The Price is ‘Might’

There’s nothing necessarily illegal or unethical about a company belonging to the father of a Town Councilman being awarded a contract with the Town of Blythewood. After all, the Councilman in question recused himself from voting on the matter, and the low bid is the low bid; the town government would certainly come under considerable scrutiny and criticism were it to accept anything other than the lowest bid on a contract.

But there is such a thing as a bid that is so low that common sense – if not Town policy – mandates a complete re-bidding of the project, and this particular bid appears to fall into that category.

At least it would, if the public knew what the other bids were.

During Town Council’s special called meeting July 16, the Town Administrator did not disclose the amounts of the three losing bids for the Railroad clean-up project. He did, however, say the bids ranged from between $25,000 (the winning bid) and $133,000 – a disparity so great, due diligence would seem to require a second bidding process.

The other thing that should make the public slightly uncomfortable with this process is the way the Administrator appeared to dance around the paternity issue during the July 16 meeting. It was never made clear that the winning bidder was a company owned by a Councilman’s father, and only after being directly questioned by the Mayor did the Administrator confirm that the winning bidder was a “relative of” one of the Councilmen.

What also leaves us scratching our heads is how the winning bidder was even made aware of the project. He was contacted directly by the Town Administrator and asked to submit a bid – after the Town Administrator had contacted the Councilman in question and asked for his father’s phone number.

Perhaps that is how projects are put out for bid in the Town of Blythewood, but we doubt very seriously if the wording in the Town policy comes anywhere close to anything like that.

None of this is to suggest, of course, that anything illegal or unsavory transpired. The validity of the low bid cannot be accurately judged until the Town releases the losing bids, and we encourage them to do so at once. But a bid this low, from the father of a Councilman contacted directly by the Town Administrator and asked to bid, certainly requires a second look.