KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Denver-based developer is asking the federal government to look into the award of contracts for the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport, which could cost taxpayers more money and delay the project.
Last week, members of the Kansas City Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee demanded Teresa Loar be removed as chairwoman following allegations of racism. At the time, Loar told FOX4 that this isn’t about racism, but about contract steering at KCI.
“We won the job fair and square,” said Eric Taylor, senior project manager with ESCO Construction.
His company is asking for a probe into KCI’s concrete contract, which was verbally awarded to his company until, he said, the Heavy Contractors Association somehow got a copy of its sealed bid and objected in an effort to steer contracts to companies within its organization. Namely, Ideker Construction, whose owner sits on the Heavy Contractors Association’s board and has been awarded the last five KCI contracts.
“This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my career. I’ve dealt with a lot of, probably, inequities,” Taylor said.
Bridget Williams, Executive Director of The Heavy’s sent this statement:
It is not only our right, but our obligation to speak out in support of local businesses, with real and relevant experience, and a solid commitment to engaging disadvantaged businesses and a diverse local workforce.Bridget Williams — Heavy Contractors Association
At the same time, controversy sparked among Kansas City Council members over the award to ESCO, including the number of minority businesses included in ESCO’s bid, which exceeded the bid parameters.
”I wanted to see more transformational efforts out of the money,” said First District Councilman Kevin O’Neill.
Second District Councilwoman Teresa Loar took a different position: “I don’t think that council should be getting involved in procurement and sealed bids,” she said. “I mean, to put politics in that spot, is not a good thing.”
Lisa Garney who owns G2 Construction, which is a registered WBE with KCMO, was hired by ESCO to supply the concrete. She does not believe this controversy is about the numbers of minority and woman owned companies but certain minorities and women owned companies, including hers.
“It’s a fundamental problem for entrepreneurialism. I think it’s a problem for our community and the growth of women and minorities,” Garney said. “We prepare ourselves and we we buy into the rhetoric that things can be growth opportunities for us, only to have that door slammed in our face by the large businesses that have been doing it for so many years.”
Garney also filed a separate complaint with the FAA for discrimination. A spokesperson for the FAA said the agency is reviewing the claims.