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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Controversial BART Contractor Still Hasn't Gotten His Act Together; Agency Facing Potential Loss of $780K in State Grants

Posted By on Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 11:59 AM

click to enlarge bart_train_thumb_250x192.jpg
In the print edition of today's SF Weekly, we reported on the saga of Nedar Bey, the controversial lighting contractor who may or may not cost BART hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grants.

The story is complex, but here it is in the tiniest possible nutshell: Last month, Nedar Bey was awarded a portion of a state-funded lighting project worth up to $3.2 million by the BART board. Per the state's regulations, all contracts had to be signed by Oct. 31, or the grant money earmarked for the job would vanish. Yet Bey -- a scion of the Your Black Muslim Bakery empire who in 1996 stiffed the city of Oakland on a $1.1 million loan -- was unable to come up with the necessary bonding, insurance, and licensing. On the verge of losing the money, BART and Bey's company, Solar Eclipse, inked an Oct. 30 deal -- but it may have only postponed the painful. Bey was given until tomorrow to shore up all of his loose ends.

Originally, the deadline was today -- but, thanks to the Veterans Day holiday, Bey was given an extra 24 hours. He'll need them. BART spokesman Linton Johnson today informed SF Weekly that Bey has still not come up with the documentation necessary to stave off the voiding of his contract. And if Bey's contract evaporates tomorrow, will the state-provided funds of up to $780,000 for the lighting project at the North Berkeley BART station follow suit? No one at BART knows. No one. 

Bey did not return SF Weekly's calls. But BART board member Bob Franklin was hopeful the contractor could get his affairs in order by tomorrow's deadline. Since Bey does not possess a contractor's license, Franklin noted, he has put together a joint venture -- and, hopefully, one of the companies he brought in does have a licensed contractor on board. "I think the business license should be pretty straightforward if the joint venture is legitimate," said Franklin. "And then there's bonding."

By the way, Franklin claims that, per BART policies, Bey's problematic past when it comes to handling public money could not have disqualified him from bidding on agency contracts. In fact, even if he does not come through with his paperwork tomorrow and BART loses out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in state money, Franklin still thinks Bey could not be precluded from entering bids on future contracts.

Meanwhile, what will become of the up to $780,000 in state grants set aside for lighting installations at North Berkeley station if Bey drops the ball is anyone's guess. Franklin and BART Board president Thomas Blalock hope some or all of the money can be shunted over to a lighting project at 12th Street Oakland station, and Franklin hopes the state would be amenable to giving BART an extension.

But no one can say for certain that, come Nov. 13, that money won't be whisked away for good.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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