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Thursday, November 12, 2009

BART Severs Ties With Controversial Contractor -- But State Official Says Money Earmarked for Project May Not Be Gone

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 5:59 PM

click to enlarge bart_train_thumb_250x192.jpg
This evening BART canceled its pact with Nedar Bey after the controversial lighting contractor failed to provide documentation proving he'd lined up the necessary bonding, insurance, and licensing to handle a state-funded project at North Berkeley station.

This is significant, as it is unclear if the up to $780,000 earmarked for the project by the California Transportation Commission will evaporate with the dissolution of BART's contract with Bey. The CTC's terms originally mandated that a contract must be signed by Oct. 31. BART signed a contract with Bey on Oct. 30 -- but gave him until today to line up the aforementioned documentation. He did not, and the fate of BART's project -- and its state grant -- are uncertain. For the complete backstory, see here.

BART officials have repeatedly told SF Weekly that they are unsure what will become of the money -- or even what steps they will take next. But SF Weekly contacted the CTC -- and its deputy director implied that BART stands a decent chance of not losing out on that money.

"It is possible for an agency to request an extension to award the contract -- but this should be done 60 days prior to the deadline in order for us to evaluate that this was an 'unforeseen circumstance' for the agency," said Mitchell Weiss, the CTC's deputy director. "That being said, if there's a good reason, the [CTC] may make an exception to its policies."

In Weiss' estimation, a contractor failing -- twice -- to provide scads of necessary documentation could well be considered both an "unforeseen circumstance" and a "good reason" to ask for an extension.

"I don't think anybody enters into the bidding process assuming the contractor can't live up to their agreement," said Weiss. "The goal we all have is getting the projects done. If there are unforeseen circumstances, we're willing to work with them."

In Bey's case, however, one could argue that this course of events was not totally unforeseen. The scion of the Your Black Muslim Bakery empire stiffed the city of Oakland on a $1.1 million business loan in 1996, and, according to the state database, does not possess a contractor's license. Yet Weiss said a level of scrutiny in which the state would query why someone with history of mishandling public money would be awarded a BART contract will not be applied. In other words, regardless of who won the bid, this sort of failure by a contractor is likely an "unforeseen circumstance."

Had BART failed to get a contract signed prior to Oct. 30, however, Weiss believes the money for the project would have vanished.

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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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