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Media Coverage
Feds Suspend Point Molate Grant
June 11, 1996



Tuesday, June 11, 1996
Section: news
Page: A01
Caption: PHOTO. Tom Butt, mug.

RICHMOND Federal officials are suspending grant payments for the Point Molate redesign project after determining the city did not comply with federal requirements in selection of a consultant.

In a letter faxed to Mayor Rosemary Corbin late Friday, the acting director of the Office of Economic Adjustment said two problems were found in Richmond's selection process:

The city has no procedures governing the selection of a contractor, and has no formal protest procedures to resolve procurement disputes, wrote Helene O'Connor.

"Because of these inconsistencies with federal requirements, OEA is suspending all payments and authorization for any activity under this grant . . . until these problems are resolved," the letter states.

The city must "establish a method, consistent with (federal requirements) for awarding contracts using federal funds," the letter continued. The procedures that the city has pertain only to the evaluation of the proposals submitted, O'Connor wrote.

Richmond must also "establish formal protest procedures to handle and resolve disputes relating to procurements using federal grant funds."

Federal officials imposed no time limit, but reminded the city that the grant agreement expires Jan. 31.

City Manager Floyd Johnson said Monday that he and his staff are in the process of interpreting the letter. They have called a special meeting of the City Council, sitting as the Local Reuse Authority, for today at 6:55 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall.

The federal Office of Economic Adjustment gave Richmond a $150,000 grant to help with the redesign of the former naval fuels depot that lies west of the Chevron refinery.

Richmond, in turn, hired Dan Peterson & Associates, an architectural firm, to come up with ideas on how the base could be used.

But the vote by five council members to hire Peterson was criticized by their colleague, Councilman Tom Butt, who complained to the OEA, an arm of the Defense Department. Butt alleged that five members of the council voted for Peterson because lobbyist Darrell Reese wanted them to. He also argued that the selection process was flawed.

OEA did not take a position on the political issue.

"While the original protest letter also raised the issue of possible conflict of interest by members of the City Council, OEA makes no evaluation of these allegations, as they fall more properly under the jurisdiction of state and local authorities," the letter states.

Butt later amended his allegation to say he did not intend to imply that council members took bribes.

He declined to comment on the OEA letter Monday.