Reject contractor board member’s move to bar competition
A state board has agreed with a board member to bar competition from a competitor in bidding for synthetic turf installment.
The state License Contractors Board has been disgraced by a member's attempt to protect his company from competition in securing construction contracts. Contractor Denny Sadowski should recognize his conflict of interest and abandon the effort to nip potential competition in the bud.
Sadowski's Applied Surfacing Technology lost a bid to competitor Sports Turf Hawaii last October for installing synthetic turf at the University of Hawaii baseball field. The next day, Sadowski asked the board to limit such contracts in the future to companies specially licensed to install turf. At the same time, he asked the board to deny floor work to paint contractors such as the company that beat his in bidding for such a job at Honokaa High School.
Logan Hamocon, owner of Sports Turf Hawaii, has challenged Sadowski's move, delaying bids for work at UH's Cooke Field, used by several athletic programs, including practice by the Warriors football team. Hamocon's company, which has a landscaping license, concentrates on growing grass on golf courses and other athletic fields.
However, Hamocon's company has been praised for its installation of artificial turf last year at UH baseball's Murakami Stadium. He said it has installed 5 million square feet of synthetic turf in Hawaii alone, although Sadowski argued to the board last October that Sports Turf Hawaii had "never done this before."
Equally if not more affected by the board's tentative decision is Rory Otto of Aiea, who has a landscaping license. His NyLawn Synthetic Turf in Aiea mainly installs putting greens and other synthetic lawn areas.
Sadowski's company is among four in Hawaii that hold special licenses for artificial turf installation. A good argument can be made that synthetic turf installation should be limited to contractors holding the special license, although the board agreed last July and August that a license for artificial turf installation was not needed for such jobs.
Compounding the conflict, Tady Arisumi, the board's chairman, had asked Sadowski to draft the scope of work that landscape and turf contractors should be allowed to perform. The board deferred its decision on the issue until its Aug. 22 meeting, delaying bids on the Cooke Field project.
If the board chooses to require special permits for synthetic turf installation, it should issue conditional licenses -- as provided in administrative rules -- to landscapers or other contractors with experience in that specialty until they obtain full licenses.
Don Mollway, executive director of the state Ethics Commission, told the Star-Bulletin's Rob Shikina that a board member whose company is particularly affected by a board action must "sit out of the discussion the entire time." Due in part to Arisumi's inappropriate request of Sadowski, the Cooke Field project might have to await a lengthy court battle.