Last month, BART's board of directors awarded part of a multimillion-dollar lighting contract to Nedar Bey — who, earlier this year, had accused that very same board of being "servants of the devil." Then things got weird.
That's because Bey isn't your prototypical lighting contractor. He's a former associate of Oakland's infamous Your Black Muslim Bakery empire. In 1996, he stiffed the City of Oakland on a $1.1 million business loan. And, according to the state's database, he doesn't hold a contractor's license. Yet, despite these blips on Bey's résumé, he earned a contract worth up to $780,000 in state funds to redo lighting at North Berkeley BART.
BART may come to regret taking a chance on Bey. There's a very real possibility that the state transportation money allotted for this job could roll away like that last city-bound train at 12:26 a.m.
On Oct. 22, the BART board split the state-funded job to redo lighting at both North Berkeley and Oakland's 12th Street stations; Bey's Solar Eclipse company would handle the former, while LINC Corporation — which performed similar work at San Francisco's 16th Street and 24th Street stations — would work the latter. BART pressed the contractors that there was no time to lose; the state's promised millions would evaporate if contracts weren't signed by Oct. 31.
With a minimum of drama, LINC turned in the paperwork proving it had lined up the necessary bonding and licensing five days prior to the deadline. Bey did not. As of press time, he still has not. And only a last-minute Oct. 30 contract kept the state funds allotted for the North Berkeley job from vanishing.
Here's the catch, though: BART saved the possibility of state funding only by signing a contract with Bey stating he must obtain licensing and bonding by Nov. 12. And if he doesn't — well, what then? Numerous BART officials have essentially given the same answer: good question.
"Let's cross that bridge when we get to it," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. "I'm not sure we know the answer to that just yet."
That bridge, however, is now looming. When last we checked, Bey had not lined up the necessary bonding; the solar contractor refused to answer any questions when reached on his cellphone. If Bey reneges, BART board president Thomas Blalock thought the best possible scenario might be that the hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for lighting at North Berkeley could be shunted over to projects at 12th Street Oakland. That'd be relatively good news — until it got dark at North Berkeley.
No word yet on whether the board will accuse Bey of having a devil-may-care attitude.