Race Used As A False Excuse To Steer Uplands Project
In the latest chapter of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and her developer friend Ronald H. Lipscomb, it seems that the huge Uplands redevelopment project was steered to him, even though an independent city panel recommended that the contract be awarded to another company.
And it appears the deal was switched based on a false assumption.
According to the Sun, which originally broke the story, the $200-million-dollar project in Southwest Baltimore was switched from McCormack Co. to a consortium including Lipscomb’s company, Doracon, at the last minute because a handful of residents at a meeting objected to the chosen firm because they claimed it didn’t provide details about its plan to use minority-and-women-owned subcontractors on the project, while Lipscomb’s team did.
While the Sun did a great job in reporting this story, it missed a few very important details. For starters, the project is expected to exceed $300 million, instead of $200 million reported by the Sun , according to city documents obtained by Unfree State.
Secondly, objections by residents that the chosen developer did not provide details about minority contractors implies that they chose Lipscomb because he was going to use minority firms and that the other company wasn’t.
Well, that’s not how city contacts work, and everybody knows it.
According to an Uplands RFP obtained by Unfree State, all those bidders on the project are scored on the following minimum hiring goals of minority subcontractors:
- MBE goal is 27% for construction contracts.
- MBE goal is 17% for services contracts.
- MBE goal is 21% for architectural and engineering contracts.
- WBE goal is 8% for construction contracts.
- WBE goal is 9% for services contracts.
- WBE goal is 13% for architectural and engineering contracts.
Now, get this clause written into the RFP: “Proposals that exceed goals and requirements established in this section will be viewed more favorably.”
They must also sign a form that says they agree on reaching at least these minimum quotas, or risk losing the contract.
Therefore, it is highly doubtful that the independent city team would have chosen McCormack in the first place if the company had submitted a proposal that didn’t meet or exceed these minority quotas, which the city calls goals.
So, why did the city choose Lipscomb over McCormick?
We can only speculate because the city refuses to make the scoring of the competing proposals available to the public.
Part of the state prosecutor’s ongoing investigation of Dixon are recent city land and redevelopment deals.
Although Dixon has not been formally charged of any wrongdoing, the state prosecutor is investigating the buying practices of City Hall when Dixon was president of the City Council.