion going on because such a case is easily disproved, except that this bunch probably has friends within the judical system. If properly reviewed, at the core of this suit is racial animosity.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 07/23/08 - 07:24 am
0
0
Of course justus4, everything

Of course justus4, everything is based on racial animosity. Up until the last silly sentence, your post was spot on.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 07/23/08 - 07:29 am
0
0
The lowest bidder is not

The lowest bidder is not always given the contract, as in the case of SRS. I have to bow to the experts on this one, but reading the prior post, both company are looked at in a favorable way but how do you explain a 2 million dollars difference? I mean is this going to be the routine. Lose a bid file a lawsuit? Also, what is the remedy if a company underbid and then in the middle of construction request more mone? It has happen before.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 07/23/08 - 08:01 am
0
0
Here we go again. If in fact

Here we go again. If in fact both bids were "incomplete", then the third bidder should have been chosen. Or, does the Purchasing Dept get to choose its own level of blindness. With the lawsuits now in place, it is past time for the Commission to clean out the Purchasing Dept from the top, down. Just keep reminding yourselves about the candy factory demolition.

Riverman1
82184
Points
Riverman1 07/23/08 - 08:05 am
0
0
The last one out of Augusta,

The last one out of Augusta, turn off the lights.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 07/23/08 - 08:11 am
0
0
Riverman, running away isn't

Riverman, running away isn't the way to solve a problem.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 07/23/08 - 08:28 am
0
0
Lose a bid file a lawsuit

Lose a bid file a lawsuit happens all the time firefighter....

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 07/23/08 - 08:38 am
0
0
Too many contested bids. When

Too many contested bids. When will something be done about the City Purchasing Department and its staff?

Augustaguy1962
0
Points
Augustaguy1962 07/23/08 - 08:54 am
0
0
There were 4 bids turned in

There were 4 bids turned in on this project. McKnight Construction was tremendously low. The other 3 bids were extremely close. That tells anyone in construction he left out something big. The ones who suffer for his mistake will not be the taxpayers, but the people who sub contract from him. If you research McKnight's history of jobs where he left large amounts of money, he hurt the subs the most. The Columbia County Library is one example where he put many subs out of business by not paying them the money he owed them at the end of the job. Many people in this area and around the state will not bid work for him because of his reputation for hurting the subs. He makes up his mistakes by taking form the lower tier subs. Give the job to a contractor who has a stellar reputation in the state of Georgia, RW Allen. Do you really want a contractor who leaves out the non collusion affadavit? I don't want him near a job. He has known he left it out since bid day. He has known since June 16, his bid was bad and he waits till they are ready to break ground to start a fuss.

Reality
3
Points
Reality 07/23/08 - 09:06 am
0
0
McKnight is doing all of the

McKnight is doing all of the renovation and building at the Airport as well. They are known, as stated above for screwing subs out of money........

RogueKnight
210
Points
RogueKnight 07/23/08 - 09:09 am
0
0
Let me tell you something

Let me tell you something about McKnight Construction. In the late 80's, early 90's, I worked as an estimator for a site work company here in Augusta. There was a large project at SRS that was being bid around summer of 1990. There was about a million dollars worth of site work on it. My company was the only company who submitted an estimate for the site work, but the bids for the project were all rejected and it was let for rebid. We resubmitted our site work bids when the project was finally re-let. McKnight ended up low bidder, but we started hearing from other general contractors that there was another site work quote that was just under ours. To make a long story short, Mason McKnight shopped our site work estimate and spoon fed it to another site work contractor. We did all the leg work putting the detailed estimate together and he handed it to another site work contractor and said, "Here's their numbers. What will you do it for?" We even requested a meeting at his office, which he granted. He told us, point blank, "I give all my site work to (the other contractor.) Sorry." I don't know if that was illegal, but to me, it showed a lack of scruples. I hope they lose in court.

thistownisunbelievable
1
Points
thistownisunbelievable 07/23/08 - 09:33 am
0
0
Justus4 is kidding, by the

Justus4 is kidding, by the way. He does this with every story to try to get a rise out of people.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 07/23/08 - 09:44 am
0
0
If what you guys are saying

