State board should be fair or be ignored
A bid to install synthetic turf at a UH field has been approved even though the company lacks a special license for such work.
The University of Hawaii has arrived at an ethically and economically sound decision to go forward with a contract to repair Cooke Field and ignore the state Contractors Licensing Board's guidelines. Opposition to the contract was tainted by apparent conflicts of interest.
The project was stalled after the board decided in October that only contractors with special licenses for installing artificial turf be qualified to bid on such projects. Logan Hamocon's Sports Turf Hawaii, which has a general landscaping license, submitted the winning bid, which was $21,500 less than the bid submitted by board member Denny Sadowski's Applied Surfacing Technology.
After Hamocon's company had won a bid to install synthetic turf at Les Murakami Stadium, Sadowski, who has a special license for installing turf, asked that the board adopt guidelines limiting that kind of work to contractors with such licenses. The board approved his proposal.
Although Sadowski recused himself from the vote, four contractors who were called by the board for comment included neither Hamocon nor Mark Carr of synthetic turf manufacturer Domo Sports Grass, who was working with Hamocon at the time on the Murakami Stadium project. Board executive officer Verna Oda's comment that Hamocon and Carr "weren't even on the radar at the time" raises questions about who controlled the radar.
The board's guidelines are not binding on agencies seeking construction bids. David Hafner, UH assistant chancellor for campus services, reached the correct decision "in the best interest of the taxpayers" by accepting Hamocon's bid. "This is a fully capable low bidder," he explained.
The Contractors Board needs to revise its decision-making process to achieve fairness or risk being ignored by agencies seeking bids.
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