If what you guys are saying is correct, and I have no reason to believe it is not, then I, along with others, might just owe Purchasing an apology --- this time....

voluptuously_auburn1
0
Points
voluptuously_auburn1 07/23/08 - 10:00 am
0
0
My ex-husband had several

My ex-husband had several dealings with them as the owner of a (sub-contractor) business ... they screwed, hemmed and hawed around for the longest and still never paid him completely for the jobs he did for them. I hope McKnight loses big time. Now they hopefully will reap the bad karma coming to them for all the underhanded ways they tried and mostly succeeded in screwing the "little" people.

toldya
0
Points
toldya 07/23/08 - 10:17 am
0
0
Local or Federal Gov't are

Local or Federal Gov't are NOT required to take the lowest bids. I have estimated jobs before and I know this first hand. There are alot of things that must be furnished along with the bid. If the package is not complete, then you automatically lose the bid. I have dealt with both these companies and I know first hand alot of the "rumors" about McKinight are true. I also know that RW Allen have superintendents that are pains in the [filtered word] to work with and they whine. 26M or 28M still seems too high- they need to do a re-bid.

PLAYLIKETHUNDER4
0
Points
PLAYLIKETHUNDER4 07/23/08 - 10:26 am
0
0
jigstus4....both of those

jigstus4....both of those firms are so far ahead of the average contractor in experience and completed projects , it's a moot point. they will settle this like the pros they are.
race has nothing to do with it. however, let's hope you unfounded , typically brainless,stupid accusation makes both contractors so mad that they quit using minority subs, then all your negro friends can kick your butt for them losing work(that means earn a living-not live on welfare)
i try to listen and learn, i been friends with black folk all my life, in fact downtown are three or four old codgers i drink a little squeezin's with occaisionally....you single handedly wipeout all the desire for tolerance and good relations that comes from that because you are so stupid.
as for the rest of you finger pointing race police,(rcr,sigraci,paul cook,danelli- tell you what, put a muzzle on this boy -he's whacked)
this incident is about business, nothing to do with hidden race anything....really how much of a stretch was it for your deluded imagination to crap this out???

mickeymoose
0
Points
mickeymoose 07/23/08 - 10:27 am
0
0
price should not always be

price should not always be the deciding factor. i think it should be price, company as a whole, previous jobs, etc.. you have people that go in, put in a cheap price, do the job crappy with cheap equipment and then it tears up . they have made their money and don't care. i would pay someone a little more for something if i know they are a quality and it will last. just my opinon

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 07/23/08 - 10:28 am
0
0
2 million less is a big gap,

2 million less is a big gap, how could they possible do it for that much less and still put out quality work? It just doesn't seem right somehow. cheaper isn't always better, you get what you pay for.

ONLY THE TRUTH
2
Points
ONLY THE TRUTH 07/23/08 - 10:31 am
0
0
Justus4 is right for a

Justus4 is right for a change. It is racial animosity. Teri Sams is Black. If she was a white person she would have been fired years ago!!

ITDoc
1
Points
ITDoc 07/23/08 - 10:35 am
0
0
"The bitterness of poor

"The bitterness of poor quality will remain long after the sweetness of low price fades." Zig Ziglar

i.b.e.w..electric
0
Points
i.b.e.w..electric 07/23/08 - 10:45 am
0
0
people,this doesnt really

people,this doesnt really surprise anyone does it

i.b.e.w..electric
0
Points
i.b.e.w..electric 07/23/08 - 10:45 am
0
0
people,this doesnt really

people,this doesnt really surprise anyone does it

toldya
0
Points
toldya 07/23/08 - 10:58 am
0
0
Well you actually have to be

Well you actually have to be licensed now in Georgia to be a Contractor. Can you beleive they didn't need licenses prior to 2 weeks ago?

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 07/23/08 - 11:07 am
0
0
How does a person's racist

How does a person's racist comments enrage you to the point that you become a racist? Play, all someone has to do is read your 10:26am post which is filled with boy this, negro that and know that JUSTUS or no one else, is to blame for your attitude. Might need to lay off the " squeezin's ".

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